Thursday, December 24, 2015

My Khokhloma Collection

My khokhloma collection started because I bought a few pieces I saw in a charity shop, which were very cheap. I think I originally bought them thinking that they'd be good photo props. As time went on, I kept noticing similarly decorated pieces in different charity shops, and I started collecting them when I spotted them. eventually I discovered that this painting style is called khokhloma, and that all these pieces came from Russia. 

Khokhloma originated in the late 17th century, but reached the peak of it's popularity during the Soviet years, when factories were set up to make khokhloma products on a larger scale. They are still popular as souvenirs, and stalls selling khokloma pieces often pop up at Christmas markets in the UK. Khokloma pieces are made from wood, which is primed and then painted with red, gold, and black paints, usually in natural designs like leaves and berries.

The biggest piece of khokhloma I have bought is this bowl, which I got to put yarn in although that hasn't happened yet. It has a really attractive swirling design with abstract leaves and berries, and is a bit more subtle than my other pieces-if something that is mostly metallic gold can be subtle?

I like khokhloma for several reasons, the biggest one being that it looks like something from a fairytale. I can imagine everyone from a fairytale princess to a witch in the forest to a fantasy elf using these kinds of items, and I love that.

My most recent khokhloma purchase was this tube shaped case, which I'm going to keep my crochet hooks in. 

I especially like this piece, because of the simple but strong design, with the large stylised leaves and the bands of bright red around the tube, I think it is very striking.

I'm always drawn to red things or things which use a lot of red in their decoration, which is another reason I like khokhloma. I also like folk art style designs, so the khokhloma style of decoration is exactly my cup of tea.

Speaking of cups, this little cup has a similar design to the tube, with red berries and gold leaves on a black background. I use this as a holder for a battery operated tea light, which looks pretty-the light reflects nicely off all the gold paint. I don't want to risk using actual tea lights or candles in it as it is made from wood after all!

This box is a little different from the rest of my pieces as it has more of a silver metallic finish, rather than the gold of all the others. 

It also has a different design, with swirling flowers and leaves in silver and red. I think it looks more sophisticated than my other pieces, but it still blends into my collection well. I really like the design, and am keeping an eye out for more pieces in this more detailed style.

Another thing I like about khokhloma is how timeless it is. At first glance, it could be anything from modern day Anthropologie style tableware to ancient antiques.

The first pieces I bought were these three spoons, which have very eye catching decoration. My favourite is the cherry design. 

 I also have a longer spoon, which has the typical berry and leaf decoration again. I like how all of my pieces are slightly different, but the similar themes and colours mean they go together well.

Finally I have a pair of salad servers, which also have the leaf and berry motifs in a slightly different style and arrangement. These are so pretty, I think they are one of my favourite pieces. 

Sadly, unless I get a bigger place to live my khokhloma collection can't get much bigger-I'm running out of space to put it! I already have quite a few pieces though, and I'm happy with my little collection. It's big enough to make me feel like a fairy tale princess witch, on those days that the mood takes me.

All of my khokhloma was bought in various charity shops at very low prices, but I have also seen lots of pieces being sold on Ebay and Etsy. 

Hedgefairy has a pretty impressive khokhloma collection which she uses for larp (which, incidentally, is a GREAT IDEA), which can be seen in this post.


  1. I love the leaves and berries design, it's pretty - as soon as the photos popped up on my feed I was drawn to them - it does remind me of something from a fairytale, you're right. The designs are so pretty, very folkloric, and they do look timeless. I love the spoon and the salad servers, they're lovely. - Tasha

    1. I think it's something about the colours, they are very vibrant and eyecatching but also warm and comforting somehow!

  2. I've never seen these before but I like them. The red and gold is so pretty, I do usually prefer silver things so that one with silver draws my eye but the gold is richer and looks the best. Great collection, happy holidays.

    1. I'm usually more of a silver person too, but I think because the gold on these is kind of antique looking I like them more. I'm not a fan of very bright gold.

  3. What a lovely collection! The collection we use for LARP isn't mine, though, it's sort of collective group property. I myself only have a spoon and a cup. I love the idea of putting a LED light in the cup, I think I might adapt that sometime.

  4. This reminds me so much of Norwegian rosemåling painting style.