Now goes the story about one folk craft that would die if a small group of enthusiasts don’t sustain it.
Konstantin and Elena Kekhaidi have been producing Filimonov clay toys for 30 years. They say the craft is 700 years old and the first master was a fugitive convict Filimon. It’s him who taught people to make toys from clay, and after him a village in the Tula region was called – Filimonovo.
In fact it was not that romantic. These places do not have fertile soil but have a lot of bluish clay. So people study pottery. Women made clay toys. Men – pots.
The craft went down after the revolution: selling toys was equal to speculation, people were put into prisons for that. 30 years ago there were only few babushkas who could make toys from clay. Then a small group of people decided to continue the work.
By now Filimonov toy moved to Odoev where some families produce it. In Filimonovo people get even surprised when told that Filimonov toy used to be made there.
Elena is modelling workpieces of toys from clay. Konstantin paints burned toys.
They still extract clay in Filimonovo and Odoev. It’s the future lady with roosters.
Toys are burnt in an electric kiln.
Painting with aniline colors: yellow, crimson and green. More seldom: violet and blue.
Painting depends on imagination. Main details are zigzags, herring-bone patterns, the sun, berries…
Faces are either not paited at all or don’t have many details. In ancient time people were afraid of an evil eye.
Main characters – ladies, riders, soldiers, animals. Each toy is a pennywhistle, by the way.
All steps of production
Other clay things masters make
Some toys from a local museum
The craftsmen work in the school of arts where they teach kids. Many children have nice results. Let us hope that it will contribute to preservation of Russian culture the most people don’t care much about.