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Friday, 27 July 2018

Krakow Hidden Gems: Stained Glass Museum

Dearest sweethearts,

#DidYouKnow that Krakow has it's very own Stained Glass Workshop and Museum? It is located on Krasinskiego 23, just across the Kino Kijow,  very close to the National Museum in Krakow Main Building (Al. 3 Maja 1) and just 7 minutes walk from the Main Market Square?! That's right! The Stained Glass Workshop and Museum is a hidden gem of Krakow, a Polish Art Nouveau corner and an unique institution on a world scale. The exhibition space intertwines with the old stained glass studio, that is functioning since 1902!
The Stained Glass Workshop and Museum in Krakow 
The building was designed by it's owner with a special order, making certain rooms bigger, some taller and having a lot of space for very tall windows (so the light would come through). The workshop still cultivates traditional techniques that were used in making stained glass windows ages ago. 
What I found very attractive was that the tour was done while the artists were working so you could actually see them in their daily tasks! You can observe the process directly above their heads, as you climb up to the second floor, to see the painters that give the finishing touches to the masterpieces. 
Stained Glass Krakow Museum 
To speak of this lovely hidden gem, one must speak of Stanislaw Gabriel Zelenski. He was born in February 1873 in Warsaw and died in August 1914 near Lukow. He was an architect and he was the owner of the Krakowskiego Zakladu Witrazow S.G. Zelenski. 
After completing his studies at the Lwow University, he initially worked as a government architect for Krakow. Together with the Art Nouveau technique, the Stained Glass became widespread not only in churches but in residential buildings as well. 
The Stained Glass door at the entrance to the house
In 1902 Zelenski bought and founded a stained glass factory under the name "Krakowskie Zaklady Witrazow" - along with architect Wladyslaw Ekielski and painter Antoni Tuch. They created an Artistic Glass and Glass Mosaic Factory. 
Up the stairs you must go!
In 1906, the plant was moved to a new building designed by Stanislaw Gabriel Zelenski and Ludwik Wojtyczek at ul. Krasinskiego 23. The building that now houses the Stained Glass Krakow Museum.
The hallway between the cafe and the workshop / museum rooms for Stained Glass Krakow Museum 
#DidYouKnow that until 1912, stained glass windows were made in 53 churches and chapels in Malopolska region, 27 in Lwow, 13 in the Duchy of Poznan and 16 in the Kingdom of Poland. 
Available pieces to be bought in the Museum Shop/Cafe
The Stained Glass Workshop and Museum,  the hidden gem of Krakow,  as you can see it nowdays,  was founded in 2004 by Piotr Ostrowski. It is the result of an innovative concept of the so-called "living museum". And indeed as you walk into it, you can see how this house lives and breathes art through each nook and corner. 
Available pieces to be bought in the Museum Shop/Cafe
But what does that mean? It means that the space available to the visitors is intertwined with a still-functioning stained-glass workshop, in which artists are constantly working on new works. As part of the visit, one can learn step by step the whole process of creating a stained glass window and look upon the current projects. 
Souvenirs at the Stained Glass Krakow Museum 
The Museum also has an exposition space (on the second floor), consisting of both historical and contemporary works of art. There are many sketches, drawings, hand-made glass designs and finished works. It is the richest collection in Poland associated with stained glass art. 
Stained Glass art in Poland was much more popular than today. The leading creators of Young Poland (Mloda Polska) used this form to express themselves quite frequently. The company cooperated with, amongst others, with artists like Stanislaw Wyspianski, Jozef Mehoffer, Henryk Uziemblo, Wojciech Jastrzebowski and Stefan Matejko (the most loved and admired Polish painter). 
In 2016, as part of its mission to popularize the Polish stained glass heritage, the Stained Glass Krakow Museum undertook the reconstruction of the outstanding work of Stanislaw Wyspianski titled Apollo. The project aimed to maximally faithfully recreate the Stained Glass damaged during World War II and make it available to the public - well... at the end of the museum tour you can see the finished project in all its splendour. 
#DidYouKnow that over 200 stained glass windows realised by the Stained Glass Krakow Museum (inside their workshop) can be admired throughout the city of Krakow? This includes windows in the Wawel Castle Cathedral and the Franciscan Basilica. 
Krakow has been involved in the production of Stained Glass for many centuries and not only important monuments are adorned with it, but also private houses. I recommend you to have a look on the Stained Glass Krakow Museum site and find their location, or ask for the special map that the clever marketing team has created. The site is in English and Polish and wonderfully created. You can find it all at one click away!
