Friday, March 4, 2011

New at Bumbershoot Supplies. Antique Bohemian Flower Cabochons and Their History

Words cannot describe how thrilled I am to be able to offer a limited number of these rare antique Czech glass flower cabochons, just arrived at Bumbershoot Supplies.

We have gorgeous ivory and pale beige-y pink in 2 sizes. These cabochons are truly a part of glass and costume jewelry history. The character of the glass is unlike anything I have seen before, the colors so delicate and yet rich at the same time, and the glass has a really gorgeous sheen.

These are so special, I want to share a bit of their history with you. Until WWII, the Gablonz area of Czechoslovakia was home to some of the finest glass artisans in the world. That is where these cabochons were made, back in the 1920's to 1930's. These cabochons, and many rhinestones also, are press molded, which means that molten glass is pressed between dies to create the shape. This was done by single glass artisans, just a few pieces at time. For these cabochons, intricately carved dies were used and the detail is magnificent and precise. The glass is pressed in what looks like big tongs and then the finished pieces are released. This may sound simple, but as I learned in Sibylle Jargstorf's book "Baubles, Buttons and Beads. The Heritage of Bohemia" success depends on many factors. First, you have to have a good die, so the collaboration between engravers and glass artists was important. Second, for the pressing, the glass must be at the correct temperature - too hot/soft or too cool/thick creates various problems. Temperature is also important in regards to color because with some colors of glass, the color changes with different temperatures. Also the die must be at the correct temperature. If it is too cold, minute surface cracks can appear on the cabochon or rhinestone. If the die is too hot, the glass will fuse to the metal and the stones or cabochons cannot be released from the mold. There are additional considerations when creating glass rhinestones, since those are faceted on both sides.  To get those beautiful facets on both sides requires an understanding of how the physics of gravity acts on cooling glass. 

For both cabochons and rhinestones, there may be many other steps after the piece is released from the mold, depending on the purpose and plans for the batch that is being made. These can include shearing to clean up the edges and facets, polishing of various sorts, beveling and foiling. All of these additional steps require the expertise of specialist artisans.

So, when I consider these vintage glass cabochons and our vintage rhinestones, I am truly in awe of the many steps involved and the many (unsung) artisans involved, all working together to bring these beautiful baubles to a finished state. I am so grateful to them for the beauty they have created and I am absolutely thrilled to have located these treasures to share with you.


  1. i am hoping you have a couple of these cabochons, vintage glass cabochons that are detailed here......left from march 2011....for sale...i would love to buy one or two.....they are extremely beautiful................penny

  2. Hi Penny, Yes, these are some of the loveliest floral cabochons I've ever seen and unfortunately, we are sold out of all 3 that we offered. Sorry I can't help, but thanks for asking!