iny. Colourful. Delight. These are the three words that immediately come to mind when I think back on my visit in early 2020 to Graupner Holzminiaturen in Germany's famous "toy" making region called The Erzgebirge.
During my two and a half weeks in Germany to visit the workshops that make the beautiful items we sell in our shop I found myself with a few hours free to drive to the small town of Crottendorf. It was a bit spontaneous but my new friend Elli whom I had met at the Graupner booth at a trade show I had attended was willing to make time to show me their fascinating workshops.
Driving through the Erzgebirge region it becomes obvious why this area of Germany creates such beautiful folk art: the hilly countryside is covered with thick forests, rivers and creeks have cut the landscape into interesting features, centuries old castles and churches are everywhere nestled amongst the most picturesque towns.
The company Graupner Holzminiaturen is named for the family that started the business and still runs it - very much involved with every aspect of the creation of the "holzminiaturer" or wood miniatures. Papa Graupner not only runs the workshop but also designed many of the machines they use to cut each tiny piece that will be glued together by hand to create Christmas ornaments, Pyramids, Easter ornaments and the most remarkable Music Boxes.
Mama Graupner is the colour expert and has devised a low tech but ingenious way of painting the tiny pieces. The paint room was by far my favourite stop on the tour and Elli - my tour guide and second gen Graupner - told me it is the most photographed spot!
Finally we visited the loft where several women were gluing the tiny pieces together into colourful and delightful ornaments and figures. For this Spring and Easter we are bringing into Canada the colourful Dragonfly, Bird, Flower and Ladybug clip-on ornaments. I am looking forward to decorating my Easter Tree with these. They should be available to order in early March.
As always, I am as in love the backstory to the products we sell as I am in love with the products themselves. So many of our collections come from small studios in Europe similar to Graupner - run by people who are passionate about the things they make, the way they make them and the towns they make them in.
If we ever get to travel again and if Germany is on your bucket list add this region and this town to that list. The Graupners offer tours and more interestingly craft sessions in their upstairs room where you get to create your own ornament or figure out of the many little coloured parts. Although I visited after Christmas, Elli created some Christmasy atmosphere with carols playing in the background and incense curling up into the air from one of their Smoker Figures.
Looking forward to someday traveling to Europe again!
Owner @ The European Ware Haus and Gingerbread World
Photo Credits: Graupner Holzminiaturer - from their delightful Instagram feed @graupnerholzminiaturen