in Haselbach, the small village over the mountain
from Lauscha, where German glass blowing began in
1597, Hausdörfer Glas Manufaktur is a small
Mario says, "I am a fifth generation ornament
maker. I grew up as a child learning about how the
ornaments are made. It takes great precision and
patience to make these ornaments. I probably
started when I was four years old, watching my dad,
and by 15, I was blowing glass."
Hausdörfer workshop has the use of over 1,000
different molds - some dating back at least 80
years and others newly created each
Hausdörfer blowing glass, Roger Lund,
owner of The Christmas Haus with Mario's
father Gerd blowing glass, Mario's mother
Karin silvering the insides of
freshly-blown ornaments, and Mario and
Roger in the Hausdörfer Glas
in 1597 in Lauscha, Germany, the Müller family
created mouth blown glassware. Two and one-half
centuries later, in the 1860s, the
Müller-Blech family customized their craft to
create mouth blown, hand painted ornaments. For
nearly as many years, a second family, the
Eichhorns, produced fine quality glassware as
1953, following the World War II Russian occupation
of Lauscha, Heinz Müller-Blech fled to
Neustadt-by-Coburg, Germany, and there he
reestablished the family workshops. Today the
company and its Christmas ornament collection,
Inge's Christmas Heirlooms™, bear the name of
his late wife.
the early 1990s, through marriage, the
Müller-Blech and Eichorn families combined
their traditions and skills. Inge-Glas® remains
a family operated business built by 14 generations
of effort, heart, and soul. And to this day, many
of the ornaments are handcrafted in molds that date
to the 1860s.
pictures below are from a recent visit to the
workshop in Neustadt-by-Coburg.
vault of current molds.
blowing clear glass ornaments.
silvering the inside of the ornaments.
painting each ornament—with drying
time between each color.
glittering each ornament—again, with
drying time between each color.
Lund, owner of The Christmas Haus,
selecting ornaments with Klaus
Müller-Blech, the 14th generation
head of the family company.
Glas and Old World Christmas: Between 1984 and
2000, The Merck Family's Old World Christmas
distributed Inge-Glas® German-made ornaments in
the United States. In 2001, Old World
Christmas began producing its ornament designs
in China, no longer capped with the Star
Crown™, which is owned by
Inge-Glas®. Since 2001,
Inge-Glas® has exported its glass
ornaments under its own name, complete with the
exclusive Star Crown™, which continues to
identify mouth blown, hand painted ornaments from
the 14th generation Inge-Glas® family workshops
in Neustadt-by-Coburg, Germany.
Richard Mahr company was founded in the 1900 by
Richard Mahr in his parents' home in the town of
Steinach, Thuringia. Like many family craft
businesses then and now, the house was both a
residence and a workshop. His Marolin paper mache
figures became known worldwide until World War II
stopped the production.
family lost control of the business to the East
German government from 1949 to 1990. In the 1970s,
the original family paper mache recipe was lost. By
chance, workers found the formula written on a
cellar door in 1990.
Richard Mahr's granddaughter, Evelyn Forkel, and
her son Christopher operate the family company,
molding classic Germany paper mache figures, many
of them in her grandfather's molds from more than
100 years ago.
are poured into a form to create a hollow body.
the molds are made of plaster of Paris, they absorb
the moisture of the liquid and a thin layer sticks
to the mold's walls.
figurines are hand-painted, demonstrating the
decorator's masterly skill and love for details.
Each piece takes about one week to
Schaller ~ Ino Schaller ~ Dieter Schaller ~ Thomas
Schaller from 1894 to the present
Schaller started a company in his home to
produce paper holiday articles, including paper
mache, flocked, and pressed cardboard items, in
1894, in Neustadt-by-Coberg, in Bavaria, in west
His pieces, especially the paper mache candy
containers that open from the bottom or middle,
were exported to the United States by Woolworth's,
which had a warehouse in nearby Sonneberg until
Schaller inherited his father Carl's business,
but by the late 1940s, he moved into pressed
cardboard figures, and by the 1960s was producing
pressed plastic forms as well.
Dieter Schaller, Ino's son, also made
cardboard toys and figures, such as rabbits, ducks
and Santas. Both Ino and Dieter produced plastic
plush-covered figures through the '70s and '80s,
and the family continues to produce them
Schaller, Dieter's teenage son, found his great
grandfather's candy container molds in the family's
attic in the mid-1980s. Fascinated, he sought the
help of his father Dieter to revive the craft of
mold casting and pouring paper mache.
Today, there are many candy container
"reproductions," but nothing matches the integrity,
quality and artistry of one made in the original
mold, by the same family, in the same house where
the original family business began more than 100
pictures below are from a recent visit to the
Schaller family home and workshop in
process of making Ino Schaller paper mache
and composition figures takes seven days.
On the first day, the craftsperson
combines liquefied paper, clay, glue, and
a few secret mineral ingredients.
