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Flade workshop

Ore Mountains

It’s tempting to cup one’s hands around these beautiful figurines, but take care – Kathrinchen Zimtstern, the Strawberry Fairy and their many brothers and sisters are tiny, measuring no more than four centimetres tall. They have been carved, glued and painted by hand in minute detail. All have flaxen hair: blonde plaits, tousled curls, pinned in bunches or flowing loose in ringlets, like Cinderella.

How the hairstyles are created is known only to the Flade workshop in Olbernhau, in the Erzgebirge mountains. There is, however, nothing secret about the dedication and passion that Kerstin Flade-Drechsel, the managing director and creative force behind the figures, puts into her work. Flade-Drechsel, who is a native of the Erzgebirge region, originally studied museology but was forced to rethink her career options following the changes brought about by German reunification.

The direction she took was heavily influenced by her family history. Her father, Dr Helmut Flade, was an internationally recognised designer and art historian, with a background in wood turning. Kerstin Flade-Drechsel had also learnt to craft wood before she began her studies. They decided to seize the opportunity and set up their own company, which now employs 12 people.

More than 80 angels, 100 flaxen-haired children and countless other little treasures have been added to the family over the past 25 years. The miniature figures are reminiscent of the works of Dresden painter Ludwig Richter, who knew how to depict the Saxon mentality better than anyone. The figures appear to have sprung straight from his sketchpad.

A treasure chest of poetry

Kerstin Flade-Drechsel is certainly not short of ideas or imagination. Each of her figures has its own special story to tell. There are two girls going on a journey, sparked by memories from her own childhood, and a group of flower fairies inspired by an English children’s book. The figures appeal not only to enthusiasts and collectors, but also capture the heart of everyone who encounters them. They are romantic, beautiful objects rendered in delicate pastel tones – innocent and wide-eyed, with tiny round mouths. Placed in seasonal scenes or rotating on top of music boxes, they create a magical world, a treasure chest of poetry. In a time of discord and conflict, hardly anyone can resist the charm of these tiny figures.