A Guide to Buying, Displaying, and Storing European Blown Glass Christmas Ornaments

25 Nov

One of my favorite Christmas traditions from my childhood was getting a new Christmas ornament from my stocking each year. For years now, I have been collecting European blown glass ornaments, and my mom continues the tradition of adding an ornament to my collection each year. I’ll be honest, I can’t help myself and I add to my collection too.

If you don’t know where to look, finding high quality, European glass ornaments outside of Europe can be a wild goose chase, but I’m here to share my secrets! These tips come from years of collecting, a little bit of research, luck, and even some travel.

First, I’ll break down brands to look for: searching for specific makers helps tremendously! Then I’ll go over some of my favorite places to hunt, both in store and online. After that, I’ll cover some tips on displaying and storing the fragile ornaments to keep them safe and secure on the tree at the holidays and stowed away the rest of the year.

Brands:

  • Christopher Radko – Christopher Radko is really the brand that popularized intricate blown glass ornaments in America and can be found at department stores and boutiques alike. These ornaments are made in Poland. They tend to retain or gain value for years to come and are quite popular on secondary markets, like Ebay.

    Weihnachtszierde – Weihnachtszierde, literally translated means “White Night Ornament” or Christmas Ornament. This Polish brand makes some unique, numbered, limited edition glass ornaments painted to look like tin toys.

    Tin Toy Monkey Ornament

    Weihnachtszierde Tin Toy Glass Monkey

     

  • De Carlini- These free blown style ornaments are made in Italy. De Carlini most often makes figures or animals of glass with mixed media props.
  • Wiktoria Morawski –W. Wiktoria-Morawski, another free blown maker, isn’t likely a name you’ve heard, and chances are you wouldn’t come across the name easily either. I owned many Wiktoria-Morawski ornaments before I knew the name from purchases at various stores, where the ornaments came unmarked. It wasn’t until I bought my favorite souvenirs in generic white boxes with a tiny stickers at a shop in Munich that I learned of the company. These Polish gems are some of my absolute favorites for a couple of reasons including shapes blown into clear glass domes and a clip-on selection better than any other maker.

    Penguin Snowscape Ornament

    Morawski Penguin Glass Dome

  • Eric Cortina- Eric Cortina makes some of my favorite quirky and whimsical ornaments such as my French bulldog wearing a top hat, bowtie and a spectacle, and my clip-on of Santa’s boots sticking out of the Chimney. He also makes my crown tree topper.
  • John Huras – This guy’s story is really neat. Accustomed to the gorgeous and traditional trees of Poland, he originally started making ornaments for orphanages whose trees he wished could bring more cheer to the children.John Huras Russian Santa Ornament
  • Jay Strongwater – Jay Strongwater ornaments are on my wishlist, not my tree. The designer’s glass ornaments are pricier than most, with a very distinct enameled look.
  • Patricia Breen – I don’t own a Patricia Breen ornament (yet), and while the more traditional themes aren’t typically my style, the detail on each ornament is magnificent.
  • Landmark Creations – Landmark Creations is best known for their ornaments of, well, landmarks. Artist Michael Storings has a line made by Landmark Creations of lovely hand paints bulbs, typically of different holiday scenes in New York City.

    I Love BG Taxi Ornament

    Landmark Creations Michael Storings Bergdorf Taxi Ornament

  • Krebs Lauscha and IMPULS are German and Polish companies, respectively, that make some of the widest variety of more readily accessible European glass Christmas ornaments.
  • Inge Glas – Inge Glas is one of the oldest German-based glass blowers. These little treasures are usually more reasonably priced than other brands.

Stores:

  • Bergdorf Goodman (New York, New York) – Bergdorf Goodman has many exclusive ornaments with at least five themed trees each year. Their in store selection varies from the limited options you see online, but contact the store and you can shop through pictures via email. They will ship internationally, but if you’re in New York City for the Christmas season, I highly advise a stop on their 7th floor where their Christmas room is set up.
  • Neiman Marcus (multiple locations)- Neiman Marcus boasts of the widest variety of European ornaments I can find locally in Austin year after year. They have excellent buyers who select many ornaments made exclusively for them each year. Be sure to shop in store because like Bergdorf, their sister company, the majority of their exclusive ornaments are not available online.Russian Doll Ornament
  • Last Call (multiple locations)- Neiman Marcus Last Call can be hit or miss, but often during the holidays you will find a small selection of last year’s ornaments that didn’t sell out at Neiman Marcus or Bergdorf Goodman.
  • Tuesday Morning (multiple locations) – At Tuesday Morning you can find a few different brands, including Radko’s from last season at up to 75% off! Most of what you find will be IMPULS, found in those pale yellow boxes.
  • TJMaxx/Marshalls/HomeGoods – Most years these stores carry something, but there is no telling what. Brands and selection vary greatly from store to store and year to year. On a couple of occasions I’ve scored a Radko for under $10! Again, many of the ornaments will be IMPULS.
  • Dillard’s (multiple locations)- Dillard’s is one of the few national department stores that carries Radko in store. Go and check out the quality for yourself!
  • Mia’s Christmas Gallery (Ocean City, NJ) – I haven’t been here myself, but based on their sister website, DaPolonia, mentioned below, I hope to make it here eventually.
  • The Christmas Store (Fredericksburg, TX) – If you’re in central Texas, this is a great little shop for any time you need Christmas fix as it is open year round. They are one of the few retailers in the United States that has an entire room dedicated to Radko ornaments. If you’re out-of-state, give them a call, and they’ll help you hunt down what you’re looking for.

