Time to take down the Christmas trees
If you are fond of the Abkhaz Christmas toys, you have to be very careful when taking down the Christmas tree. These Christmas decorations are as fairy as they used to be in our childhood, but they are also the same fragile – they are made of glass in Sukhum. Like in the past, they are produced manually.
Sukhum Christmas toys production facility opened five years ago and since then it has been a brisk market. The New Year is the busy time and there are a lot of orders. Each toy is submitted for sale to the shop at RUB150 (US$ 2) and it is in demand. During this New Year season alone, the production facility, where 5 people are employed, submitted about 3 thousand Christmas toys.
When the holidays finish, the production facility gets back to its routine: cushions with photo prints, T-shirts, candles and many other things – and these products are also popular among Sukhum residents, – says Daur Gumba, the production facility director.
4 more people work with Daur. Among them are professional artists and glass blowers, as well as talented self-taught Asida. She used to work as a school teacher and she got at the production facility by chance – she went there to buy some Christmas toys for school. However, the charm of this production was so strong that Ashida left the school and became an artist.
‘I’m self-taught. I learned everything in the working process. Since I am a mother of two children and also a teacher, I have had certain skills – we often produced handmade things with children. I love my profession! The only disadvantage of it is that before the New Year, we leave the work all spangled from head to toes – says Asida.
The glass, from which the toys are blown, is not an ordinary one. This is a special, pure glass and the fine art or jewelry items, as well as medical utensils (flasks, dram glasses, test tubes) are made of it. Maximum size of a future ball depends on the tube diameter.
After the Christmas ball is blown, it is sent to another producing facility, where it is cooled and painted.
Initially, all the toys have a ‘tail’, which is cut only after going through all stages. The Christmas balls are 50 -150 mm in diameter. Glassblowers blow 100-150 pieces per shift.
Afterwards, the balls are sent to the artists – to Asida, whom we have already mentioned, and Dmitry. It takes 24 hours to complete one Christmas ball, in general.
Painting on a spherical object is not exactly the same as on a flat canvas, though it is probably the matter of skill, rather than a special talent. As far as ordinary Christmas balls are concerned, only the names are applied in golden paint and the upcoming year is indicated. Such balls cost RUB150 rubles (US$ 2).
Balls with the Abkhaz flag or emblem images require more time, so they are more expensive – from RUB700 and up (approximately US $ 9).
A Christmas ball with the Abkhaz Santa Claus image is considered the craftsmen’ hallmark.
‘At seeing our business developing successfully, many our acquaintances come, ask for our advice and open their own production facilities. However, six months later, they usually come to us again, offering to buy their equipment – in other words, they are closing the enterprise. It is not the matter of machine that anyone can buy. Machine is an irrational iron, provided that you don’t know how to work with it. In other words, it needs training, but this is neither a quick process nor a cheap one,’ says Daur.