Zhostovo Painting: from Russia, with love
|Heart Shaped Zhostovo Tray|
At the same time, Zhostovo painting technology has a lot in common with the lacquer painting that appeared in the village of Fedoskino at the end of the 18th century. First the metal trays are coated with a few layers of priming and oil varnish. Then the artists paint the trays with a soft brush and oil paints diluted with linseed oil. They mostly create floral ornaments. It may seem kind of boring at first, but when you look at those trays and see all the diversity of the pictures your doubts will disappear. Besides, those trays have different shapes: guitar-like, round, octangular or rectangular. Smooth curves are one of the characteristics of Zhostovo trays. Some of them also have delicate carved handles.
|Rectangular Zhostovo Tray|
The history of Zhostovo handicraft
|Blue Floral Russian Tray|
Here’s how Zhostovo trays are made:
- The tray is made by hand. First a piece of iron is cut out. Then the smith shapes a tray with a hammer and anvil. In order to make the tray stronger the masters often roll a wire into the edge of their trays. However, nowadays metal sheets are often cut by a machine and then shaped by electric press.
- The tray is prepared for painting. That’s the stage when the trays are covered in putty, painted black and covered two or three times with varnish. Each layer is dried and cleaned with sandpaper, which is a fairly long process.
- The tray is painted. The first phase of painting is called “drawing” (“zamalyovka”) and the second one is called “adjustment” (“vypravka”). During the drawing stage an artist outlines the bouquet with a wide brush. After that the tray is left to dry for 12 hours at a specific temperature. Did you know that the artists don’t do any preliminary sketches on the trays? They totally rely on their skills and imagination, and they know that the picture has to be perfect from the beginning. As for the adjustment stage, it consists of several operations, during which the artists add small, even minute details and polish the trays with a rough cloth. Then the ornament is painted on the sides of the tray. At the end, they cover the painted tray with two or three layers of lacquer. Only then the tray is considered ready for selling.
Some facts about Zhostovo artists:
- Future artists start learning the craft at a very early age. Parents-artists give their children brushes, oils and other materials and play with them in order to teach them the basics of tray painting. The most talented children continue their apprenticeship and eventually become artists.
- Did you know that a craftsman works on several trays at once? An experienced artist can paint up to ten trays daily! And during the painting process the artist keeps the tray on his/her lap, so that the tray can be moved or rotated in any direction that the artist needs.
- Zhostovo artists know everything about the biological structure of flowers, but they seldom paint only real objects. Instead they let their imagination rule and often paint flowers that don’t exist mixing them with real life forms. Thus they create truly inimitable masterpieces.
By: Arina Anashkina