Souvenirs from Russia: Khokhloma

Khokhloma tableware Khokhloma tableware, The Golden Khokhloma Museum, Semyonov 

I believe almost every family in Russia owns at least a couple of wooden wares - spoons, or bowls, or maybe plates - painted in the so-called Khokhloma style. These simple utensils coloured with images of grass, berries, flowers and leaves in red, gold and black look really impressive and beautiful. This folk art dates back to the 17th century and is named after the village Khokhloma on the Uzola River in the Nizhniy Novgorod region. One of the distincitive features of the Khokhoma style is the characteristic gold-ish colour which is created without applying real gold. The technique is very peculiar: first the unpainted wooden article is coated with special priming, then with drying oil and a thin layer of aluminium powder. The "silvered" object is then painted with heat-resistant oil, varnished and fired. The gold colour appears during this final stage, when the article is kept in a kiln at up to 90C.