Sand and fire … makes the holiday sparkle

A display of glass-blown ornaments at the manufacturing plant in Jozefow, near Warsaw, Poland -- AP photo

From the White House and the Eiffel Tower to butterflies and wedding cakes, a Polish company can make any kind of blown-glass Christmas tree decorations that clients fancy.

The fragile ornaments, called “bombki,” are a fixture of Christmas in Poland, where they are made in many forms and designs.

Silverado, based in Jozefow, near Warsaw, employs some 50 people and works with another 150. It sells about 1 million decorations a year, primarily in the United States and Europe, in an astonishing variety of forms and designs. They can be found at the White House, the directors say.

Its showroom is filled with hundreds of different, unusual Christmas tree decorations, ranging from glittering traditional bulbs to famous buildings like the White House, Britain’s old red phone booths, vintage cars and flowers and vegetables.

“If the client wants to have a snowflake on an angel’s gown, he must have it!” says Magdalena Jaroszynska-Slodyczka, Silverado’s co-owner and its artistic director.

A painter decorates a gold heart with paint. -- AP photo

It’s the flexibility and the dedication of the crew that make their products special and worth the high price that the clients are ready to pay, she told The Associated Press.

The hand production is laborious. The glass shapes are blown by experienced specialists from glass tubes.

“Glass tolerates no mistakes, everything must be done very precisely and evenly,” said Ryszard Baran, between blowing bulbous shapes from glass heated to over 1,112 degrees Fahrenheit.

The transparent bulbs are then passed to Barbara Jablonska who gives them a silver coating. She puts a chemical solution containing silver into them and briefly immerses the bulbs in hot water, a process that produces the silver shine.

In another small house, filled with the stinging smell of enamel and glue, a few women are adding glitter, glass gems and other rich ornaments.

Ryszard Baran shapes hot glass into an ornament. -- AP photo

The all-time best-selling design is a fairytale frog, wearing a princely crown and sitting on a pillow, says Jaroszynska-Slodyczka.

“Everyone has this fantasy about a transforming kiss,” she says.

A decorator adds glitter to a blown ornament. -- AP photo