The beginning of the International Glass Symposium dates to 1982 when Crystalex in Nový Bor managed something almost impossible. The idea of an international meeting of glassmakers in totalitarian Czechoslovakia became reality. Crystalex invited artists and designers from all over the world to its workshops. Nearly 50 artists from thirteen countries came to realize their artistic ideas with the help of the local glassmakers. More than 300 exhibits were created. Thirty-nine years later, the program structure and the basic idea of the symposium still follow the tradition founded by Crystalex. Many artists also return to Nový Bor regularly. However, the symposium has changed with the time as well. The visit of artists from the "West" is no longer considered exotic and thanks to IGS we can still show the whole world that Czech glassmakers have not lost any of their famous craftsmanship. IGS has become one of the most important international events in the art glass field and during its existence it has hosted about six hundred artists from all over the world. To make the symposium attractive also for the public, not only glass artists are invited to participate, but also designers, painters, sculptors, architects, personalities from among fashion and jewelry designers, street art and pop culture, which turns every IGS into a four-day experience marathon. The world is being introduced to Nový Bor, Liberec Region and the Czech Republic as a significant glass destination. The event has an enormous significance for the local glass region, for promotion of Czech glass and Czech glassmaking craft in the world, it contributes to preserving intangible cultural inheritance, and finally, it has an important collecting function.

The first meeting of glassmakers in 1982 became a cornerstone, to which others were added at regular three-year intervals. From 1982 to 2006, Crystalex (since 1993 Crystalex a.s.) was the organizer of another eight years of the symposium, except for 1994, when the symposium took place under the name "Glass Ambitions 94" and was organized jointly by Egermann s.r.o. and Ajeto Czech Glass Craft s.r.o. The declaration of bankruptcy and the subsequent bankruptcy proceedings prevented the founders of the symposium from organizing the tenth anniversary year in 2009. However, the management of the town of Nový Bor at the time was very aware of the importance and contribution of IGS to the town and made a decision to organize the next year. It took relatively difficult negotiations to reach an agreement with Crystalex a.s., the administrator. After that, the town invited glass companies to cooperate, which provided technical, organizational and personnel background for the realization of the standard content of the symposium. Among the co-organizers of the symposium were the companies Ajeto Czech Glass Graft s.r.o., Egermann s.r.o, SKLÁRNA SLAVIA s.r.o., TGK - technology, glass and art s.r.o. Skalice u České Lípy, Glass School Nový Bor and the Glass Museum Nový Bor. The 10th year of IGS was unique for many reasons. The creative meeting took place not only under the change of the main organizer, but also with completely new organizations and with unusually short time for its preparation. Less than six months passed between the town's decision in January 2009 to organize the symposium and its actual realization in June 2009. Logically, it was not possible to follow all the traditions of the symposium, which was carried by Crystalex, but even so, IGS 2009 became an unforgettable original in its history. The tradition was not interrupted, the tenth stone was laid and despite the specifics of individual years, the original idea of the symposium has been preserved - a meeting of glassmakers in an environment of joint creative work, exchange of views and experiences, gaining contacts and new friends.

The symposium in 2012 was characterized by a very busy student section and interesting results of the work of beginning artists. In addition, IGS presented itself in advance with the exhibition Born in Fire at the Prague Castle premises. The IGS partnership was accepted by the Museum of Decorative Arts in Prague which developed into a permanent collaboration. For the first time, the public had the opportunity to set off on the Glass Path, which introduced visitors to several studios, galleries, showrooms, shops and other establishments associated with glass production, crafts and art.

IGS 2015 was probably the largest in its scope. More than 70 personalities received invitations to participate. However, this brought the IGS to the very limit of its capacity. Participant couples made up of fathers and sons showed that the love of glass is inherited from generation to generation. Mgr. Milan Hlaveš Ph.D., curator of the IGS 2015, came with the idea to create IGS Hall of Fame and first personalities that were chosen to be inducted were René and Miluše Roubíček. In 2018, they were joined by Jiří Šuhájek. In 2021 the nomination was accepted by prof. Vladimír Kopecký. Historically, anniversaries which include number eight are important for the Czech Republic. In October 2018, we commemorated the 100th anniversary of the establishment of an independent Czechoslovakia, and same year we welcomed participants of XIII IGS in Nový Bor and briefly presented to them our century-old history in the form of video mapping during the final evening. XIII IGS had also the highest number of organizers in the IGS history. There was a total of sixteen cooperating entities which provided workspace for more than 50 participants in their operations.

In 2021, the town of Nový Bor became the main organizer of IGS for the fifth time, and once again at the turn of September and October this small glassmaking town in the north of Bohemia turned into a true world glassmaking metropolis for a few days. Compared to the year 2009, the symposium took on a much larger scale. The number of organizers and participants increased and IGS strengthened its global prestige. Despite all the changes that glassmaking has gone through and that have also affected IGS, Nový Bor region remains an exceptional area with its range of glass processing technologies, from machine production, off-hand blown glass at glassworks to an extremely wide range of refining techniques. Such concentration and richness of glass production is completely unique and thus provides exceptional conditions for the IGS. However, the 14th IGS will forever remain written in history in connection with the global covid-19 pandemic, which marked its preparations, course, and selection of participants. With the motto „Glass without borders“, the organizers wanted to point out the wide range of creative possibilities that glass offers, and also to characterize the organizational structure of the symposium and the cooperation of the organizing entities, which are the town of Nový Bor, glass companies, glassmaking schools and museum institutions from the Nový Bor region. However, it got another dimension as well. It expressed hope that the symposium would be able to take place despite the travel restrictions due to the global pandemic. At the beginning of 2021, it was not clear whether the symposium would be able to take place in the presence of the public and what measures would be necessary for its possible implementation. The organizers therefore considered various options, among them the organization of only a Czech or Czech-Slovak symposium. In the end, they decided to prepare the symposium in a traditional setting. And everything worked out! With great luck, the symposium took place in its standard form under the conditions of relaxation of restrictions between the two waves of the pandemic. And the team, led by symposium curator PhDr. Sylva Petrová, could introduce professor Vladimír Kopecký into the Hall of Fame.

The IGS phenomenon lives on. In 2024 it will take place for the fifteenth time already. Each of the symposia was unique, and the jubilee one this year will be no different. And what will it be like? We will get an answer to that at the end of October 2024. Place and material are the unchanging basis of the tradition, but glassmaking and art are a living, leading and original phenomenon reflecting the times. Come see for yourself that All you need is glass!

For the IGS organizing team
RNDr. Alena Forgáčová
IGS Secretary 2009-2021

Síň slávy IGS 2021 - prof. Vladimír Kopecký

Hall of Fame IGS 2018 - Jiří Šuhájek

Hall of Fame IGS 2015 - René Roubíček and Miluše Roubíčková

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IGS 2012

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IGS 2009

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