On the second day, the worker blends the
mixture to a smooth consistency and pours
it into a two-part plaster mold. In a
short while, the plaster draws out some of
the water content, leaving a thin paper
crafter pours out the excess liquid, and
the shell dries through the third day. On
day four, the artisan dips the paper mache
form in liquid plaster, creating a thin,
smooth white skin for the hand painted
details and trim. The plaster skin makes
this a "composition" figure.
On the sixth, seventh and eighth days, the
artist applies layers of paint, fine
details, and glaze, with drying time
between each coat. Finally, the artists
apply the finishing touches such as
chenille, cellulose shavings, ground glass
Lund, owner of The Christmas
Haus, selecting candy containers
in the Ino Schaller showroom in
Lund, owner of The Christmas
Haus, and Thomas Schaller, 4th
generation head of the family
Erzgebirge is a low mountain range just north of
the Czech Republic border in the German Province of
Saxony, south of Dresden. Although originally known
as a mining center ("Erzgebirge" means "ore
mountain"), the mountains have always been covered
by abundant forests.
forests of the Erzgebirge
Erzgebirge Wooden Folk Art (The original
Wilhelm Friedrich Füchtner nutcracker is in
in the early 14th century, mining of silver, tin,
iron and nickel fueled the area's economy. By the
late 17th century, making wooden wares for
household use became a second significant source of
response to the growing demand for toys in the 18th
century, more and more woodworkers became
toymakers. When the mines began to play out around
the middle of the next century, the miners turned
to the cottage industry of woodworking to support
village of Seiffen, situated in a valley surrounded
by forested hills, is the present day center of the
traditional Ergebirge wooden folk art. There are
about 200 full-time woodworkers in the region and
perhaps 800 part-timers, mostly working in small
year-round workshops and family
of the workshops represent generations of the same
family, working in the same surroundings, to
preserve the heritage of wooden toys and folk art
designed by their ancestors more than a century
Lund, owner of The Christmas Haus, arrives at the
Füchtner Homestead in Seiffen
Friedrich Füchtner (1844-1923), known the
world over as the "Father of the Nutcracker"
produced the very first "mass production"
nutcracker around 1870, using a water-powered lathe
to turn the body parts rather than carving each
nutcracker by hand. His home workshop in Seiffen,
the small toy-making village in the middle of the
Erzgebirge in eastern Germany, is still the home of
the finest nutcrackers.
His ancestors were carpenters and in the wintertime
they were out of work. In order to provide for
their families, they used their woodcarving skills
to produce wooden figurines. In 1786, Gotthelf
Friedrich Füchtner sold the first wooden
figurines at the Dresdener Striezel Market.
six generations later, Volker Füchtner honors
his great-great-great grandfather by still
producing nutcrackers in the old tradition in the
very same home workshop—the birthplace of the
Füchtner at his lathe
Lund, owner of The Christmas Haus, and
Volker Füchtner in the Füchtner
of the most charming forms of Erzgebirge wooden
folk art are "span trees" and the decorations and
ornaments based on the tradition of
Spanbaumstecherei (carving wooden trees with
intricate curly branches).
trees are known by many names - span trees, chip
trees, splinter trees, shaved wooden trees, twilled
trees, or curled trees. Using a method developed in
the 1930s, the trees are hand carved of linden
wood, curl by curl, layer by layer.
Rudolph and her husband are among the leading
woodcarvers who produce these trees, as well as
ornaments, wall and window decorations and
lighting. As a child in the Erzgebirge, Martina
Rudolph learned the family tradition of
Spanbaumstecherei from her father Helmut
Beyer, a well-known woodcarver. She practiced these
special skills as a hobby, and in 1996 opened her
own small workshop in Seiffen to produce this
unique Erzgebirge folk art for others.
1985 Klaus Merten opened his small family
workshop in Seiffen to produce typical Erzgebirge
folk art as a master wooden toy maker. He patterned
his smokers after the designs of Gotthelf Friedrich
Haustein, who created the first smoking man in 1856
or 1857 in the small village of Heidelberg, just
outside Seiffen. Four generations of the Haustein
family continued to produce smokers until 1948.
Before opening his own workshop, Klaus Merten
worked as a department manager and restorer in
Seiffen's Erzgebirge Toy Museum. Shortly after the
workshop's founding, Klaus showed his work at the
Leipzig Autumn Fair and won acclaim for his
Merten's smokers, inspired by the historic Haustein
models seen in the town's toy museum, have grown
from the initial 20 different styles to a seemingly
endless series of more than 100.
Like Haustein smokers, Merten's designs feature
long thin legs, unique bodies and heads, painted
faced and wooden arms. Today, Merten's smokers are
still hand-turned and painted in small
male smokers feature the workshop's signature white
pipe with floral decoration. Each smoking man comes
with a certificate signed by Herr Merten, Master
In 1998 the District Administrator of the Middle
Erzgebirgskreis and the Association of Artisans
Erzgebirgisch awarded Klaus Merten the greatest
public recognition for his work, the prize
"Tradition and Form." In May 2000 Matthias Merten,
Klaus' son, joined the workshop to help to continue
his father's traditional handicraft.
Merten and Roger Lund, owner of The Christmas