Thursday, December 9, 2010

Christmas Ornaments ~

Victoria Magazine is often the source of beautiful ideas on life that is going on far away from me. But the reason their articles are so interesting is that they are so full of what makes us all tick. Down deep we all yearn for the depth that gives us a hold on real life--not just any life, but the one that is filled with joyful experience, as in "It's A Wonderful Life." It doesn't matter whether we can bring these special aspects into our lives at the moment, but it is at the moment that we share with other readers the basic pleasure of an article which reminds us of beauty or prosperity or heritage. And that is the case for me with the article titled "Artistry in Glass" in the November issue. As I re-read the article about Inge-Glas of Germany, I wanted to give you a peek into the history of a company that has endured through so much trouble. So here is the story of this company,  inspired by the article in Victoria Magazine and with information from their own website.

In the late 1500s in Lauscha, Germany, the Muller family of glassblowers worked diligently to produce quality glassblown products. From generation to generation, the craft of glassblowing was handed down. Every family had its own speciality: some choosing glassblown churches, others choosing glassblown pinecones. But by the 1860s, the Muller family was famous for their Christmas ornaments. For many years these glassblown ornaments were produced at the same workshops in Lauscha, Germany.

But in 1951, with the Russian occupation of Lauscha, 14-year-old Heinz Muller-Blech--a 13th generation descendent of this tradition--had to flee to Neustadt, where he re-established what is now Inge-Glas workshops. He had to leave East Germany and make a new life in West Germany, and he managed to smuggle his glassblowing tools and several ornament moulds with him. Once settled, he began to look for antique ornament moulds. His family in East Germany would send packages to him containing half a mould, so that authorities wouldn't confiscate them.

Heinz' formal re-establishment of the company to Neustadt in 1953 began as a small workshop with 3 employees. For years, Heinz and his wife Inge continued the tradition of glassblowing handblown ornaments, and they spent many happy hours making hand-crafted Christmas ornaments.

In the 1960s, Klaus Muller-Blech, a 14th generation descendent, spent countless hours in the glass workshops of his parents and grandparents learning the various aspects of the glassblowing craft. He grew to love this vocation and knew it was ingrained in his spirit.

In 1992, Klaus came to the United States for the Golden Glow of Christmas Past Convention searching for ornaments of his family's past. There he met Birgit Eichhorn-Jeremias-Sohn who was also from Neustadt, also from a glassblowing family, and also looking for antique ornaments of her family's. Amazingly, they had never met in their hometown, but after meeting at the convention, they fell in love and married. Soon they  joined forces and families, combining their traditions and skills. Together their collection includes more than 6,000 antique moulds from the 1850s, including 700 bird moulds. 

The Inge-Glas company--named after Heinz Muller-Blech's late wife, represents a family operated business who still produce the same quality product that generations before them produced. Their ornaments are heirlooms. Every ornament is mouth blown and hand painted, piece by piece in limited quanities. 

Preserving a 410 year old history and family tradition of glassblowing, Inge-Glas factory uses only a pure, high grade German glass, and lead-free German paints, lacquers and glitters. They produce what we call "green" products that are absolutely safe for your children and family. 

To see many beautiful ornaments, go to page 60 of  the November issue of Victoria Magazine, or go online and search for companies selling them. One good website from which I also took information is Trendy Tree, selling all shapes and sizes. There are many different ornaments at varying prices, but they're all bright and beautiful, bringing the best of an old tradition to us today. I hope you find this story as inspiring as I do!

Have a wonderful day!


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