- Title: UKRAINE: Handmade Christmas decorations hold their own in mass market
- Date: 24th December 2009
- Summary: KIEV, UKRAINE (RECENT) (REUTERS) HUGE CHRISTMAS TREE IN INDEPENDENCE SQUARE CHILD COMING DOWN SLIDE DECORATIONS ON CHRISTMAS TREE REFLECTION IN CHRISTMAS BAUBLE
- Embargoed: 8th January 2010 12:00
- Location: Ukraine
- Country: Ukraine
- Topics: Arts / Culture / Entertainment / Showbiz
- Reuters ID: LVA4QRQ6NHHU690O8SQ6SBZJM8WQ
- Story Text: Cheap mass produced products largely dominate the Christmas tree decorations market, but nonetheless, handmade decorations are still defending their holiday market share.
One example of such handicrafts is the decorations from the Klavdiyvsky factory, based near Kiev in Ukraine. Established in 1949 as a glass manufacturing plant it was converted to make Christmas tree decorations in 1953. It is one of four handmade toy manufacturers in Ukraine.
The factory employs 60 people, mostly women, who blow the glass into shape and then add various images and decorations. But the process is about ten times as slow as when done with specialised machinery.
"Sometimes you need to take same bulb in your hands five times in a row. Apply one colour, put it aside to dry. And now in the winter it dries slowly, thus it takes more time. So you may need to work on the same bulb up to five times. And it is time consuming. You can make between 20 to 30 a day, if they are complex ones, otherwise up to a hundred," painter Lyudmyla Zabilo said.
The payment painters receive for decorating one ornament ranges from 0.35 to 2-3 hryvnas (1 hryvna = 0.08 euros). The decorations fetch 10-30 hryvnas on the high street.
It is a not a job for everyone, says Lyudmyla Zabilo
"Only those who love their job work here. As you need to be patient. The work is sometimes monotonous. That's why only those who like this job can work here," she said.
The increasingly competitive market has brought financial trouble to the factory forcing it to bring in a number of significant changes such as the introduction of excursions that attract both children and adults from around Ukraine, reminding them of the long lasting traditions of glassblowing and painting.
Another innovation introduced to attract customers is a factory website. The modern style of the website contrasts with the factory itself which has hardly changed since its construction shortly after WWII.
According to factory manager Mykola Sarkisyan, the real challenge for the factory is finding skilled labour.
"To become a qualified glassblower one must study for at least half a year, and only then he will feel that he can work here. But generally, when young people come, they don't stay. Well, it is a very specific job: you are always sitting, it's hot in the summer and it's equally uncomfortable in the winter, not everyone will want to go through this," he said.
Despite the financial hardships, hopes remain high, with the market for handmade Christmas ornaments growing. The domestic market is slowly starting to again favour the higher quality handmade toys with traditional themes as opposed to the less culturally specific plastic imports.
"Customers prefer to buy Ukrainian-made glass decorations," said Maryna Gusak, sales woman at a Central Department Store in Kiev. "Because these glass decorations are hand-painted and look much nicer than the plastic ones."
Other countries are also buying decorations from the Klavdiyvsky factory due to a shift in tastes towards handmade goods. The future of the factory depends on whether this trend continues or customers decide to choose the more affordable, cheaper mass produced decorations for their Christmas tree.
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