Glassblower Wolfgang Meusel was born in Thuringia, and has lived there all his life. He embodies many native attributes: love of culture, technology and homeland, and a curious attachment to dumplings.
Wolfgang Meusel carefully turns two glass sticks in the light-blue gas flame. The glassblower is accustomed to the smothering air in his studio. With his strong hands, Meusel pulls a tiny beak in the glass duck he is forming. He has made hundreds of figures just like this.
After training to be a glassblower in 1953, Meusel, who was born in Lauscha, Thuringia, knew that he didn't only want to make the utilitarian beakers and other vessels that his training prepared him for.
The town of Lauscha is a glassblowing center
He wanted to make glass art. And he wanted to stay in Lauscha.
"I never wanted to travel"
"I never had the urge to travel," the retiree said. Lauscha is where his family is at home, and it is the German capital of glass art.
For well over 400 years, the little town in the Thuringian Forest has turned quartz sand, potash and lime into glass.
"My mother was a glass worker. She made painted Christmas ornaments with her father. And his father worked with glass," Meusel said. It was always his plan, too, to work with glass. Now, more than 50 years later, he holds his master-glassblower certificate in his hands, and looks back proudly at his long career.
Lauscha is a town of some 4,500, nestled in pine forests that are crisscrossed by little streams. Meusel loves the nature of his homeland. In summer, the whole town goes out and takes part in the blueberry harvest. Thuringians like to hike - and Meusel does as well. He recalls how the Rennsteig - the longest alpine hiking path in Germany was finally re-connected with the opening of the East-West German border.
For the love of dumplings
Another thing ties Meusel to Thuringia: potato dumplings. Mention the so-called Lauschner Knoeller, or "Lauscha Lumps" and the retiree gets a look in his eyes that could be mistaken for lovesickness. "The gravy should cover them, and they should be soft enough that you don't need a knife to cut them but they shouldn't fall off the fork."
Glassblower Meusel never wanted to leave home
Meusel is a proud Thuringian. "Thuringians like to sing," he says. "They are curious, sociable, and extremely proud of their homeland." Whenever he does leave home, he prefers to travel within the state of Thuringia. For decades, he has spent vacations visiting friends outside of Weimar.
"This friendship has made me very attached to Weimar," he says. "I've seen everything there, from the theater to the 'princely graves' where both poets are buried. I've always loved the Wartburg, near Eisenach."
Weimar is one of the most important cities in German history. It is where you can visit the homes of the poets Johann Wolfgang von Goethe and Friedrich von Schiller. You can follow that up by a visit to the home of painter Lucas Cranach, and the composer Franz Liszt.