Saturday May 4, 2024 | by Andrew Page

IN MEMORIAM: Petr Novotný (1952 - 2024), an ambassador, glass virtuoso, and innovator who helped sustain the historic glassmaking culture of Nov​ý Bor, dies at 72

Petr Novotný, the owner of the Nový Bor glassworks, museum, and tool-making company, known as Novotný Glass, died on Friday, May 3rd, after a long illness. Renown as one of the most technically skilled glass masters from this Northern Bohemian town where glassmaking can be traced back to the 14th century, Novotný was a regular presence at international glass gatherings since the 1980s, and a force who single-handedly helped to sustain and advance the field in the centuries old glassmaking town just over an hour's drive north of Prague.

As a teenager, Petr Novotný came to Nový Bor to study glassmaking, completing his studies at the Secondary Glassmaking School in 1972. Nový Bor's uniquely clear crystal made from pure potassium-calcium quartz became sought-after by European aristocrats beginning in the Renaissance, and the area is known as a historic European center for innovation in glass production and design. After graduating, Novotný remained in this town in Northern Bohemia when he was hired by Crystalex, one of the oldest glassworks, and where Novotny would work closely with Josef Rozinek, famous for his work fabricating for René Roubíček and other 20th century Czech sculptors. 

Inspired by the Studio Glass movement in the U.S., Novotný set up a small glass furnace in his home where he explored his own designs and researched how some of the earliest glassware, known as "forest glass," was made. He made a point of attending international glass gatherings as travel restrictions eased and especially after the 1989 Velvet Revolution saw the end of Communist rule. He was a lifelong educator, teaching both at Nový Bor and giving demonstrations and workshops abroad.

The workshop at Novotný Glass in Novy Bor.

He was one of the founders of the AJETO Glassworks, which opened in 1994 in Lindava. That same year, he is credited with helping to save the International Glass Symposium, which had been struggling in the difficult economic years as the Czech Republic emerged from the Communist era and established its independence. It was Novotný who worked to win the support of the CEO of Crystalex to sustain this important international gathering in Nový Bor, which continues to this day. The IGS is reportedly planning to honor Novotný during the annual event in October 2024.

The museum at Novotný Glass.

Novotný sold the successful AJETO glass brand to LASVIT in 2017. He focused on transforming the glassworks building into his own ambitious multi-purpose operation known as Novotný Glass, where the glass workshop is now situated alongside a museum, a restaurant, a glass tool-making business, and a club with pool tables, where the glass virtuoso could often be found indulging in his love for the precision and finesse of various types of billiards.

Glass: The UrbanGlass Quarterly, a glossy art magazine published four times a year by UrbanGlass has provided a critical context to the most important artwork being done in the medium of glass for more than 40 years.