Love of glass is crystal clear
Marin Kirov has worked at The Crystal Cave for 9 years, repairing and engraving glass, and agreed with Puehringer that most people don't realize crystal can be repaired. | Jackie Pilossoph~For Sun-Times Media
The Crystal Cave
1946 Lehigh Ave. Unit E, Glenview
Updated: December 30, 2012 3:04PM
GLENVIEW — Josef Puehringer’s love of working with glass dates back to his childhood in Austria, where he worked at a glass factory learning how to paint, cut, engrave and repair glass.
“I fell in love with glass,” said Puehringer, owner of The Crystal Cave, the glass engraving and repair business he’s had since 1970, “I loved everything about it.”
In 1967, after attending an arts and trade school in Kramsach, Austria, where he was trained as an artist with a specialty in glass, Puehringer was sponsored by Carson Pirie Scott to come to the U.S. to work as an engraver for the store.
After a few years, he decided to move to Wilmette and open up his own shop, which he named, Glass Engraving and Repair. A woman in the community came into the store and told him that changing the store name to something more catchy would help his business grow. Puehringer took her advice and renamed the store “The Crystal Cave.” On a side note, the woman was Charlton Heston’s mother, and both she and Heston became frequent customers and friends of Puehringer’s.
The Crystal Cave, which moved from Wilmette to Glenview a few months ago sells monogrammed and engraved personal and corporate crystal gifts, including wedding gifts, baby gifts, corporate awards, city skylines, and custom home designs on a crystal block and/or stemware.
“When I do a design, I think three dimensional, so I set it up to come out that way,” said Puehringer, “I have a product of art that is a luxury, but it’s affordable.”
Affordable because Puehringer said he figured out a process of engraving that can be done in much less time.
“I’ve been doing business with Josef for a long time,” said Sheila Hope of Libertyville, “I buy a lot of wedding gifts here and they do a great job personalizing it. Not only do they help you with the placement of the lettering, but also the fonts. They’re creative and helpful.”
Glass items at The Crystal Cave start at around $30 and go up from there, depending on the size, quality of the crystal, and the time spent on engraving.
The Crystal Cave also does glass repairs, which Puehringer said a lot of people don’t realize is possible with crystal.
Marin Kirov has worked at the company for nine years, engraving and repairing crystal.
“I’ve seen people cry because they are so happy that we’re able to fix something that is so special to them,” said Kirov, “We do our work here with passion and love. We’re trying to give someone memories.”
M.L. Jast of Winnetka has been a customer for 20 years, and said she buys wedding gifts and her husband’s client gifts here because the shop has such unique things.
“This is not the Bed, Bath and Beyond registry gift that anyone gives,” she said, “Here you are buying an individual item that is special for people.”
“It’s good for my soul to create,” said Puehringer, “I feel fulfilled when I do something perfect and the customer is happy.”
“The gifts are personal and thoughtful, and they’re something different,” said Hope, “Something that they won’t get from anywhere else.”
Three great holiday gift ideas:
1. Engraved Christmas tree ornaments, either monogrammed or a winter scene, or Puehringer can engrave your church! $30
2. Christmas designs, winter scenes with kids on plates, bowls or picture frames: $50-100.
3. Take a picture of your home and Puehringer can engrave it on a crystal block or stemware: $500 for an 8X10 block, $32.50 per glass.