Khokhloma – folk craft miracle
Khokhloma is the pride of the Russian people! Khokhloma painting is an ancient original Russian craft, it is a decorative painting of wooden utensils, furniture. The name Khokhloma was taken from the large trading village where the wooden ware was first sold. Originally it appeared in the province of Kostroma, on the Volga, and later the centre moved farther south to Nizhny Novgorod. Residents of villages were engaged in painting wooden utensils from time immemorial. The roots of the Khokhloma art are in iconography. Icons were covered with a layer of silver, pulverized in powder, then impregnated with linseed oil and put in the oven. After this the icon had a golden color. Subsequently, cheaper tin appeared, and this way spread to utensils.
Today, most of the glass-holders, spoons, plates and other utensils are machined on a lathe from birch or lime. The painting, the real creative work, is still done by hand.
The first step is to surface the articles with a watery clay mixture containing powdered aluminium. Then they are given several coats of linseed oil and oven-dried at 140°-155° Fahrenheit. Red and black oil paints are used. Then the object is dried at a higher temperature than before. During this heat treatment the silver is turned into gold.
Khokhloma ware can safely be used for hot tea or soup.
Today, Khokhloma is a unique phenomenon not only in Russia, but also in the world art. After the world exhibition in 1889 in Paris, the export of Khokhloma products sharply increased. The dishes appeared on the markets of Western Europe, Asia, Persia, India. In the twentieth century they appeared in the cities of America, Australia and even Africa.
The artistic style of the Khokhloma painting is unique – the ornaments are instantly recognizable among many others.