Christopher Radko Fine hand crafted blown glass ornaments in turn of the century style.
Since 1986, Christopher Radko has devoted himself to restoring magic, heart and fine craftsmanship to holiday celebrations and it all began with a family calamity. His family’s Christmas centered around a 14-foot tree filled with glass ornaments collected by three generations. In 1984, the tree crashed to the floor one week before the holiday shattering almost every ornament. Also lost were many cherished memories and family traditions, but Christopher was determined to restore them.
Visiting relatives in Europe, Christopher found a glass-blower eager to revive the art of his great-grandfathers, dormant since the turn of the century. Christopher encourage him to recover their antique ornament molds, supplied him with designs from his own imagination, and sold the finished product door to door in New York City. Since his first collection i ~f 50 ornaments in 1986, Christopher has created more than 5,000 designs. From the lone craftsman who made the first ornaments, Christopher’s business has grown to employ more than 3,000 people in cottage workshops in Poland, Germany, Italy and the Czech Republic.
Each of Christopher’s glass ornaments is made entirely by hand, using techniques dating back to the l8OO’s — a process that requires seven days to produce a single ornament! The ornaments are mouth-blown in tempered glass for durability, lined with silver for luminescence and painted with loving care in every intricate detail. The delicate lashes on each face, for example, are hand-painted by Christopher’s famous “eyelash lady.” These personalized touches create the charming variations in each ornament that make it a one-of-a-kind heirloom.
The artistry of Christopher Radko was borne of a desire to bridge warm memories of holidays past with new traditions for today. Christopher takes pride in the way his creations connect families and friends, young and old, one ornament at a time. Radiant with sparkle and a glow from within, his designs are not just decorations. They are works of heart!
The Creation Process
Day 1: A Glass Rod Is Heated Before Being Blown Into The Mother Mold.
Once Christopher conceives a design, it is submitted to a carver who works a model from clay or plaster.
The carver then gives the approved piece to a mold maker. Using a Renaissance-era technique, a sand-cast mold is created from molten metal. This becomes the mother mold, and the ornament-making process can begin.
On the first day of production, the glassblower creates the ornament using clear tempered glass, used by Christopher Radko for its strength. Other ornament makers have used lower-grade glass, increasing the risk of breakage. Thus there is a noticeable difference in the weight of a Radko ornament, making it more solid to the touch.
Day 1: The Molded Glass Is Reheated And Tempered For Durability.
On the second day, the ornament is injected with liquid silver, another process clone by hand. The silvering gives the ornaments their luminescence and, once again, sets them apart from other glass decorations.
On the third day, the base coat of matte lacquer is hand-applied: the white on a snowman, for instance, or the red on a Santa. The following day, a second application of lacquer adds the ornament’s other vivid colors.
Day 4: Colored Lacquers Are Applied Over The Matte-Finish Base Coat.
Day five, fine details like the seeds on a strawberry are hand-painted. With painstaking care, artisans take the ornaments from the realm of decorations to pure works of art.
Day 5: Fine Details Are Hand-Painted.
On the sixth day, a dusting of glitter is applied to give extra sparkle; and on the final day, the finishing touches of placing the customized cap on the ornament, tagging, and packing the design for shipment are completed. The ornament is on its way to becoming part of your own holiday traditions!
FINE ORNAMENT CARE
Christopher Radko uses organic, water-based paints for his ornaments, so never use water, soap or solvents to clean them. Simply using a feather duster will preserve their sparkle and luster. Avoid displaying them indirect sunlight, as some pigments may fade. Store ornaments in a dry, dark place, avoiding humidity, dampness or extreme temperatures.