Small scale but perfect. A lot of care and love goes in to making good quality products
that will last and last. For the past 80 years this principle has underlined the artistry and
workmanship at Christian Ulbricht GmbH & Co. KG.
Christian Ulbricht – Arts and Crafts from the Erzgebirge since 1928
From Mining to Wooden Art
For millennia the Erzgebirge (Ore Mountains) lay dormant. Only few people settled in the river valleys of the "dark forest", until a new era began when silver ore was first discovered in 1163. In the course of the 15th century the Erzgebirge reached their prime and developed into a major mining area. All Ulbricht ancestors were miners - but in the 17th century however, the ore supplies started to dwindle those living and working there had to come up with new sources of income. Many of them turned to crafts such as lace-making and wood-carving. Soon, toy-making become a popular profession and also a rapidly growing business – with ample supplies of wood from the vast forests of the Erzgebirge at hand. In 1928 the time had finally come - Otto Ulbricht founded the company.
Establishing "Otto Ulbricht-Werkstätten für feine Holzarbeiten und Spielwaren“
"Otto Ulbricht-Werkstätten für feine Holzarbeiten und Spielwaren“ (which translated would be the "Otto Ulbricht workshops for fine woodcraft and toys") was established in the small town Seiffen. Otto Ulbricht’s success was built on entrepreneurial skills and a remarkable inventiveness. At the height of his career, he was awarded at the 1936 World Exhibition in Paris a gold medal for his children’s room clock designs, and a group of travelling singers (Kurrende Choir).
With World War II and the following dispossession by Communist forces came the end of the company in Seiffen. Otto Ulbricht and his family were forced to flee to former West Germany. In Lauingen on the Danube river he re-established his Company, and eventually handed over the management to his son Christian Ulbricht in 1968. After Germany was reunited, Christian Ulbricht bought back his father‘s company in Seiffen.
Art of Craftsmanship
An Ulbricht nutcracker begins as a simple plank of lumber. The most important tool, a carefully selected top quality wood, is thoroughly kiln dried and stored in ideal conditions for the wooden product.
Wood turning on the lathe can be traced back to the miners of Seiffen for whom this was a hobby centuries ago. Each craftsman uses a variety of knives for each desired cut into the wood.
Woodworking is an Ulbricht family tradition. The traditions of colors used, and techniques of application, have been handed down for over 300 years from generation to generation, but because each piece is hand painted there are no two exactly alike!
Producing precision-made parts requires concentration and skill. Even now the founder of the company can often be found at his workbench developing new products and designs.
The skill of the painters requires accuracy and precision and is something that takes years of practice and experience. This careful attention to detail results in the charm of a finished piece.
The technical world we live in means that genuine handicraft is something rare and many of the steps involved are still painstakingly hand done. This in itself makes the Christian Ulbricht creations both valuable and irreplaceable.