Victorian Christmas Ornaments

Dresden Star Heirloom Ornaments


Victorian Christmas Ornament

 

When you hang a Dresden Star Ornament on your tree this Christmas, you can do so knowing that you have a very unique Victorian Christmas ornament, unlike any other. Dresden Star Ornaments are lovingly hand-crafted from beautiful antique chromolithographs (called scraps), old glass ornaments, and a variety of vintage Christmas decorations, making them truly look like antique Victorian Christmas ornaments.

The idea for Dresden Star Ornaments was born out of Gail and Glenn Giaimo’s love for old Victorian Christmas ornaments. They discovered that many original elaborate and fantastic antique and vintage ornaments were hard to find; often they were found either in poor condition (broken, and/or missing parts), or in someone's personal collection, only available for viewing in books. For years, Gail and Glenn had been collecting bits and pieces of old Christmas tree decorations, vintage glass ornaments, and century-old die-cut papers. Suddenly it occurred to them that they could create their own Victorian Christmas ornaments to hang on their feather trees. Making Victorian Christmas ornaments was so rewarding and fun that it became a home-based business.

 

This elaborate handmade ornament by Dresden Star Ornaments is titled “Circus Clown on Fantasy Clock.” The Victorian Christmas ornament is created with a vintage double-indent ornament with its original Venetian dew glitter, an antique scrap clown's head with a great expression, and an antique scrap clock-face suspended inside indent. It is priced just under $300.00.
 

Dresden Star Ornaments may seem expensive at first glance; until you understand why. A great deal of effort goes into making each ornament unique and beautiful, with no two alike. The one-of-a-kind materials used in these Victorian ornaments make them expensive to create. It is necessary to have a large inventory of vintage and antique materials to choose from; these materials are difficult to find, and some pieces are very expensive and rare. It is Gail and Glenn’s passion to seek out wonderful old decorations and remake them into new amazing creations.

The name, Dresden Star Ornaments, was decided upon because the artists use Dresden trim (pressed foil paper) from Germany to create their exquisite Victorian Christmas ornaments. In addition, Dresden Germany is the city where beautiful and intricate embossed cardboard ornaments were made between 1880 and 1910.

 


Dresden Star Ornaments
vs.
Original Victorian Ornaments

Dresden Star Ornaments are not intended to be reproductions of antique ornaments. The imaginative way Gail and Glenn use the materials makes their ornaments not only very inventive, but elaborate. Vintage and antique materials are incorporated into each ornament, so a Dresden Star Ornament feels like an authentic, old ornament, with personality and attention to detail.

In addition, an owner of a Dresden Star Ornament is guaranteed to have a one-of-a-kind, hand-crafted piece. Each Victorian Christmas ornaments is hand-signed either by Gail or Glenn Giaimo; they are the only artists making the ornaments, thus giving them the control to ensure the very best quality and craftsmanship.

Right: A patriotic theme ornament by Dresden Star Ornaments of a “Drummer Girl” on a large patriotic glass bell. This fabulous ornament, hand signed by artist Glenn Giaimo, has an  early 1900s patriotic glass bell and a glass pike wrapped in antique trims and vintage tinsels. The antique scrap patriotic drummer girl carries an early vintage silk flag.

 

 
Dresden Star Ornaments’ amazing attention to detail is apparent in the stunning Snow Angel ornament shown above. Glenn started with an antique unsilvered single balloon with its original gold paint and long pike intact; then added a fabulous antique scrap snow angel holding a candle. Lavishly trimming the ornament is a vintage Dresden paper medallion (bottom of ornament), antique Dresden paper trim, 2 different early vintage tinsel ribbon trims, 2 different narrow chenille trims, antique beaded ribbon trim, early vintage metallic lace trim, and German-made curly spun-glass. The ornament is hand-signed by Glenn Giaimo.
 

Antique Victorian Ornaments

In the original Victorian ornament, pictured above, note that the glass "boat," while discolored, is still intact. The crinkle-wire around the ornament is damaged, as is often the case. The original chromolithograph ("scrap") and original rope tinsel has stayed with the ornament all these years. Antique Victorian Christmas ornaments like this one, even in this condition, could be quite expensive.