The Stained Glass Workshop and Museum was created as a space of dialogue and craft, a space where one can elevate craft to fine art. The Museum tour started by meeting our lovely tour guide - Gabriela. We were a group of 5 people and we were straight away ushered to the Main room where the design and welding takes place. 
Gabriela told us about the most important piece in the room: one of the golden medals from the 1925 Paris Exhibition (and Contest), where the 2 Stained Glass windows that adorne now the Wawel Cathedral,  won the Main Prize. Usually they would give out one medal but in this case they felt the need to give 2: one for the designer and one for the executor. Just so you know, the designer was none other than J. Mehoffer. 
100 Shades of Stained Glass 
The team does not do the Stained Glass here, they have ready made colours from the glass factories. There is a palette of about 100 types of colours. #DidYouKnow there are only 4 Glass Mills in Europe that can provide the Stained Glass? Also... #DidYouKnow the most expensive colour is dark red, made out of real gold powder? 
Welding in process...
During the museum tour you can find how the design is born, how it is cut into smaller patterns and all the types of techniques used for welding, for "glueing" the pieces together. You will learn about the Patternating technique - which allows to make more life like details. You will see the difference between the lead and the Tiffany technique (used for smaller, more delicate objects). 
You will then move to the second floor and learn more about the colours and how one can remove the layers of colour in the glass. You will learn about the fact that having windows facing the North is a must - as the light is more gentle. You will see easels made in the 1900s still standing there, being used by the painters. 
You will learn that only one layer of painting and work can take up to 24 hours to make and bake. This way you will understand more about the amount of work and patience and planning it takes to do a small piece of art. 
In the middle, the dark red is done with gold dust :)
At the end of the tour you will have a look at the finished works of art, see the taller room where the assembly used to take place and finally gaze upon the Apollo finished project. The tour usually takes around 45 to 60 min and you can ask as many questions as you want. There are only 3 main rules: do not touch anything unless invited/told so, don't disturb the people working & do not make videos (you can do pictures).
If you choose to have a workshop, like I did, there are multiple options, according to how much money and time you have. There is the short version (1-2 hours), standard version (3 hours), stained glass course (3-4 days), intensive classes (2 day intensive all day workshop). 
My masterpiece in the making 
After each of them you will get to make your own piece of Stained Glass art. And before working with the Stained Glass you will get a tour of the museum. The materials are included and you are given a protective apron foe your clothes. You must wear it! This tend to get "dirty" ;) 
After the tour of the museum and workshop you usually get a 15 min coffee break at the small cafe on the 1st floor. They have really nice apricot jam croissants and good bottled lemonade by (John) On Lemon - produced in Poland, Polish brand sued by Yoko Ono ;) you should google that!
Gabriella holding the Stained Glass Krakow Museum's own map of Krakow and where you can find Stained Glass masterpieces  :) it's a must see/have! 
The workshop takes about 1:30-2 hours, the short version, and there can be any number of participants between 1 and 50. The available languages for the people that will explain to you what you must do, are: Polish, English, German, Italian and French. The cost of the short workshop is 180 zloty per person (museum visit and coffee break included). Booking a workshop is a must 24h in advance - there is an online form on their page ;) They reply really fast via email and the team is adorable! Great customer care skills - you can see that they love what they are doing and that they want you to have a great time as well. During the workshop you will have to do everything manually: pick the main model you want (out of a set already selected for you),  pick a matching colour, start cutting it into shape, making sure there are no rough edges, taping it ready for the lead soldering, soldering and... giving it the finishing touches! Sounds... easy, right? :p wait until you pick it up and have to do it yourself! Do so! And tell me what was your experience ;)

Yours sincerely, 
The Twisted Red LadyBug That Loved The Hours Spent At The StainedGlass Workshop and Museum in Krakow 

P.S. I was offered the tour of the museum and to take part of the short workshop for free. In return I promised to share my photos on the social media (Facebook and Instagram) and write a post on how truly I felt during this tour. The opinions are my own and I absolutely adored this place! For sure I will tell my friends to try it out. I already take great pride in the piece I made and I display it on my boudoir. Would love to come again one day, probably for a longer course :) 

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