Overheated and noisy industrial machineries are portioning the raw material necessary for the glass bulbs, when we enter the gates of Prodglob Classic Glass factory in Kolozsvár/Cluj-Napoca. One might think that the little helpers of Santa Claus are working hard during the Christmas season, but actually by the end of November high season is just about to end for the workers. December is the month of well-deserved rest for the managers and painters of the factory, where Holiday mood is at its best throughout year.
Established in 1994, the Kolozsvár-based factory produces high quality glass ornaments for Christmas. While the racks of shopping centers are full of cheap plastic ornaments, that are at hand to anyone, this small business offers people the chance to keep a morselof the old school Christmas Spirit of the dazzling glass bulbs. Entering the workshop of the painters of the factory is like stepping into Santa Claus’ world. They all assure us: painting on plastic and decorating glass is definitely not the same thing. Glass behaves more like a real canvas in the hands of the painters, all the small details that they might think of – such as parts of the snowy Christmas scenery of the bulb – are easily painted on glass, something you could never do on plastic.
Snowy courtyards, houses, chimneys and cute animal cubs come to life as the painters twist the bulbs in their hands with practiced movement. This skillful group of women turn the raw glass into works of art using only manual procedures in about 10-15 minutes. All the ornaments are mouth blown, silvered from the inside and finally decorated and painted manually, each collection having a unique design and shape. Classic, decorated, special, vintage, and Prodglob brand collections of ornaments of the Transylvanian factory are famous all over the world. They have as clients Christmas decorations shops on all five continents. Their main business partners located in the United States order hundreds of thousands of handmade ornaments of different shapes and sizes each year.
The deposit of the factory, where all the models of previous years are kept is another magical place of the family owned business. That is where we meet Mihaela Turcu, who is the brain and soul behind the business. Throughout the year she attends Christmas fairs with the purpose of gathering inspiration and also watches fashion shows to be in trend of the latest color combinations. She is not the type of business woman who will sell you her products no matter what. She is endlessly passionate about her job and the spirit of Christmas and she’ll always give you the best advice regarding decorating.
“After the borders opened in 1990 I was really excited to travel to Germany and spend the holidays over there”, Turcu says. “But when I saw the richly decorated Christmas trees, I thought to myself that the supply back home is not even close to that and this made me cry. I realized that a business which provides beautiful, handmade glass ornaments for Christmas would definitely have a great success back home. And I wasn’t wrong. Although I am making money out of selling ornaments and though it is fashionable to do that, I will never advise you to change your collection of ornaments each year. The vintage glasses inherited from my grandparents are of special value to me as well. With their twinkle of bygone times and childhood memories linked to them, they can give an added value to the Holidays.”
Photo credit: Angyalosi Beáta