 

Three Victorian Christmas Ornaments by Dresden Star Ornaments

 

The Dresden Star Ornaments, shown above, are constructed from vintage and antique materials. All of the colorful die-cut scraps are Victorian chromolithographs. The glass ornaments used to create the Christmas ship and hot air balloon are from the 1930s or earlier. Scraps, Dresden stars and old rope tinsel were carefully held in place with durable glue. The crinkle-wire wrapped around the balloon and ship is newer, but was antiqued to match the patina of the ornaments. Recently manufactured crinkle-wire is used to wrap the ornaments, as original tinsel wire is often too brittle and tangled to use again. The Dresden Star Ornaments are more vibrant in color, fanciful and elaborate.

 

 

Antique Die-Cut "Scraps” are Used to Make
Dresden Star Ornaments

At left is a sampling of Santas from Gail and Glenn’s scrap collection. Antique angels and Santas are becoming harder to find and are especially expensive.

 

In the Victorian era, scraps were extremely popular, which is why they can still be found today. Many 19th century families made their own tree decorations by combining scraps with other papers, fabric trims, and metallic tinsel garland. To make an ornament, Gail and Glenn generally begin by selecting a piece of scrap from their large collection of beautiful antique die-cut chromolithographs. In many cases, the scrap is the inspiration for what goes into each ornament. The majority of their scraps pre-date 1900; with scraps of every imaginable subject, from flowers and animals to circus characters and babies. The scraps are stunning, nostalgic and whimsical; they are an essential part of what goes into a Dresden Star Ornament.

 

Color chromolithographs were made by a process that printed 20 to 26 colors per design, every tint requiring a separate pass through the press. Heavier paper stock was used and very specialized techniques were employed to produce high-quality embossing. Chromolithographs produced after the 1920s show an increasing decline in quality due to a newer processes and cheaper paper used.

Reproduction scraps are produced today in only four colors and on light-weight paper. The antique chromolithographs have beautiful depth, luster and high-quality that the modern printing techniques of today cannot even begin to achieve. 

Right: “Crying Baby” ornament with a fabric skirt. Home-made paper and fabric ornaments like this were very popular in Victorian times! The scraps were specifically designed for this purpose – crying babies were especially popular! This very collectible antique scrap crying baby has its original scrap feet. Hand signed by Gail Giaimo.

 

Antique and Vintage Glass Ornaments

Only older glass decorations, selected for their beauty and patina, are used to make Dresden Star Ornaments. A wide variety of shapes, sizes and birds are needed to choose from when crafting an ornament. A glass piece that is the right size, shape and color is selected to compliment the old chromolithographs that are attached to it. Oblong shapes work well for dirigibles, round ones for hot air balloons, etc. A glass bird may be in a tinsel cage, or be perched on a "nest" made from an indent ornament turned on its side. After attaching scraps, rope tinsel and embossed gold papers (Dresden trim), the ornaments generally are wire-wrapped with crinkle wire purchased from Germany (Krausboullion), just as you would see on an antique Victorian Ornament. Furthermore, smaller Victorian and antique glass garland beads are wonderful for incorporating with scrap and tinsel ornaments, and look much like the homemade tree decorations made by families over a century ago.

 

 

 

 

Left: A fanciful Victorian girl sits atop a beautiful unsilvered clip-on bird from the early 1900s with a circa 1920s old-stock spun-glass tail and early vintage blue feather. The flowers on the girl’s hat are salvaged from a 1890s bridal wreath. Hand signed by Gail Giaimo.

 

 

 

 

Right is a glass bird on a red-green-and-silver glass bell. Of special note, this vintage glass bird with its original spun-glass tail is combined with early vintage composition holly leaves and berries, two different antique chenille trims, antique hand-knotted lace fringe trim, antique Dresden paper buttons, vintage loop fabric trim, and antique wired tinsel (handle). It is hand signed by Gail Giaimo.  
 


