Details, Vol XIX No4, October to December 2010
Oh, the timeless charm of glass-blown baubles—gracefully shimmering as they catch the light, softly nestled between evergreen boughs. These inviting icons of holiday joy have a special place in Christmas celebrations around the world. To many, they're much more than pretty palm-sized trinkets; they're gems, to be passed on through generations, gathering memories and spreading Christmas cheer.
The enchanting history of the glass ornament is rooted in our tree-decking tradition. Long before lights, tinsel and baubles, Christmas trees were trimmed with fruit, nuts, popcorn, candles, and all manner of baked goods. Small toys and candies were also hung from the boughs of evergreens, to be claimed by children on Christmas morning.
Modern-day tree decorations came into being in 1847, when the town of Lauscha, Germany, already famous for its glassblowing, began producing glass ornaments in the shapes of fruit and nuts. American five-and-dime store magnate and pioneer mass merchandiser F.W. Woolworth discovered these glass gems while on visit to Germany during the 1880s and made a fortune by importing them to the U.S. Lauscha remained the main ornament supplier for the North American market until the popularity of these tree decoration prompted their commercial production around the world. More than 150 years since they were first produced, tree ornaments are a treasured part of our Christmas celebrations and inviting icons of holiday cheer.
This year's Christmas commemoratives were designed by Michael Zavacky of the Ottawa-based branding agency, McMillan. "My mother was a great collector of ornaments, and they've stayed in the family," he explains. "Rummaging through my collection, I was struck by how fascinating they are. They really are works of art—elegant and delicate, each with its own memories attached. And the way they're so carefully preserved and passed on from generation to generation is a reflection of how valued they are in our culture."
Zavacky began the design process with hand-drawn sketches, moving to the computer, where he worked in a lively assortment of shimmering, swirling snowflakes—which were printed in clear foil for an authentic sparkle. "Growing up in Canada, Christmas was always about snow," he says. "I wanted the design to capture that experience."
Zavacky veered away from traditional reds, greens and golds, introducing a cool colour palette and limiting each stamp to two tones. He explains, "The contrast between the simple colours and the complex detailing of the artwork makes for an interesting visual." Interesting, indeed; this commemorative trio will add the perfect touch to all your holiday greetings and warm wishes.