“This is nowhere taught” – Christmas decorations and blow today as in the sixteenth century

Imagine, fighting strastnye, fascist already on the outskirts, is not known, whether will survive the capital and in the country organized the production of toys” – a report from Russia’s oldest factory of Christmas decorations. Went glass-blowing tradition, who wears a Christmas tree and how the era was reflected in the Christmas decorations – says Svetlana Hustik.

Svetlana Aksyutenko

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“Give the tree for the children”

The tradition of decorating the Christmas tree appeared in Europe in the XVII century. The pine tree hung gingerbread, wafers, nuts, apples. In Russia, the first Christmas tree appeared in the XVIII century, and installed them on roofs and fences of pubs. They were a guide to those wishing to walk can quickly find them.

The first Christmas decorations in Russia began to import in the early twentieth century from Germany. Cost then glass toys as it is today – a good foreign car. And was divided into two categories. For the rich it was a massive, heavy, and painted balls. For the poor toy out of cardboard and cotton wool. Very popular was the “Dresden cardboard” – when the toys glued the two halves of convex tinted cardboard. On the tree they shimmered and seemed glass.

Vintage toy handmade

– Previously, all there were toys of papier-mache, – says Eugene Eremeev, custodian of the Russian Ethnography of the Krasnoyarsk local history Museum. Behind them was a cotton toys. Their manufacture was time-consuming: on a metal frame extruded was wound cotton. The product was then impregnated with a paste, mixed with mica, dried, became hard and shiny. Did the figures of angels, clowns. They were hanged on the lower branches, so that the children could touch. But these products were short-lived. A little more durable toy produced at the Moscow plant “Moskabel”. Flowers, baskets, stars produced in the shop of consumer goods of illiquid wire of different color and diameter.

Toys made of papier-mache

However, after the revolution, in 1925, the Christmas tree in Russia was banned. And in 1936 in the newspaper “Pravda”, the second Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist party of Ukraine Pavel Postyshev took the initiative “to return the children to the tree.” From the Christmas tree it was decided to make a Christmas. Since that time, the country officially instead of Christmas began to celebrate the New year. Then began the mass production of Christmas decorations.

In the collection of Krasnoyarsk Museum of local lore the oldest toys date from the 1920-1930-ies of the last century.

– We have kept some of the vintage toys from the private collection of Gennady Vasilyevich Yudin, which was donated to the Museum by his direct descendants, – says Eugene Eremeev. One of the main wealth – tinsel that hung on the Christmas tree in the house Yudin. It has more than 100 years. Tiny glass and the samovar and the green light.

Glass beads from the collection of Yudina

Toys near the tanks

In Krasnoyarsk one of the first toys produced in the farm “Haberdasher”. It subsequently grew into the factory “Biryusinka”, which today is one of the oldest companies in the production of Christmas decorations in Russia.

In 1929, the gang consisted of seven craftsmen-individuals who made plaster figurines, puppet heads of papier-mache and Christmas ornaments from wool. Sewn mainly from primary production wastes, in the course of walking scraps.

– I’ve been here for 42 years and found those who worked from the moment of formation, – says the chief technologist of the factory Svetlana Aksyutenko. – We have in the archive is stored in a unique document – the governmental decree on the organization throughout the country of issue school supplies, children’s shoes and toys, which came out in 1942. Officially began the history of our factory.

Imagine, fighting strastnye, fascist already on the outskirts, is not known, whether will survive the capital and the country can arrange production of toys.

And it’s very right was the ideology. How to set the population that victory will be ours? Children should go to school and play. And we, along with tanks, released toys.

In 1959 the company was renamed the factory “Children’s toy” Crimespree, built a special building, where the already established a kerosene burner and had organized a workshop for the production of glass Christmas decorations. Also continued sewing soft toys. Then our staff along with the branch in Achinsk consisted of about 1 500 people. In 1967 we were called the “Siberian toy”, and in 1989 – factory Biryusinka.

After the restructuring we had almost 17 times to reduce staff, but most importantly, we have maintained the factory. Today it employs 80 people. Per year we produce about 300 000 of Christmas decorations.