Vintage Tree Decorations and Old Tinsel Add Variety to Dresden Star Ornaments


The picture above shows a sampling of the wide variety of vintage tree decorations used to make Dresden Star Ornaments. Old tinsel garland is especially important for decorating ornaments in different ways. Gail and Glenn select from a wide variety of antique and vintage tinsels in their collection. They also purchase old-style silver-plated Lametta tinsel from Germany and allow it to age naturally, so it has tarnish just like the old-stock tinsel. Having a wonderful collection of old Christmas decorations to choose from allows Dresden Star Ornaments to make ornaments as imaginative and unique as possible.

 

 

Left: A rare large foiled paper star is re-decorated with a stunning hand-cut antique lithograph Victorian Angel to bring new life to this vintage ornament.

 
 


 

Shown above is an ornament of Santa Riding a Patriotic Dirigible. Glen has combined two vintage ornaments for this whimsical design. The unsilvered patriotic ornament with its original tinsel still inside is joined with an early vintage glass indent ornament (as the basket for Santa).

 

Gail has created a wonderful and unique ornament with an early 1900s white cotton batting bell. This fabulous decoration still has its spun cotton clapper. By adding an antique scrap kitty, 3 different early vintage Dresden paper trims, 4 different antique fabric trims, antique silk cording (hanger), antique tinsel, and antique tinsel roping, Gail has succeeded in making a remarkable new keepsake from an old tree decoration.

 

Patriotic ornaments are made from Gail and Glenn’s collection of vintage silk flags, antique Dresden paper star borders, vintage fabric and paper flowers in red-white-blue, antique metallic lace, vintage patriotic ribbon and military theme scraps of generals, presidents and flags. These ornaments are especially valued by the Civil War period collector.

 

 

Gail and Glenn feel that the patriotic ornament shown above of Washington in a hot air balloon is their fanciest ornament yet! It is crafted with a vintage glass sphere ornament, an early vintage indent ornament (tipped on its back to create a basket), a large antique scrap George Washington, early vintage silk flags, antique gold bouillon fringe, a variety of antique fabrics and trims, vintage silk patriotic ribbon, five different vintage Dresden paper trims, vintage Dresden paper stars, early vintage cobalt blue glass bell, antique glass bead, and early vintage tinsel roping. This amazing work of art is hand signed by Glenn Giaimo.

 

Dresden Trims, Papers and Fabrics

Gold embossed die-cut papers, loosely termed "Dresden trims," are used to decorate Dresden Star Ornaments. Much of Gail and Glenn’s collection of trims are old-stock made in Germany. Many of the elaborate borders, birds, stars, anchors, script phrases, and pink medallions shown above are old-stock. Since old-stock Dresden embossed papers are becoming scarce, they also use some newer trims from Germany. The quality of the gold embossed papers bought from Germany is generally very good, as some of the same equipment and techniques are used today as were used in the past.

 

 

Vintage papers, fabrics, and lace trims, and old-stock ribbons and cording are used to embellish candy containers, cornucopias, and the beautiful scraps. As was often done with homemade Victorian ornaments, scraps of women and children are decorated with delicate lace trims, fabrics, and crepe paper. Dresden Star Ornaments have a fabulous selection of vintage materials to choose from to give each ornament its own unique personality.

 

 

The Christmas tree would not be complete without a fabulous tree topper! Gail has succeeded in creating a masterpiece with this rare large glass topper shown above, decorated with their finest trims and ornamented with the most spectacular angels in their collection.  The tree topper is created with a rare early vintage silver free-blown glass topper, vintage mercury glass bells, antique beaded trim, 2 different antique silk ribbons with graduated colors and ruffled edges, pink antique velvet ribbon, antique mercury glass oval beads, 5 different exquisite Dresden paper trims, vintage pink Dresden paper halo, and an antique gold Dresden paper halo. This creation is hand signed by Gail Giaimo.

An original, one-of-a-kind Christmas ornament from Dresden Star Ornaments range in price from $69.95 to over $200. See " Buy From Us" to purchase Dresden Star Ornaments directly from the artists; or if you are a retailer see the " For Dealers Only" page. Visit the Dresden Star Ornaments web site [www.victorianornaments.com] to see their many handmade Christmas ornaments, feather Christmas trees, antique and vintage putz for under the tree, antique and vintage Christmas accessories, antique and vintage tree fences, adjustable brass ornament stands, Santas and more.

 

 

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