Inge-Glas of Germany employees over 100 masters, artisans and employees; many of them have worked at Inge-Glas for 25 years or more. They still make Christmas Heirloom ornaments in the same centuries old traditional way that their forefathers did in the historic area of Germany - the birthplace of glass Christmas ornaments.
Many of their heirloom ornaments are blown in the original antique moulds, some of them dating far back into the 1800's. Their extensive mould collection is the largest world-wide with over 15,000 antique moulds. No other company has this exclusive resource available to them.
Inge-Glas is a "Green" company. They use only a pure, high grade German glass and lead-free paints, lacquers and glitters. They are a 100% lead-free ornament manufacturer. Unlink other ornament suppliers, Inge-Glas owns its own factory in Germany. They control all materials used in the manufacturing, packaging and shipping of their heirloom quality ornament.
How heirloom Christmas ornaments are created:
The mould is made of a ceramic-based material enabling the glassblower to use the mould repeatedly, as the glass will not stick to the mould. Another benefit of the ceramic mould is its ability to produce highly detailed ornaments.
A hollow glass tube is chosen based on the size and dimension of the ornament to be created. The glassblower manually rolls the tube with his fingers over the hot flame until it is pliant. One end of the tube is sealed in the flame and once the glass is ready, the glassblower will fit it into the mould. The mould is clamped down around the glass while the blower breathes steadily into the glass tube to press the glass into all crevices of the mould.
Once the glass is cooled, it is silvered. A clear silver nitrate solution is inserted into the glass ornament. The ornament is then submerged in hot water and shaken to ensure the solution coats the inside of the entire ornament. The heat of the bath begins the chemical reaction and the inside of the entire ornament becomes silvered.
Once dried, the ornament is painted. Every ornament is painted with a base coat that provides the foundation color of the ornament. The ornament is submerged in the base coat and then twirled to remove the excess paint. It is then stood on end to allow the paint to dry. Once the base coat dries, the details of the ornament are hand painted. One ornament can have as many as 38 painting steps before it is completed.
After every color has been painted and allowed to dry, the ornament is glittered. Once dry, the excess pike is scored and snapped off. The five-pointed Star Crown suspension ring is set into place and the ornament is completed. The Star Crown is the guarantee that an ornament is produced in the century's old tradition in the Müller-Blech family workshops.
This year, Inge-Glas celebrates 415 years of family history of hand producing glass ornaments. This is the 10th year that Inge-Glas has supplied customers in the US directly from the Inge-Glas workshops in Germany. The 2011 Heirloom collection includes over 100 new designs of traditional German glass ornaments. The 2011 Classic collection has a European trend. Inge-Glas offers the best of both worlds - antique moulds and new mould ornament designs. Several ornaments from the 2011 collection are from original vintage moulds, all handcrafted in Germany.
Each year, the Müller-Blech family workshop in Germany offers limited editions of handcrafted ornaments. Each of the mouth-blown, hand-painted ornaments is inspired and designed by Birgit Müller-Blech. Ornaments retire each year as new ones are introduced. Each ornament is a collector's treasure and an heirloom to be passed down from generation to generation.