On Monday we went to visit the Skoda car plant. It was a very interesting tour and I took quite a few pictures. Unfortunately, I don't know what happened to my Monday pictures. They seem to have been deleted or lost somewhere along the way.
The next day our guide Hana took us to a glass bead factory in a small town about an hour outside of Prague. Unfortunately the guide at the bead factory didn't speak English so we were pretty much on our own to figure out what was being done. I do have a number of pictures and a couple of movies that show a good portion of the bead making process.
The first machine we saw appeared to operate with only minor intervention. The raw glass pieces were stored in bins along side the machine. The glass was fed into a chamber where it is heated so it will flow out the bottom through an opening that forms it into a hot continuous , molten glass rod. This viscous rod gets stamped and shaped into a ribbon of beads. I think the shape and size of the bead can be changed by changing the die in the stamping unit and the aperture of the hole through which the moten glass flows.
The second process we saw involved more "hands on" intervention. Here the worker takes a "rod" of molten glass and feeds it through a stamping machine. Once again the size and shape of the bead can be changed by changing the die of the stamper. Click on the left picture below and you will see a YouTube movie of the process.
The beads are tumbled and polished at different stages of the process. This is done in what looks like cement mixers.
Some beads get faceted. Click on the picture to the right and you will see a YouTube video of this process. The operator loads a tray with beads, fills in the empty slots and locks the beads in place. Then by manipulating the angle at which the beads touch the grinding belt. controls the number of facets on the beads.
As you can see below, there are a LOT of beads produced here.
We went from the bead factory to a shop where they make and sell lampwork beads. Lampwork beads are each made separately. Click on the picture of the woman working on the bead and you will see a YouTube video of her making a bead. The other 3 pictures are of beads that Granny purchased at the shop.
When we finished at the lampwork bead shop, it was time for lunch. We found a little cafe off the main street where we could have a typical Czech lunch while enjoying the bucolic setting. On the left is a picture from the lunch terrace and on the right is a picture of our guide Hana and our driver enjoying their bowls of soup.
Our last stop was in an area called Paradise. Paradise is a region northeast of Prague that is known for its sports opportunities, castles and overall beauty. We stopped briefly at one of the castle/hotels and had some tea. Below is a picture of the pastoral valley from the terrace where we relaxed.
Our last night in Prague we had tickets for the ballet. The performance was at the National Theater which was only a couple of blocks from our hotel. We decided to walk over and because we had a little extra time, we went off the main road. You never know where the streets of Prague go. It turns out the street we selected ran UNDER the street where the National Theater was located. So we had to walk past, find a way up and then walk back.
The performance consisted of 3 ballets choreographed by the artistic director of the National Theater of Prague - Petr Zuska. The dancing was excellent but we thought the choreography was SPECTACULAR! It was a fantastic way to wind-up our visit to Prague.