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Trimming the tree: Polish firm makes glass Christmas ornaments by hand

JOZEFOW, Poland – 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!” said Magdalena Jaroszynska-Slodyczka, Silverado’s co-owner and its artistic director.

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 higher than 600 degrees Celsius (1,112 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.

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 said.

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