12.23.2013

:: Vitbis Christmas Ornaments, Made in Poland

I know I teased you a bit with my Christmas Ornament post last week, so here it is - a factory tour of Christmas bulb manufacturer Vitbis right here in Poland! This is the largest hand-made glass ornament factory in Poland and one of the largest in all of Europe. And because Christmas is in just a few days (or, maybe just because?), get ready for some Vitbis GLITTER!!!
I know this tour kinda resembles the Bolesławiec Polish Pottery factory tour BUT it's different in a few ways: A. We didn't have a guide; B. The tour was free; and C. We were behind a bunch of Polish kids that were on a field trip, which makes everything unique.
Though a different experience from BolesÅ‚awiec, it was still just as enjoyable and worth the hour's drive from Wroclaw. I found a whole new appreciation for the art of Christmas ornament making and was able to buy some bulbs at factory store prices (it's like outlet mall shopping, but better). So let's start shall we?

Here's a look at the entry way into the factory. Bulbs everywhere!
And a glimpse at one of the machines that paint the bulbs solid colors. They then wait until they are dry to move them. Speaking of paint, the paint fumes in this waiting area were strong. Like really, really, really strong. 
I was surprised that after drying, most of these beautiful bulbs are counted and placed in old cardboard boxes - nothing fancy.
Now we begin the 'tour' (aka we were allowed to start walking around the floor). As I mentioned, we did not have a guide explaining the process to us so I will tell you all about it based on what I saw throughout the tour. 

The most interesting thing on the shop floor is this guy below: the glass blower. I honestly stood here and watched him for at least 30 minutes. (That is one benefit of not having a tour guide; you can move at your own pace.)

So he takes these long sticks of glass from the blue box below and heats them up until they bend in the heat. Please don't mind the fellow field trippers in the photos. FYI The Americans in the group with me were shocked that these kids were able to walk around the factory with no protective eyewear and broken glass on the floor. Oh! Americans, always so concerned ;)
P.S. Here is a look at the guys that make the things in the blue box. 
Anyways, back to the glass blower. Once the glass is hot enough, the glass blower peels away the bottom part of the stick (it looks like a glue when he peels it away) and throws it on the floor. It hardens and shatters as it hits the ground.
And he's now left with just the top and center of the stick. And it's put back in the heat.
He then blows the glass little by little. (Blow the glass a little. Place back in the heat. Repeat.)
And here is a look at his finished products.
We then got lost and ended up in the painting room. Not quite sure how we lost a group of 50 kids, but it happened and we did. But OMG this room was UNREAL! Everyone in here is painting freehand. Not one stencil. 
The ladies below are drawing patterns in glue. 
They then use a sifter to apply the glitter. 
A look around the studio proves talent. Usually, these photos are something I would place into a collage but I want to keep these full size so you can see the detail in each of these bulbs. Just unreal.

Ugh. Don't you love 'em!?

Once they're dried, it is back to the box! 
I think below is a wall that shows all of the different designs Vitbis makes. Not sure, but that's my best guess - there were quite a few walls like this scattered around. 
And the last stop on the line (that I was able to see, anyways): these ladies cut the tops off the bulbs (the long stick part).
Oh don't tell me you didn't notice this part of the bulb that is sticking into the nail? Now, do you notice it?
The stems these ladies cut off go in here, which I assume are melted and re-used but I am not 100% sure on that. 
And that concludes the factory portion of our tour. 

Of course, we then move into the store. 
These bins on the floor cost between 1 and 3 PLN each (or, 30 cents to 1 USD)....just call me Oprah, "Everyone is gettin' a bulb this year!" LOUD CHEER! (Well...unless they break in transport. T has already broken like 3 of them. Not kidding.) 
The ones that come in boxes to take home are a bit more expensive (ranging from about 30-100 PLN, or 10 to 33 USD).

But the shop was full of beautiful things. And glitter!
A lovely place to visit, especially during the holiday season. If you find yourself in Poland, looking for something to do, don't forget about the Vitbis factory tour.

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