    Wisdom on Display Ornament, Signed

    Christopher Radko Limited Edition Owl Ornament from The Christmas Store, Fredericksburg, Texas

  • World Market – Cost Plus World Market usually has a small selection of ornaments made in Poland. Their quality isn’t always superb, but I’ve got some fun additions like a hamburger, stand mixer, and Big Ben.
  • Pier 1- Pier 1 has a very limited selection of European blown glass ornaments, but you can count on them to have one or two each year.

Online:

  • Ebay – Ebay is a vast resource for ornaments. Searching by brand or generically searching for “Polish Glass Ornaments” or “German Glass Ornaments” will return tons of results. I often brose the seller, xmasworld, who sells a great variety of mostly Krebs and IMPULS
  • ABC Home – I have had less than stellar experiences with ABC Home’s customer service, but I have found a few Wiktoria Morawski clip on ornaments that were worth the trouble on their site. Shopping in the beautiful store at the holidays is pure magic if you happen to be in New York City.
  • Gracious Home – Gracious Home is another lovely NYC home store you can shop online. They stock a selection of Radko and Morawski ornaments as well as a few IMPULS options.
  • Bloomingdale’s – Bloomingdale’s carries a handful of Landmark Creations ornaments each year including a few Michael Storings’ baubles.
  • Directly from Poland– After seeing one of my blog posts I was contacted via Instagram by @morawsky. I was able to purchase sales samples or production endings directly from Wiktoria Morawski. I’ll admit I was hesitant at first, but was delighted when my dozen or so ornaments arrived unbroken.
  • GiftsbyKasia – Gifts by Kasia is a Polish owned shop that sells the largest variety of Wiktoria Morawski ornaments I have found online. Join their e-mail list. They have occasional sales and even send out giftcards!
  • Christopher Radko – In very recent years, Christopher Radko has made their annual collection available directly from their website.
  • Amazon – Amazon is more difficult to navigate when it comes to searching for ornaments, but if you find a specific ornament you like, pop over to Amazon for a price comparison.
  • Horchow – Horchow is the sister company of Bergdorf Goodman and Neiman Marcus, and usually has a similar selection to the two stores on their website. They carry Eric Cortina, De Carlini, Christopher Radko, and Jay Strongwater.
  • Bronner’s – Bronner’s online stocks a simply enormous variety of Christmas goods. The site can be overwhelming, but if you click on “Christmas Ornaments” and then “European-Made” it narrows down the scope to a manageable number of pages. Most of what you find here will either be IMPULS or Krebs.
  • The Cottage Shop – The Cottage Shop sells the widest variety of De Carlini ornaments I have found on the world wide web as well as a smaller selection of Polish ornaments.
  • Dapolonia – Da Polonia is a pricier resource overall, but they have a truly unique selection. I’ve been eyeing the unavailable “Girl with a Pearl Earring” ornament for a couple of years now. They have some makers I am unfamiliar and some Wiktoria Morawski ornaments.
  • Silverado – Shipping at Silverado costs approximately $50, but their ornaments are so well priced that if you are looking to buy a handful or more, you end up saving in the end. Silverado carries the best selection of Weihnachtszierde brand ornaments I have found
  • Dillard’s is one of the few department stores that carries Radko in store. Go and check out the quality for yourself!
  • RogersGardens – Roger’s Gardens sells the best selection of Eric Cortina ornaments I found. They also stock Christopher Radko.
  • Christina’s World– The selection is huge!

Non-European ornaments are not always sub-par I have a few treasured ornaments that were made in China. Sometimes you just find an original concept or design that makes up for lesser quality and sometimes the quality and detail are equally lovely. Old World Christmas ornaments are made in China, but if you are looking for a specific shape or theme, Old World Christmas is a high quality go-to. Anthropologie occasionally carries blown glass ornaments that are unique and worthwhile. I also have a few ornaments on my tree that are travel souvenirs made in China, such as a bearskin soldier I bought in London. Waterford’s blown glass ornaments are typically made in China, but the detail on my Waterford ballerina ornament rivals that on many of my German and Polish made ornaments.

Waterford Ballerina Ornament

Waterford Ballerina Ornament

Display:

Generally speaking, glass ornaments are better displayed on an artificial tree because real trees have moisture that can damage this finish over time. The likelihood of this causing any significant damage in your lifetime is small, so If you prefer to celebrate with a real tree, you do you.

I highly recommend purchasing Sure Grip Clips for displaying your fragile favorites. You can find them online, but they are pretty pricey. Hobby Lobby carries them in store for a song in comparison. I replaced all of the clips on my ornaments in 2014 and feel like they insurance my collection’s safety. There have been accidental shakes and bumps of our tree without shattered glass.

Storage:

While plastic is typically not advised for storage of precious blown glass ornaments, for moisture reasons, I use Snapware to store all of my ornaments. I just don’t trust cardboard not to get crushed. I try to control moisture in other ways which I will share in a second. Another bit I have learned is that the Snapware storage boxes are the same size as the Christmas boxes, available year-round, and usually priced lower than the green and red holiday variety.

While Snapware comes with dividers, I buy Ikea Drawer Dividers. If you buy the Christmas Snapware, you will receive more than enough cardboard dividers. If you buy the storage variety like I do, you will only receive enough plastic dividers for one tier. That’s just fine by me though: Ikea Drawer Dividers are the perfect height and are far more customizable, so you can arrange them to fit the stranger shapes and sizes.

In order pad the ornaments and combat moisture, I use Archival Shred that I buy from the Container Store. I also add Silica Gel packets to the bottom of each tier in order to trap any moisture that might make its way into the boxes.

Do you think I’m crazy yet? Do you know of any stores or brands available stateside that I’m missing? Do you collect a specific type of ornaments?

Get more Christmas inspiration from my holiday PInterest board!

Advertisements

Please note: Wordpress prevents me from seeing your e-mail address. If you post a comment you would like a response to, check back on this post or leave your e-mail address in the body of the comment.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: