While our folk art and handicraft are gorgeous, the pottery is simply brilliant. It’s hard to decide whether to buy toys, sculptures, or porcelain, so why not take it all to remind you of Russia?
Gzhel – Nowadays, the name Gzhel is used to describe artisan porcelain and pottery production and painting. Since ancient times the village of Gzhel and the entire Gzhel Oblast have been famous for their clay deposits; which have been actively mined since the 17th century. The extracted clay originally was used to manufacture pots for pharmaceutical products. It was later used to produce bricks, tiles for stoves, pottery, and toys, which were very popular in those days.
Dymkovo artisanry has existed for more than four centuries now. It emerged in the village of Dymkovo near the city of Viatka, which was later renamed after Kirov (now it is the territory of the city of Kirov). Toy manufacturing traditions were passed down through generations strictly from mothers to daughters, which gradually led to the emergence of entire dynasties of craftswomen. Their products were largely characterized by original ornaments, proportions, and colors. Dymkovo toys are among the most famous Russian folk art items.
The process of toy making has remained unchanged to this day. The toy is molded manually from red clay, dried and tempered, then whitewashed with tempera white. The toy is manually painted with tempera paints and gilt. The products are incredibly bright, dominated by red, green, blue, and yellow colors.
This artisanry was born in the village of Khludnevo in the first half of the 19th century. Most often, it was a family manufacturer, and, like in Dymkovo, only women were involved in the making of toys. Men manufactured crockery and other household items.
The toys consist of several parts and represent multi-figure compositions, characterized by rough moulding and exquisite naivety. The painting is quite simple, dominated by undulating, horizontal and vertical lines, pagan signs of sun, sky, and life. Not the entire toy but only its individual parts are painted, like the ears, tails, birds’ wings, and elements of the garments.
The toys are painted with bright aniline dyes, dominated by red, green, yellow, and maroon.
The village Khludnevo is located in the Duminichi district of the Kaluga Oblast.
Filimonovo toy – One of the oldest surviving handicrafts, Filimonovo toys are more than seven hundred years old. The artisanry emerged in the area due to rich deposits of a special clay named Sinika. It was used not only to make toys, but also for crockery.
Pennywhistle toys have remained the main product of the Filimonovo factory through today.
Sinika is blue clay with some unusual properties. It is very oily, which complicates the process of modeling – it tends to crack while drying and the cracks have to be repeatedly smoothed, which gives the figurines that very distinctive, disproportionately refined form. During the tempering the clay changes its color to bright white.
Skopino ceramic products – These products are a type of folk handicraft, consisting of traditional pottery manufacturing. The emergence of this craft dates back to 1440s. Large production began later, in the 19th century. It was created by the Ovodov brothers. It was used to manufacture crockery of amazing beauty, bricks, tiles, and other household items, and construction supplies. Like in many other industries, the company was nationalized after the revolution. After a short break in 1934, production was resumed.
Since ancient times, the village of Balkhar has been known for its pottery. Ancient folk motifs are used in decoration, and only craftswomen are involved in the production. Special attention is given to crockery and small sculptural forms.
Balhar masters use 15 kinds of clay extracted nearby. The products are created in the technique of coiling clay strap. They are tempered in an ancient oven, traditionally rekindled with pressed dung and firewood. The product is painted directly on the slowly rotating potter's wheel, and its pattern is not designed in advance, but emerges during the process. Consequently, all products are unique with a great variety of ornaments. The painting is done with a solution of white, yellow and red clay. Simple elements are predominant, including dots, wavy lines, stripes, circles, and spiral strokes.
The village of Balkhar is located in the Akusha District of Daguestan.
Gus-Khrustalny – The “crystal factory” started the production of crystal as early as the eighteenth century, in 1756. It was built by merchant Akim Maltsov on the Goose River. It was under his son, Ivan, that the factory’s popularity reached its peak.
Today, "the Gusevskoy Crystal Factory" maintains its status of artistic production.
The factory manufactures products of the highest quality. Crystal products are striking in their beauty and multicolored play of light on their surfaces; they are durable and have a unique musical jingle. Gus crystal is known all over the world, and in every Russian home there is surely at least one of its products.
Yaroslavl majolica (products from tempered clay, covered with painted glaze) is a very young craft, but has already become popular. The majolica workshop was founded in 1992 by Evgeny Shepelev and Natalia Pavlova.
The workshop quickly gained disciples. It produces a wide range of products – there are wall panel pictures and figurines, Christmas toys and bank boxes, candlesticks, vases, and small magnets. They are painted in both pale pastel and bright colors.
The workshop is located in the city of Yaroslavl.
The Imperial Porcelain Factory was the first porcelain factory in Russia. It was opened by a decree of Empress Elizabeth in 1744. It’s hard to imagine a product that the factory has not produced since then! From classics and modern works to Soviet realism and the deliberate simplicity of the times of Khrushchev Thaw. The Imperial factory predictably was a supplier of the imperial court by making amazingly beautiful original knickknacks - snuff boxes, figurines, dishes and vases. Many of them already occupy their deserved place in museums.
The period of the 1920s is particularly noteworthy, when the nationalized factory began to produce "propaganda porcelain" - statuettes and other items dedicated to the revolution and the changes that were happening in the country in the difficult post-revolutionary times. Some distinguished artists, including Kustodiev and Petrov-Vodkin, took part in their creation.
Some products from the Kuznetsovsky porcelain factory, built by Kuznetsov in the village of Dulyovo in 1832, are today recognized as antiques. The enterprise has gone through many ups and downs. The factory used to produce majolica, faience, and porcelain. The products varied from toilet bowls and telegraph insulators to highly artistic crockery sets.
Kuznetsovsky porcelain is a brand famous not only in Russia, but all over the world.
Today, the factory continues to manufacture porcelain products, and they are true works of art from top to bottom, whether it is a thematic crockery set, mugs and dishes for the holidays and memorable dates, vases, or souvenirs. The factory is focused not on mass production, but on the creation of unique works of art, many of which exist only in as one of a kind pieces. All items are hand-painted. Its products obviously are not cheap, but believe us - they are worth the money.