Zhostovo village near Moscow is one of the centres of traditional Russian crafts – Zhostovo trays. The first lacquered metal trays with bright flowers on the black field came out here in 1825 and made Zhostovo a famous place. Modern artisans keep making trays according to the old traditions, but in their own style. A tour to Zhostovo factory includes a museum, a demonstration of the process and workshops. In the shop near the factory, they sell trays but also cups, glass-holders, diaries, and other things decorated with Zhostovo painting.
In the museum, you can learn about the history of Zhostovo craft and see the rich collection of trays. The trays are of different forms, size and design and belong to different times. The biggest trays made for taverns were as big as a table, while the smallest had the size of a saucer. They were not only black but white, blue, red or green with flower bouquets, scattered flowers or wreath and light golden pattern on the borders. The favorite flowers of Zhostovo artists are roses, dahlias, convolvuluses.
Here, you can also see some modern interpretations of folk art. There are the trays decorated with still-life paintings that were popular in the 19th century, landscapes or Soviet symbols.
Zhostovo trays are decorated with a multi-layered painting technique. In the factory, you can see the process of painting Zhostovo trays. Third-generation of artisans quickly put strokes with the paint-brush, turns the tray and adds new strokes. A light movement of a brush makes flowers bloom. As if by magic, flowers come out of the darkness. If this charming process inspires you, you can participate in a workshop and paint a tray yourself.
During a workshop, you can paint your own Zhostovo tray. You will get a small black tray already prepared for painting, with a sketch on it. If you like, you can remove the sketch and make your own. The guide reminds you of the technique of Zhostovo painting and helps you, if you need help. It doesn’t matter if someone has a talent or not. In any case, you will get a unique tray. Write your name and the date. Keep in mind that your tray should be covered with a few layers of lacquer and dried, so you can get it 2–3 days later, in one of the Moscow shops.
They say - Zhostovo trays are eternal. An original tray is made of thick metal, covered with layers of primer, enamel, paint and lacquer. It never sags, if you put something heavy on it. Its painting never fades or rubs off. It can tolerate heat and cold. It should be smooth and mirror-like and have a factory stamp. You can learn more about the specialties of the original Zhostovo trays visiting the factory and enjoying the wonderful variety of bright flowers on the black field.
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