“Huta glassware”

huta glasswareThe name “huta glassware” originated from the word “huta” which in old times meant handicraft glass workshop.

Archaelogical findings prove that glass production in the territory of the Ukraine originated in the ancient state of the Kiev Rus, the period of the common cultural development of the Russian, Ukrainian and Byelorussian peoples. Several glassworking shops of that period have been found by excavations, and there was one such shop on the grounds of the Kiev-Pechersk Monastery (now Kiev-Pechersk state historical-cultural museum).

The first mention of glass workshops, or the “huty”, in literature appeared in the XV century. Glass was produced throughout the Ukraine, but “huty” were particularly widespread in the northern and western districts, where deposits of pure quartz sand and extensive forests created favourable conditions for glass production.

The huta glass is produced by the art of free blowing. It reached its highest development in the XVIII century. Literary sources and museum collections (the largest huta glass-ware collection is to be found in our museum) show that the old Ukrainian glass-blowers produced various articles of glass, particularly glass sculptures and black household wares of different shapes decorated with mouldings, raised spiral threads, coloured free designs, pictures, and engravings. The usual articles were wineglasses, pitchers, flasks, barrels, bowls, beakers, decanters in the shape of animals and birds. Great popularity was enjoyed by decanters in the shape of bears, an invariable appurtenance at all wedding or holiday feasts.

During the latter half of the XIX century the small shops with their hand labour were ousted by large glass works, the owners of which were interested only in profits. Huta glass production fell into decay.

It was only in our times, when all necessary conditions have been set up for free creative endeavour that the forgotten art of huta glassware has been revived.

It is characteristic that the huta glass revival began in Lviv Region — a district where this art was most developed in the past.

In their early works the Lviv huta glass-blowers sometimes followed the old forms. This was to be expected, as it was the period of familiarization with the huta heritage, with the techniques pertaining to the treatment of old glass. At present they are producing modern glassware on the basis of their acquired knowledge.

Mecheslav Pavlovsky, Honoured Master of Folk Art of the Ukrainian S. S. R., has produced a great variety of glass articles. The artist diligently seeks new forms and patterns, but in his pursuits he always returns to best traditions of huta glass craftsmanship, to its artistic nature. The shapes of Pavlovsky’s articles are dictated by the very technique of free glass-blowing. The artist shows preference for coloured stripes and a raised spiral thread which either covers the entire body of the article or is grouped around the brim or bottom. Most frequently the thread is of different colour than the vessel. Pavlovsky often makes figured pitchers in the shape of fish, bears, female figures. The artist also devotes a great deal of time to sculpture.

Petro Dumych works in his own way. He prefers massive, squat or slim, spindle-shaped forms adorned with a spiral coloured thread placed within the transparent glass. The middle of the vase often has a light blue or some other tint emphasizing the inner pattern and rhythmically repeating the outline of the vase.

Artist Marian Tarnavsky executes animal miniatures and sculptures of small form. His earlier works, mostly very small figures of birds, more rarely animals, were shaped by the artist by the method of drawing out with the pincers such details as the head, neck and tail from a small piece of soft fused glass, while the eyes, beak and crest were formed on a gas burner. The readily fused kinds of glass required for this technique were prepared by the artist himself. Tarnavsy even then had a profound knowledge of the properties of glass and took skilful advantage of its plastic qualities when producing his work. It was for this reason that his miniatures never had or have artificial shapes which are at variance with the nature of glass.

The last sculptures by Tarnavsky, executed for the sesquicentennial of T. G. Shevchenko’s birth, are of a somewhat different nature. They are imbued with the works of the great poet, and are produced by the method of moulding molten glass. The best of them — “Unfortunate”, “Orphan”, “Kobzar” — are generalized, without any superfluous details, in conformity with the nature of the material, they show that Tarnavsky is a gifted artist with a rich creative imagination and his own way of artistic expression.

The achievements of the folk artists in huta glassware have greatly influenced artists engaged in the glassware industry. Recently they have resorted more and more to the technique of free glass-blowing. Characteristic instances are the works of the Kiev Art Glassware Factory artists Ivan Zaritsky, Pavlo Averkov, Ivan Apolonov.


 

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