12/09/2010

The ninth door - a shimmer on the tree


Ornaments - they come in all colors, materials, shapes. But what do you know about the history of Christmas ornaments?
Christmas trees used to be adorned with mostly edible pieces in the beginning. There were sugar figures, apples, nuts, gingerbread and marzipan. Some families still follow that tradition today.

Then there came the ornaments made from paper, cardboard or cotton wool, sometimes amazingly intricate designs. In Rothenburg ob der Tauber is a Christmas museum and I really loved the vintage ornaments.
In the middle of the 19th century finally the glass ornaments that we still know today were invented. Of course there is a legend to it, telling that a glass-blower couldn't afford to buy the expensive apples and nuts and therefore made his own glass ornaments in 1847. There are facts that speak against that. Whoever may have started it, though, at any rate it's fact that a glass-blower's order book from 1848 exists with an order of six dozen Christmas balls in different sizes. This was in Lauscha, a name that is not at all uncommon to lampworkers. Lauscha, a town in Thuringia, is famous for its glass-making and glass-blowing tradition.
Discount store owner F. W. Woolworth imported the glass ornaments into the USA around 1880 where they became a big success as well.

The Christmas ball, ornament, bauble or whatever you want to call it is still around today. Around mid-20th century in the Western countries the acrylic kind became more popular, due to the fragility of the glass variety (who doesn't remember the typical sound of a glass ornament hitting the floor and shattering to tiny pieces?), but that doesn't mean glass has disappeared from the tree.
Different designs have been developed as well, with a touch of whimsy or a little more modern - and still you recognize the beloved old bauble.

Check out these examples from ArtFire artisans - ornaments quilted, painted, with beads, with polymer clay, paper, even from wire or felted. Enjoy!


P.S. Click the image to get to the original collection. Unfortunately the layout of my blog doesn't go well with the collection layouts.

2 comments:

  1. They are Beautiful Cat. We all had hand painted ornaments with our names on them growing up. It's to bad we didn't take better care of them. Thank you for the little history lesson. <3

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  2. How lovely, Starri ... even if you don't have them anymore, you still have the memory.

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