Romania is famous the world over for its delicate, hand-crafted glass. Detailed, sparkling artefacts can be found in stores like London’s Harrods or Neiman Marcus in the US.
However, artisans in the trade fear it is dying out because there are not enough newcomers to the industry.
We visited a factory on the outskirts of Bucharest which has been operating since 1922. Its team of 10 glass blowers are proud to be carrying on the tradition.
Though global demand for Romanian glass is strong, the factory’s manager, Petru Stefanescu, said it is hard to get young people into the business: “We try to attract young people by telling them our stories, by showing them what we do. But very few of them are really interested in actually doing this job. Young people today are no longer interested in handicraft. And there are no policies to encourage young people to go for such jobs these days in Romania.”
Stefan has been blowing glass for 60 years. The glass tubes he is working on are imported from Germany and the Czech Republic. They are melted to a temperature of 1,600 Celsius and turned into chandeliers, candle holders, drinking glasses and teapots.
Stefan says a good glass blower needs the touch of a pianist – light and precise: “It is a very fine handicraft. You can only do this job if you really love it. You have to think about how you will melt the glass and how you will cut it. You need to feel it inside.”
Ionut, who is 27, is classed as a beginner in the trade, despite having 10years experience. He was among a handful of students handpicked by the company’s manager himself.
So far, the Romanian glass industry has been spared the worst effects of the economic crisis in Europe.
The company enjoyed a 400,000 euro turnover last year.
But there are fears that if nothing is done to attract the young generation, the glass-making industry could find its days are numbered.