This is nowhere taught

The factory itself is in the Soviet areas, and getting into them, you feel that you failed in the 90s. Inside is quite cold, the workers, most of whom are women – in robes on top of warm clothing. The roar as the machine-building plant, the smell in the paint shop, and the chatter of machines in a sewing workshop. At first it is difficult to imagine that here is born a Christmas story: fragile and delicate balls and icicles, majestic Santa Claus with the snow maiden, touching costumes plush bunnies and squirrels.

The most unique shop – glassblowing. Six gas burners in two rows, a glass tube preform shapes for toys of different sizes. Eyes in the deft hands of the glass, these tubes turned into balls, icicles, mushrooms.

Glass-blowing workshop

– Work jewelry and is physically very hard, – says Svetlana Aksyutenko. Glassmakers have the right, after 7 and a half years, 45 years to retire. Although our work for 25 years. This is nowhere taught, a skill passed down from older to younger. Will not everyone, even with light if everything is in order, it might not work. It is important not to be afraid of fire, that his hand felt good – it’s individual qualities.

This work is considered valuable because it is handmade. Of course, today there are kovovyroba apparatus, it is possible to buy them, but it will be rough, thick walled glass. So light bulbs blow.

Fragile delicate decoration of glass with the desired thickness of the walls may blow out. Technology insertion ancient, similarly worked glassmakers of Germany in the XVI century. Only their fur was a foot. We’re still in 1953 put electric compressors.

The artist at work

After the toy blew, she goes to the shop painting. There are real artist. Layer after layer is applied to the image, and between liberally sprinkled with products of sequins. Sketches of toys in the factory themselves. And sometimes find somewhere a Chinese fake!

Every year new collection. This year the leaders are “Flowers of Siberia”. Clusters of scarlet Rowan hanging from balloons black and white colors. Piece-instance – balls with paintings by Vasily Surikov. As you can fit in a Christmas tree ball “Conquest of Siberia by Yermak” – the mind boggles.

Another factory – PVC. It born toys of plastisol. Soft squeaking Santa Claus, snow Maiden and the character. This year – pig. Annual collection – tales: “the Turnip”, “the Golden Cockerel”, “tower”, “the snow Queen”. This is something that is important all year, not just before the holiday.

Shop PVC painted pigs from the plastisol

– New year we prepare year-round, – says Svetlana Aksyutenko. – Production does not stop for a minute. Although the boom of shopping, of course, starts in late November. But, for example, in February we will prepare the collection for the year 2020 and will continue to take orders from wholesale buyers across the country.

Toys, packaging for gifts, Christmas costumes buy from Vladivostok to Moscow. Today it is one of the leading factories, which produce all Christmas paraphernalia. But in December alone it opens doors for everyone almost every day go tours. Everyone wants to find out who is this fairy who brings home the holiday. The employees just don’t suggest to bring kids – let them believe in Santa Claus.

Corn, airship and baby

It is interesting that the first toys were not made on the threads, and primako. And on the tree they hung, and stood, – continues Eugene Eremeev. The first glass balls made of very thick glass, were heavy and were more like light bulbs. In the 50-60-ies of XX century there were toys-giant – huge Christmas cones, balls, painted with exotic birds. The themes of the decorations were fabulous heroes, wild flora and fauna, garden plants and household items.

Toys on primako

Christmas toy somehow always reflects the era in which she lived. So, in 1937, the dirigible “USSR-V6” set a world record for flight duration – 130 hours in the air. And instantly became a Christmas toy. Especially popular toys with the symbols of the state, for example, cones with the inscription “USSR”.

In the days of Khrushchev there were toys in the form of an ear of corn. The shortage, which began after, has provoked the emergence of a series of “edible toys”. On the tree hung the onions, carrots, cucumber, eggplant, pepper, lemon.

“Edible” toys

In the 60-70-ies of the majority of residents lived in malogabaritkah, so there was a series of “toys-babies”. They are decorated with small Christmas trees which were placed on the table. As a rule, small toy, repeating the usual Christmas decorations.


About the second half of 1960-ies Christmas toy began to lose its individuality. Started mass production of Christmas decorations, which is still ongoing. Unique toys a single specimen can be found only among collectors. By the way, international Association of collectors of Christmas toys recognize toys made only until 1966.

Svetlana Hustik

Author photo, from archive of Krasnoyarsk Museum of local lore and factories “Biryusinka”

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