Lacquered Miniature

Technology of lacquered miniature is long and labor-intensive. At first, half-finished products are made from arboreal cardboard with every layer glued (up to 10 layers) using meal glue. Then the items are dried naturally.

Next, they are bathed in boiled butter and dried over the course of nine-ten days in stove chambers. Dry half-finished products are then sawed. Bottoms are glued using casein glue, connecting details are pressed together, covered, and joints are fastened. This is followed by machine polishing to ensure smooth surfaces. Then articles are treated with drying oil, caulked to level unevenness, and polished by water-resistant sand-paper. Next, two-three layers of black enamel, then black lacquer, cinnabar, and transparent lacquer on the inside. Each layer is dried in stove chambers at 70-80 C over 7 hours. Items are dried 5-7 times in total.

After this laborious task handicrafts come to painters who make small strokes on the surface using thin squirrel brushes with tips as thin as the tip of the needle. Fedoskino masters paint miniatures using oil-based paint. Palekh, Kholuy, and Mstyora artisans make paint handicrafts using egg tempera.

Finift (Enamel)

The art of miniature painting on enamel (or Finift as they frequently name it in Russia) is one of the most interesting and bright kinds of miniature painting. The elite, exclusive character of miniatures on enamel is defined by high picturesque skill of the artist on enamel and extremely difficult process of their manufacturing.

Throughout the years such work has always been expensive and appreciated akin to jewels, since it varies in color, transparency, and luster. Enamels
mainly were owned by the high society. For centuries, enamel has been preserved not only for the benefit of the Russian culture but also as a precious part of the world's art.

The technique of art enamel is based on the brush painting method. A thin plate of silver or copper or form made of these materials is covered with white enamel on both sides. On the obverse an outline of a composition and its details are painted with the enamel of intensified color. Then the firing is made and the inside of the outline is painted with enamels of different colors placed next to each other. The firing is repeated 10 to 15 times in view of different enamels used in the process. Russian painted enamels are characterized by the filing of an outline by means of hatching. In the shaded enamel technique color transparent or non-transparent enamels as well as colorless transparent enamel are used. The last is applied to the outline of a drawing before the last firing to protect the painting from damages.

The enamel technique became came from Europe to Russia. The Russian enamellists founded their workshops in the Moscow Armoury, Solvychegodsk and Great Ustug. Rostov jewelers learned to paint on enamel around this time too. At the first Rostov enamellists produced little icons, decorate richest settings of church books and different church plate. The subjects of the paintings were changed in the 19th century. Artists became fulfilled portrait miniature; copies of colored prints adapted them to the features of enamel painting.

Now Russian modern school of art enamel exists and successfully develops. Its representatives do not concede and frequently surpass the issued predecessors in Rostov of Jaroslavl region. Finift jewelry (earrings, rings, brooches, pendants, bracelets) are modern, beautiful and not-repeated.

Fedoskino Miniature

Fedoskino is located in Moscow Region situated about 30 kilometers (20 miles) from the Russian capital on the bank of the river Ucha.

Fedoskino work is instantly recognizable. At first, it was the only Russian lacquered miniature-painting village to create in oils. Moreover, only this miniature is made on mother-of-pearl plaques, metal foil, and blanks powdered with metal dust. Finally, pictures are dimensional, figures are naturally proportioned, and perspective is generally not inverted.

Famous Fedoskino glow is attained through very thinly diluted, and therefore transparent glazes hits direct painting with bold colors to provide highlights and details. Before polishing to a brilliant gloss the painting is covered with three layers of light lacquer. All together some twelve layers are involved.

It was in the 16th Century two types of Oriental decorated boxes found their way in to Europe. One was the Persian casket, the second was of Chinese lacquer articles. Piotr Korobov invited fore craftsmen from Shtorbwasser factory in Germany to teach their know-how to the staff of his cardboard factory at the village of Danilkovo, the original village is situated on the opposite bank of the river. Korobov started out making lacquered peaks for military uniforms, but soon graduated to decorate snuffboxes. About 1818 Korobov's son Piotr Lukutin inherited the factory, expanded the workforce and ensured a higher standard of artistry. The last Lukutins died in 1902 and the factory closed two years later. The out-of-work craftsmen formed a cooperative society, the Fedoskino Labor Artel of Former Employees of the Lukutin factory.

