I had the distinct pleasure of visiting the manufactory of Wendt & Kühn in Grünhainichen Germany last month. I got to see where the iconic Angel figures with eleven white dots on their green wings have their beginnings. Where exquisite treasures are created every day.
My two lovely hosts met me at the gorgeous W&K retail shop where many of the handcrafted figures are displayed. I had to have a picture in front of the Grand Sample Cabinet that presents figures designed and crafted over the 105 years of the company's history. Every year some figures are "retired" to the Cabinet not to reappear in the W&K catalog for years. And some figures are brought out of the cabinet, designs and colours updated and included in new Collections.
The retail shop and demonstration areas are spectacular and if that was all that I had seen on my visit it would have been good. W&K has this shop in Grünhainichen and another beautiful shop in Seiffen that I visited on an earlier trip to Germany. Wendt und Kühn holds Open House days twice during the year where visitors from all over the world are welcomed. For 2020 the dates are May 1 and 2 and November 28 and 29.
The shop is at the base of a small hill. The manufacturing process sort of starts at the top of the hill and works its way down. The wood that has been carefully dried in an offsite facility is brought in and cut in a zillion different ways. I saw bundles of pieces ready to be made into small stars and I saw all sorts of future shoes!Something that is very noticeable in any W&K figure is the natural angles of the arms and legs. Great care is taken in the design of each piece to create "movement" or the perception of movement in the figure's limbs. Can you image trying to figure out the angle of Orchestra Angels' arms as they play the many instruments - from percussion to strings to winds.
Each figure is treated to 2 coats of primer and then a coat of glossy white paint. This process takes a steady hand as the bottom of a W&K figure is not painted to allow for the natural wood to show. This gentleman dips the figure in the paint and then twirls off the excess. The figure must dry before the next coat is applied.
And then the detailed painting happens and that for me was the most fascinating part of the tour. Roomfuls of talented women sit with their trays of blank figures brushing life and character into them. They make it look so easy but it takes a very steady and practiced hand. I was told that of all the artists there are only about 6 who are allowed to paint the faces of the figures - creating the look of peace, joy and innocence.
I had the pleasure of bringing home a couple of special order items for customers in Canada and though I did not have much room left in my suitcase I brought
home two more sets that are currently in our webshop - the Set of Crowned Angels and the Pair of Easter Figures.
I feel so privileged to have been welcomed to Wendt und Kühn and to have met the fabulous women - Corinna and Christiane - who assist me with orders and my myriad of questions! I also got to meet the current managing director Claudia Baer (née Wendt) who is leading her family's company - but that's for another Blog!
Owner @ Gingerbread World