The story of the Christmas bauble

Christmas tree baubles belong at least as much to Christmas as the Christmas tree itself or for many people, the gifts. In classic red, modern beige or mystical black they sparkle in the candlelight and harmonize with the green of the branches. But these Christmas symbols have not existed for so long, because before the 19th century, the Christmas tree was decorated mainly with apples, sugar and other goodies. Later, these Christmas tree decorations were decorated with silver or gold. In addition, Christmas tree pendants were made from paper and colored in different colors.

At that time there was no industry that dealt with the production of Christmas tree decorations. The tree decorations were made in the families themselves – every year anew, because many of the tree pendants were consumed. During that time, apples and nuts were then colored entirely in silver or gold and thus made inedible. This made them the forerunners of the modern Christmas tree baubles, but also had to be made anew every year – at least the apples, which will eventually rot.

Glass – a fascinating material
Glass is an incredibly fascinating material. It is hard and delicate at the same time, can be colored and shaped, can be rolled and pressed, cast and blown. Glass can be painted, printed, scored and etched, it can be worked in many ways and transformed into the most magnificent works of art with simple technical means. On the Christmas tree, glass baubles sparkle and glitter in the light of the candles, creating a magical Christmas atmosphere. Handmade Christmas baubles made of glass are always unique: They are not evenly round and smooth like machine-made baubles but have gentle curvatures and slight dents. No ball is like the other, and yet each of them is something very special.

Mouth-blown glass objects also sparkle on the Wanner trees. The glassblowers in their family businesses in the Thuringian Forest, in the Czech Republic and Poland manage very well to combine tradition and modernity in their works of art and to implement formal and colorful specifications in such a way that in the end beautiful glass works with fine shapes and many details are created.

Even in ancient times, glass objects were not only used for everyday purposes, but also for decoration. However, it is not known exactly when people discovered that quartz sand, lime and soda, when fused together at 1400 degrees, produced the wonderful material glass. It is believed that the Egyptians were the first people to discover this wonderful secret by chance while trying to make glazes for pottery. At least, this is suggested by pieces of glass found in Egypt and dated around 5000 B.C. They are considered to be the oldest pieces of glass. From Egypt the new material then reached Rome via Greece and from there to all other European peoples. However, it was to take some time until the art of glassblowing was developed: In the first century after the birth of Christ, the Phoenicians discovered that hot glass can be blown into shape by mouth.

Huge quantities of wood were needed to make glass to fire the furnaces of the glassworks. This is how the first glassworks were built in the 16th and 17th centuries in the Thuringian Forest, the Ore Mountains, the Giant Mountains and the Bohemian Forest. The first glassworks in the Thuringian Forest, popularly known as the “mother glassworks”, was built in 1597 by the master glaziers Hans Greiner and Christoph Müller. In the years until 1923, 16 more followed. At first, simple utility glass was produced there, for example drinking glasses, beer steins, slugs or bottles for the medicinal herb industry. The Lauschaer Glass soon found its way to other parts of Germany.

Then, as now, the design of the glass objects was based on artistic and historical models and ideas from around the world. Very early on, Venetian ornaments were popular, which in turn, in part, can be traced back to Islamic influences. Venice had risen to become the leading European trading power in the 14th century. At this time Venetian glass art also experienced its heyday, especially on the island of Murano, and reached all corners of the world via trade routes and ships. Their elegance, shapes and patterns still characterize the entire art of glass art today – including that of the Thuringian Christmas tree ball manufacturers.