|Although the building is designed around a square courtyard, the hallway with its adjacent rooms seems to be spiraling around in a circle. It is very large and clearly built with lots of workers in mind. Now and especially because the day of our visit coincides with the last day before the summer holidays, it is dead quiet.
Originally, the Dutch company Philips used the building as their tube manufacturing plant. Under the communist occupation of 1948, the factory became nationalized and produced tubes for the Russian occupator under the name of Tesla. Because tubes are not susceptible to nuclear radiation, Tesla's products were very much in demand with the Moscow of those days. With the fall of communism, the factory returned once again to private hands and those of Alessa Vaic in particular. Some art in the hallways still reminds one of the former communist Tesla days.
|Come rain or shine, the craftsmen and craftswomen are still at work in the old factory. We begin our tour with the master glass man. It is he and his fellow glass men that convert long pipes of SIMAX -- a very hard Pyrex-like glass -- into tubular envelopes.
For an 842, he begins with a length of glass and measures the needed length by carving a scratch on the glass. Then he uses a red-glowing wire to cut the glass.
The length cut is sufficient for two 842s. Using another mark, the glass master heats this spot until the glass is just soft enough to be extruded into a cone which separates into two halves. Now a felt piston with a hollow tube gets inserted into our 842 to-be. With amazing skill, the glass master transforms the cone-shaped top of the tube into the smooth dome we all recognize from power tubes.
A combination of twirling, other wrist movements and blowing into the little lead tube are all part of this process. Once a year back in our schooldays, a glass artist showed up to educate us teenagers while selling off some of his doggies and other glass creatures. Compared to what we saw here in Prague, that fellow was about absolute peanuts who appealed to ignorant kids.
Prague is a real city of glass, with great artists originating from here. Everywhere you look, there is something glass made in a wonderfully artistic way. Even the Hilton is clad in glass and in front of it, an artistic expression of stainless steel and glass adds to the feeling of the city..
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