It’s that time of year, to hang lovely balls and baubles from the tree as you decorate your house for Christmas. But as you’re hanging all those colourful charms, did you ever wonder who invented these now traditional decorations, and how they’re made?
The first Christmas bauble similar to the ones we know today were created in 1847 by the German glazier Hans Greiner. He made it only because he could not afford the typical exotic fruit and decorated nuts that were once typical decorations. He used the remains of glass that he had after finishing his usual jobs of glasses and glass windows, and created small glass balls to make his children happy. But his decorations sparked interest beyond just his children’s, and the custom soon spread to the rest Germany. Later, via Prince Albert who was born in Bavaria, baubles came to Great Britain; then, from Victorian England they went to America and finally to homes around the globe.
And how to make a real Christmas bauble? Well, it’s not so easy, to be honest, and impossible to do on your own unless you’re a trained glassblower. The production process consists of several stages and is quite time-consuming as well. The glassworker starts with a long glass tube, which is heated over a special burner to a temperature of 800 degrees Celsius. At such high temperatures, the glass becomes fluid-like and a blower can give it the desired shape. This is not easy and requires a lot of practice, as the glass cools quickly and it is difficult to fix if there are any mistakes.
The molded shape is put aside for a few hours and, once it is hard enough, it goes through the next process of silvering. The glassworker injects the future bauble with a special liquid that contains a touch of silver, giving the trinket a nice colour and glossiness. The shaped baubles then end up in the hands of artists, who use their delicate brushes and creative flair to add designs and colours to these decoration that will eventually find their way onto a tree.
Curious to learn more about the handmade arts and crafts of Christmas? Hop on our pop-up Krakow Christmas tour to shop for decorations in a local market, sip mulled wine from a barrel, and sample the most festive dishes of the season!