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Trees by Radko
It all began with a family
calamity: In 1984, Christopher Radko decided that his family’s
rusty old Christmas tree stand had served long enough. He
replaced the stand and put their 14-foot tree in a gleaming new
aluminum model. His family decorated the tree as always, with a
treasured collection of over 2,000 mouth-blown, European glass
ornaments. As it is for most families, their Christmas tree was
a family diary with a story to go with each ornament. One week
before Christmas, tragedy struck. The new stand gave way and the
tree crashed to the floor, shattering almost every ornament.
Many cherished memories and family traditions lay among those
broken pieces, heartbroken, Christopher was determined to
restore them for his family.
Trying to replace his family’s heirlooms
proved to be a daunting task. Ornaments sold in the United
States were, at that time, made of plastic and styrofoam,
certainly not capable of replacing the handmade treasures his
family had collected over generations. The following Spring,
while visiting cousins in Poland, Christopher began looking for
glass ornaments. While he didn’t find the treasures he was
looking for, he did find a man eager to revive the art of his
great-grandfather; a tradition once thought to be lost forever.
Christopher encouraged him to
recover antique ornament molds, supplied him with sketches of
his own childhood favorites, and for good measure, new designs
from his own imagination. Several dozen ornaments were produced
for his family, but those ornaments never made it to the family
tree. Instead, friends in New York purchased all of them. On his
next trip abroad, he brought back more ornaments: many for his
family, and some extras, which sold out, as well.
Christopher realized he had discovered something wonderful!
While at his job in the mailroom of a talent agency, he spent
his lunch hours going door-to-door to stores in New York City,
showing his designs. Georg Jensen, a top of the line jewelry
store, was his first retail account. Through hard work
Christopher achieved $75,000. in sales by the end of his second
year. Now in its 19th year, his company continues to thrive.
Cleaning Tips for your Radko Ornaments
When it comes to cleaning, gentle care will
ensure that your glass
will be around for decades for you and your children to enjoy. The paint
or lacquer used on Christopher Radko ornaments is water based. Do not
clean any ornaments with water, glass cleaner, detergents or other
chemical solutions all of which could smear the finish. Instead, just dust
off your ornaments with a simple feather duster, which attracts dust like
must be protected from extreme temperature changes and humidity-
conditions often present in unheated, un-insulated areas
like basements and attics. Such unstable environments can cause stress
fractures over time. Never store or display ornaments in direct sunlight,
which can cause delicate pigments to fade. Instead, keep ornaments in a
guest-room closet or some other temperature-controlled place.
Wrap these fine collectibles in acid-free tissue, microwaveable paper
towels, or cotton batting and store them in sturdy plastic containers or
sturdy cardboard boxes with secure tops.
How a Christopher Radko Ornament is made
conceives a design, it is submitted to a carver who works a model from
clay or plaster. The carver then gives the approved piece to a mold maker.
Using a Renaissance-era technique, a sand-cast mold is created from molten
metal. This becomes the mother mold, and the ornament-making process can
Day 1: A glass rod is heated before
being blown into the mother mold.
On the first day of production, the glassblower
creates the ornament using clear tempered glass, used by Christopher Radko
for its strength. Other ornament makers have used lower-grade glass,
increasing the risk of breakage. Thus there is a noticeable difference in
the weight of a Radko ornament, making it more solid to the touch.
The molded glass is reheated and
tempered for durability.
On the second day, the ornament is
injected with liquid silver, another process done by hand. The silvering
gives the ornaments their luminescence and, once again, sets them apart
from other glass decorations.
On the third day, the base coat of matte lacquer is
hand-applied: the white on a snowman, for instance, or the red on a Santa.
The following day, a second application of lacquer adds the ornament's
other vivid colors.
Day 4: Colored lacquers are applied
over the matte-finish base coat.
Day five, fine details like the seeds on a
strawberry are hand-painted. With painstaking care, artisans take the
ornaments from the realm of decorations to pure works of art.
Day 5: Fine details are hand-painted. Note that the
ornament still has the top of the glass rod, which will be trimmed on the
seventh and final day.
On the sixth day, a dusting of glitter is
applied to give extra sparkle; and on the final day, the finishing touches
of placing the customized cap on the ornament, tagging and packing the
design of shipment are completed. The ornament is on its way to becoming
part of your own holiday traditions!
All the different stages of creating a magical Radko
ornament are shown here.
Article courtesy of Radko.com
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