Back to the craft page

Metal art. Mstera jewelry

Icon painting, which had brought fame to Mstera by the middle of the 18th century, gave impetus to the development of metal art. Mstera craftsmen began to decorate icons with copper and silver casings using the technique of stamping and engraving.

The main tool of a stamper was a stamp – a metal rod with a rectangular polished and hardened work surface, which could be narrow and sharp. Precise contours and relief were stamped on the metal with the help of this instrument. Where the elements of the drawing were replicated a master used a special puncheon, the working surface of which contained a drawing (dot, asterisk, leaf of a plant, etc.). The relief pattern was imprinted by means of the blow of a hammer on the puncheon. In fact, a puncheon is a small stamp for which a press is not needed. 

Icons with hammered casings sold well, the demand for them increased. In the workshops for the production of casings for icons manual hammering was replaced by mechanical stamping. But, of course, it could not completely supplant manual hammering, since expensive presses which only small factories could afford were required for the manufacture of stamps themselves. 

In 1908, the manufacturer V.S. Krestyaninov founded a copper rolling factory in Mstera that produced foil, brass dishes and some metal tools. In the Soviet times, a jewelry artel was created on its basis which, in particular, was engaged in the restoration of antique products for museum collections. At that time the masters began to use the technique of filigree. This meticulous handwork required patience and accuracy in creating patterns from individual parts of twisted copper or silver wire. For decades, the Mstera style has been developed in the execution of filigree products: a delicate floral and geometric ornament where each detail imitates and emphasizes the shape of the product. In the early 1960s, the artel was transformed into the factory "Jeweler", and ten years later – into the plant of art products "Jeweler". 

At present, the plant "Mstera Jeweler" is considered to be one of the largest Russian folk arts and crafts enterprises with rich traditions of metal art craft. Its assortment is very diverse – silverware, filigree utensils (openwork salt shakers, vases, wine and coffee sets, cup holders, etc.), icons with filigree and enamel casings, silver jewelry, etc. For decorating the Mstera jewelry plant’s products silver plating and gilding are necessarily used, followed by polishing or matting of the metal surface. In addition, hand engraving, filigree, enamel and even lacquer miniature painting elements are used in the artistic decoration of products. 

Author: V. Korolkova