Khokhloma Painting
Khokhloma painting on wood is a traditional type of Russian decorative work that was started in the second half of the 17th century on the territory of what is today Koverninsky region of Nizhnii Novgorod oblast.

The name of this type of painting was given to it after the trade village of Khokhloma - also located in the Nizhnii Novgorod oblast. From the 18th until the beginning of the 20th century this village was known as the trade center for the products of Khokhloma painting.

Khokhloma painting (or Khokhloma) is characterized by the original technology of painting wood gold without the usage of the metal itself. Wooden pieces (normally, kitchen utensils) were first covered by a solution of clay putty, linseed oil and tin powder (nowadays aluminum powder is used instead). Then the painting itself was made and the piece was covered by a layer of linseed oil varnish (now synthetic varnish is used) and hardened at an extremely high temperature in the furnace. Various combinations of such colors as red, black and golden are characteristic of Khokhloma painting. Most often used types of painting include the "topping" (red and black on golden background) and "background" painting (golden silhouette painting on color background).

In the beginning of XX century Khokhloma painting started vanishing as an industry, but it was revived in the Soviet years. In 1920s-30s painters united into artels. In 1960s such plants as "Khokloma Painter" (in Khokhloma's place of birth) and "Khokhloma Painting" (in the city of Semyonov) were founded. Ever since then these two plants have become the main centers of this type of decorative work.

Today the 300-year old tradition of the Icon Masters continues. Linden logs are harvested and seasoned for two years. Some are selected by wood carvers, while others are sent to turning shops, where lathes from the times of Peter the Great are still used today.

After the shaped pieces are dried in kiln rooms, a thin layer of brown clay primer is applied by hand and they are kiln dried again. After three coats of oil are applied to the primed pieces and they are air dried, their slightly sticky surfaces are now ready for tinning. Today powdered aluminum replaces the once- used tin. With the tinning process finished, and the pieces kiln dried for a third time, these shiny, silvered works are ready for the artist's hand.

Each silvered piece is painted by hand, without any initial sketching, ensuring that every single one is a unique work of art. The magic of Golden Khokhloma is in the final step. When the lacquer coating is applied, any of the ornament that the artist has left silver turns to a beautiful gilt illusion. Every piece takes approximately 58 days to make, and some up to four months.