Sue and I grew up in families where holiday decorating (and decorations) played a starring role every December. Both of us cherish and remember the stories associated with certain ornaments passed down from our grandmothers, mothers, and family friends.

When we launched EuropeanMarket in 2010, we knew we wanted to offer Christmas ornaments. But, not just any holiday baubles, we wanted to bring our customers the type that we cherish, the kind that are crafted with care and would someday become family heirlooms.

So, after weeks of research, time doing some investigating on the Internet, and exchanging of emails across the Atlantic, we found several European artisans who create beautiful, handcrafted decorations. I’d like to take you on a journey to two of their workshops; one in Germany and the other in the Czech Republic.

Intricate glass and papier mache decoration from Marolin.

Intricate glass and papier mache decoration from Marolin.

Marolin—Steinach, Germany

North of Nuremburg, is the small town of Steinach, home of Marolin. This company has been creating wonderful handcrafted papier mache and glass Christmas and Easter decorations since the early 1900s. The company also produced toys for a number of years. In fact, we sell some of their vintage wood blocks and picture puzzles, in addition to their decorations. From 1972-1990, the company was taken over by the communist East German government and left to wither. But, with the collapse of the wall and German reunification, the family was able to re-gain their business. Today, Marolin is run by our friend, Christian Forkel, the great, great grandson of Richard Mahr the original founder.  Marolin ornaments are exquisite and all are crafted using original molds.

My favorite glass bead tree topper from Rautis.

My favorite glass bead tree topper from Rautis.

Rautis—Poniklá, Czech Republic
In December 2009, we left Dresden, Germany and drove three hours to the Czech village of Poniklá. Here, we met Bara and Marek Kulhavy. Marek’s family has been creating exquisite glass-beaded decorations for over 100 years. Each piece is crafted with mouth-blown glass beads and fine wire. I wish everyone could see the skill (and care) that goes into every ornament crafted in the studio. Rautis also supports many families in the area by allowing women to work in their homes making ornaments. Every ornament carries a certificate certifying their origin as a handcraft of the Krokonose mountain region of the Czech Republic.

 

 

 

 

 

 

For more information:

+Steinach and Thuringia—www.thuringia-tourism.com

+Czech Republic—czechtourism.com

+Shop—www.EuropeanMarket.US