Questers Catalina Timewalkers Present Kingdom of Crystal: SaddleBrooke’s Very Own ‘Glasriket’

Michelle Wiklund

Do you know of “Glasriket,” or the “Kingdom of Glass,” in Sweden?

In English, it’s the “Kingdom of Crystal” or the “Glass Realm.” In Swedish, it’s “Glasriket.” Småland is the largest traditional province in Southern Sweden. Its name means “many small lands.” Scattered among the rocky woodlands and forests of Småland are isolated villages whose names are synonymous with crystal glassware, namely Kosta, Bergdala, Skruf, and Orrefors, among others. Glassblowers have been at work in Småland since 1742.

This spectacular, creative art was at its height in the late 19th century. The conditions were perfect: dense forests (endless wood to fire the ovens) and the lands blanketed with lakes and streams (ample sand to melt into glass). The Swedish glass industry’s first boom also came during difficult economic times. Poverty became so widespread that Småland lost vast numbers of people when a sixth of Sweden’s population immigrated to America from the late 19th through the 20th century. If you’re an American with Swedish roots, chances are your ancestors are from Småland.

Catalina Timewalkers met at the home of Michelle Wiklund to hear the history of the Kingdom of Glass, see her sparkling collection of Scandinavian glassware, and enjoy a luncheon hyttsill smorgasbord. Displays of glimmering glassware included a family heirloom—a hand-painted carafe carried to America in the 1880s by her husband’s grandfather. Numerous Swedish, Finnish, and Norwegian pieces were described. A Swedish family rocking chair and cedar chest carved from wood cut on the Wiklund 1880s pioneer dairy farm in Northern Minnesota were showcased.

Glasriket offers plenty of culinary specialties, one of the most cultural being hyttsill (hot-shop herring). In the early days, when the glassblowers went home, the long tables in Småland’s glassworks were laid. The squire glassblowers cooked herring in the cooling pipe where the glass was left to cool earlier in the day. Herring was served with several dishes: Småland specialties, fried pork, isterband (coarsely ground smoked sausages), baked potatoes, and the Smålanders’ own lingonberry jam. For dessert, Småland’s provincial dish ostkaka cheese cake was served with jam and whipped cream. It was always warm, there was someone to talk to, and tramps and hunters provided the stories and entertainment!

Co-hostesses Mary Gates and Nancy Hysong helped prepare and serve a hyttsill smorgasbord. Specialties included Inlagd Sill (pickled herring); Kottbullar med Graddsas (Swedish meatballs in cream sauce); Falukorv (Swedish potato sausage); Samen in Gurka Graddsas (salmon in cucumber sauce); Smorgastarta (Swedish sandwich cake); Ostbrada, Knackebrod, and Kokt Aggs (cheese plate, crisp bread, and cooked eggs); Gevalia Kaffee (Gevalia coffee); Toscakaka (almond cake); Spritz (butter cookies); and Pepparkakor (gingersnap cookies).

If you are interested in joining the Catalia Timewalkers chapter of Questers, meetings are held the third Friday of the month, October through May.

For membership information, contact Kipi Martin by email at [email protected]. 2024-25 club meetings will resume in October. Meeting and Questers purpose, mission, and vision can be found at