Russian wooden Santas for everyone - from small, hand crafted wood Santa ornaments, nesting dolls and roly poly Russian Bells to 30 inch masterpiece carvings, each Santa is carved from solid wood and painted in stunning detail with rich designs and beautiful scenes. These wonderful Santa Claus figures are created by uniquely talented Russian artists, trained and educated in some of the finest art schools in the world. Solid wood is the dynamic canvas for these artists and each hand crafted and painted Santa Claus is a one of a kind piece of art.
Ded Moroz is a Slavic fictional character with a literal translation meaning ‘Old Man Frost’, sometimes translated as ‘Grandfather Frost’ or even just ‘Father Frost’. Ded Moroz brings presents to children on New Yea’s Eve, much like our traditional Santa Claus does on Christmas Eve.
In the world of art and collectibles these figures are commonly referred to as ‘Russian Santas’. So what makes these Russian Santa figures so desired and collectible? Being very unique to the collectibles industry these Russian Santas are all carved out of solid wood and hand painted, making each figure essentially an original piece of art. This contrasts to the mass produced mold-cast resin figures and figurines manufactured in (typically) Asia.
The magnificent painting of Russian Santas is unique to each artist and traditionally portrays scenes from winter holiday seasons and characters of Russian folklore. It's very common to see carvings of Russian Santas and Father frost figures painted in scenes with characters such as the beautiful Snow maiden(Snegurochka, his granddaughter), angels, children, wild-life, or a traditional Troika (three horses pulling the sleigh) in a winter scene. Russian Santas are also painted in intricate floral and artistic designs with raised gold leaf, wood burning detailing techniques and various embellishments without scenes at all. It all depends upon the individual artist’s style and specialty, and Russian artists are of the most talented in the world.
Traditionally, Russian Santas were all hand-carved from a solid piece of wood (lime or linden) and hand-painted by select artists from all over Russia. Modern technologies have made it possible to duplicate carvings by machine, or at least produce ‘rough outs’ - so, many of the more generic Santa designs are technically not completely hand-carved though they still require manually finishing the carving after the duplication process. Most of the more elaborate and unique Russian Santas are still hand carved by master carvers. Only a wood carver can truly appreciate the talent and skill required to literally sculpt a solid a block of wood using only hand tools, knives, gouges and chisels into an artistic figure. No matter how simple or complex the carving is, it is the painter, referred to as the ‘artist’ that makes the wood come alive.
Sometimes more than one artist is involved in a Russian Santa Claus creation. Almost always the person who carves the Santa is not the person who paints it. Typically the artist (individual who actually signs the Santa) is a painter who works with, and purchases a blank carving from a woodcarver - or goes to a market to purchase a blank carving. The wood used is from the Linden tree (lime) and is carefully selected and dried for at least two years. The artist then takes the carving home or to their studio to create their masterpiece with paint. Even then sometimes more than one painter is involved as there are artists with special talents to create faces, eyes, animals, or other subjects.
With the United States and Europe now being the largest collectors of Russian Santas, their styling has evolved over the years. Along with the traditional Russian scenes and folklore we now have carved Santa figures with beautiful scenes of the American version of Santa Claus and our own holiday traditions painted on the carvings as well. Another noticeable difference is the use of lacquer being phased out. The far majority of Santa figures now have a protective matte or satin finish to them rather than the traditional glossy lacquer.
Hand crafted Russian Santas are a piece of art, so when looking at these beautiful carvings take note of the unique detail throughout, especially the faces, animals, shading, design detail, palette, and of course the eyes. Keep in mind you're purchasing an artist's work and paying for their relative talents. There are apprentices as well as artists considered to be masters of their style and technique, and a lot of artists somewhere in the middle.