During the nineteenth century, Fedoskino miniature art took much of its inspiration from classical Russian painting, as well as from ancient Russian engravings and popular paintings. Although in the 1920s and 1930s Fedoskino was still reproducing the themes of the Lukutin era and to this day demonstrated it's kinship with Russian lithography, folk pictures and Nineteenth Century easel painting, with the typical motifs of the "troika", the round dance, tea-drinking and other rural scenes. There has been a marked tendency since then to explore other subjects, notably the fairy-tales, also architectural vies and decorative flower compositions.

The process of production of lacquered papier-mache items wasn't undergoing changes from nineteenth century.

Mstyora and Kholuy Miniature

National trade of lacquered painting of the village called Mstyora (now it is Viaznikovsky region of Vladimirsky oblast) was appearance at the base of the icon painting. Carpet decoration, variety and refinement of picturesque tinges, which contain with general tone of all composition (artists of Palekh use colour contrasts) are typical peculiarities of Mstyora's miniature painting.

Colors gamut of Mstyora's artists is blue-silver or yellow-red. Sometimes artists of Mstyora are painting their works by only one ornament (pattern from grass, leaves and fruits).

Similar to Palekh and Mstyora, artists of Kholuy (in Ivanovskiy oblast) are painting their works by egg tempera. The trade of Kholuy was born on the base of the icon painting. Intensify color gamut, complicated framing ornament, large-scale details of composition are typical for items with Kholuy painting. In contrast to Palekh artists, artists of Kholuy give the main role to tone solution of the landscape. In color attitude yellow, orange, red, brown and saturated blue and green colors are prevalent. Contrasting combinations of the warm and cold tones are common for lacquered painting of Kholuy.

Palekh Miniature

The unbelievably colorful art of Palekh is known in all countries of the world. The elegant black-lacquered art pieces come to life with firebirds and troikas subjugating us with beauty of the fantastic world of Russian folk and admire us of their color chord harmony. Village Palekh is situated about three hundred eighty kilometers (250 miles) to the north of Moscow in Ivanovo region. Its present population is over 7000 and nearly three hundred fifty artists work there.

Village Palekh sprung at the earth of Vladimir-Suzdal principality. Nobody knows a certain date of Palekh foundation. But it's clear that the settlement was here before the 15th century. The people immigrated to those places had brought their icon painting. Documents of the 17th century tell us about icon-painting handicraft in Palekh. Because of bad roads Palekh was seldom visited by customers and influenced on the development of Palekh art. That is why it had kept old icon painting traditions. In 18th century Vladimir icon-painting was going to end. It was spread only in Mstyora, Palekh, and Kholuy. Up to the 19th century, in contrast to industrial Mstyora and Kholuy, Palekh had kept its simple forms of family icon-painting. Palekh masters continued to work both in agriculture and icon-painting, the last was when they had free time. In the 40s of the 19th century some capitalist relationships began to penetrate the Palekh life. The family icon-painting became rarer. The masters began to do business - they brought icons and sold them in towns. At the beginning of the 20th century traditional icon-painting began to decline.

After the Revolution icon and mural paintings were no longer in demand. In 1918 icon painters formed a partnership for painting tableware, but its work was unsuccessful. In 1922 Ivan I. Golikov being in Moscow saw a black papier-mache piece using techniques of icon painting and technology of the Lukutin (Fedoskino) lacquer work. The Crafts Museum supported his venture. After him some Palekh painters began to produce lacquered boxes. New times demanded new themes and subjects, such as reaping, hunting, circle-dancing, matchmaking, and horse-ridding. From the very beginning of miniature art Palekh painters made generous use of folk motives. One of the mainstreams of their art drew upon folk songs, tales by Pushkin, Lermontov, and epics. The range of articles painted in Palekh was very wide including brooches, jars, small boxes, bead-boxes, panels, spectacle-cases, tea-chests, glove boxes, and so on.

Though Palekh miniature art is not 100 years old as a matter of fact there is a way in 400 years. Palekh art today is a result of century-old traditions in new historical conditions based on the knowledge of icon-painting craft of many generations.

Artists use single-hair brushes, real gold and egg tempera. Palekh miniature is signed on the same pattern. An article's face side always bears the mark of the production location (Palekh), date (year), and author's signature.