We are living in a hasty time. I am angry when already they start to sell Christmas decorations in the beginning of October as if somebody would like to make our lives even faster…
But I know a place where they have Christmas all year long. It is a small company “Slezská tvorba“ in Opava – the town in the Moravian-Silesian region in the Czech Republic. Every year, more than a half of a million of Christmas ornaments, which are produced here, are on their way to Christmas trees not only in the Czech Republic, but also in Slovakia, United Kingdom, USA, Germany, Netherlands, Austria, Sweden, France… The glass decorations are still produced here by hand.
It does not look like Christmas in the first room yet. A young woman is heating a long glass tube over a flame, then she spreads it out and cuts out a smaller piece – “the body of a future bauble with a long neck”. Her colleague takes this piece, heats it again over a flame and within less than 15 seconds she blows out a bauble from it. It looks easy as if a child would be blowing bubbles, but in reality it takes months to learn how to blow a perfect shape and size. We can hardly believe it, the woman just smiles and tells us she produces a thousand of baubles on one working day. She takes another piece of glass, heats and inserts it into a clay form, blows, opens the form and a cute glass piglet comes out from the form.
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We enter the next room. The blown decorations are swirled into a silver nitrate solution here. We can see silver angels, cones, cars, spikes…
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And then at last we enter the room where it really looks like Christmas. On the walls, shelves, boxes and tables – there are Christmas baubles everywhere. Different sizes and colors, but shades of violet prevail. There are also small decorations reminding our traditional Christmas gingerbread cookies. Skilled painters are painting fine straight and wave lines, spirals, trees and other motifs on baubles. After that they sprinkle glittering powder which sticks on it. You have to be really skilled for this work as well, you have to be able to not only draw a straight line, but also to compose the decoration on the whole surface of the bauble. And you have to create new patterns all the time (more than 600 every year!) because the Chinese competitors are copying them immediately! Nevertheless, glass Christmas baubles are something completely else than those plastic ones made in China! In the last stage the long necks are cut off and a tiny crown with a loop is placed on each ornament. After that we can already hang these decorations on a tree.
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I tried to find out whose idea it was to adorn Christmas trees with baubles and other glass decorations. Trees, which were part of plays about Adam and Eva in the Middle Ages on December 24, were adorned with apples and pastries. There are different legends about people who were the first to replace real apples with glass baubles, it might have been a poor glassblower, some legends give even his name, but the only fact is that it was somebody from the German town Lauscha. They are still keeping an order from 1848 for six dozens of “Christmas baubles” of different size in that town.
We end up in a factory shop. It is as colorful as Christmas only could be. There are baubles, spikes and other decorations we saw directly during their production, and among them snowmen, fish, clowns, gloves, owls, bells, teddies, dogs, kitties… even a Tutankhamun! If you are not satisfied with the offer you can even decorate your own bauble in a workshop which is a part of the shop. I am sure that everybody who could see this production will take Christmas decorations with more respect up to now and if he/she breaks a bauble he/she will not only say: “Well, never mind, I will buy a new one” but he/she will feel more sorry because he/she will remember the hands who created and decorated that bauble. It were women´s hands. There are 30 women working in that company and only three men: the chief, the driver and the doorman. However, we found one more – the shop assistant. What a pity that he – at least at this time before Christmas – was not dressed as the Santa! The illusion of Christmas would have been much more perfect…