The history of Zhostovo Decorative Art dates back to 1825, when the Vishnyakov brothers – former peasants, who bought themselves out of serfdom – opened a workshop in Zhostovo village. The brothers’ genius was to combine the craft of making metal trays, common in the Urals region, with the art of making lacquered miniatures, for which the nearby village of Fedoskino was known. The Russian tradition of tea drinking has provided a solid demand for these colourful trays right up until the present day. Today, the factory employs around 80 artisans.
Over the factory’s long history, its craftsmen have created more than 150 different shapes of Zhostovo tray. Some of the shapes are still made only by hand – cold-hammered from metal sheets – while others require modern equipment. The signature pattern is an exuberant flower bouquet, but fruit motifs and landscapes are also popular. They are traditionally painted in oils with squirrel brushes, using vibrant colours against a black, red, green or blue background. The edges of the trays are decorated with intricate floral designs, and the lacquer is made with a special palm resin. It takes around 14 days to create a single tray.