Once Upon a Time...
It was a beautiful fall day. Sun rays were shining through leaves on our big maple tree that was changing its colors from green to yellow, red and brown. I was drinking my morning coffee and reading some online articles in our Czech newspaper. One of them really touched me deeply. It was about a lady that lost her arms but never gave up. With only three fingers, she was able to make beautiful art. She created little ornaments from tiny glass beads, she crocheted animals from the size of a matchbox to the size of a pillow. She also painted. With coffee. Yes, with COFFEE. She found this technique by accident. When she learned how to be independent after her injury, she spilled her coffee on a white table cloth and it created an interesting shape. It looked like a butterfly. She dipped her finger in rest of her coffee and continued... When she found out what she and coffee can do, she started to paint.
What a brave lady! Most of the other people would sit in a corner and cry about their destiny. But not her. She inspired me so much that I started to do some research and I tried my first painting with coffee instead of classic paints. I didn't take the easiest way - I started to paint on wood. I bought a wooden tray in Michael's and painted a country scene on it. It took me a couple of days to finish my work but it looked very interesting. The most problematic part is that if some stroke goes wrong, there is no way to fix it. It works as a stain. Once it's done, it's done. No change or fixing is possible. Coffee is soaked too deep in wood. It was a challenge but I liked it. I've felt encouraged enough so I bought some wooden boxes and tried on them. The result wasn't bad so I went for more and more. As I got the abilities from God, I wanted to use them.
I had many difficulties with varnishing. First, when I used a brush, the varnish made many little bubbles on top of the wooden plaque. I had to sand it and brush it again and again. So I bought a spray. With my English as a second language, I overlooked a sign on the can. I made a horrible mistake and bought a water based varnish. I sprayed it over my picture and... Holly Molly!!! My painting leaked all over the plaque and my painting disappeared. All work gone. I have to admit that I cried but I didn't give up and re-did my picture.
I posted my painting on Facebook and pretty soon I got many positive but also some negative reaction. "What an art? Painting dogs on a wooden plaque? It's a kitsch"! Well, that was like a punch to my face... That person didn't have any idea how much work and time was involved but it was true that it wasn't an art but a commercial souvenir making and I didn't want to do "an expensive hand painting" on cheap wooden boxes.
So I decided to try painting on canvas. Another headache... Coffee worked absolutely in a different way! I had to make my own mixture to make a paint that will stay on canvas otherwise it works like water colors on wax paper. It was a method of experiments and mistakes. I tried a few ways to make my paint thicker so it didn't leak. I used some glue and starch to make my own mixture and then I had to figure it out, how to make the paint stable so it doesn't brush off after drying. Many hours and a lot of coffee... But here it is!
It doesn't mean that I am not going to paint on wooden plaques as I found it very challenging and interesting. I will continue to do what you want me to do for you. Same as I did the picture of pets for my friends.
I can also paint your puppies or any other animal when you send me their photo pictures.
As you see, you can get anything that you wish for. So do not hesitate, contact me via e-mail if you want something very special for yourself or for your loved ones. While you will be drinking your coffee, I will do my best to make you satisfied.
Throughout the history of Bohemian Gingerbread, gingerbread pieces have been popularly used as a fabulous decoration throughout many seasons and holidays, but especially during Christmas. Since this season is well upon us, there is no better time to see what kind of Gingerbread decor you can use to embellish and emphasize the beautiful snowy days. It's time for all of your festivities to be illuminated throughout exquisite gingerbread pieces. There is nothing better than taking to the classic ways of such an incredible and important holiday. That's also not to mention that gingerbread Christmas decor will last for plenty of years, without deteriorating or noticeable changes. It's a fabulous and frugal way to decorate for the season, that will also bring plenty more to the appearance of your home.
Decorate The Tree
With the various kinds of ornaments available, it is easy to forget what the traditional Christmas tree once was. However, adding AKK Unique Gifts gingerbread Christmas decor to your tree will immediately spark that classic appearance right back into the festivities of your home. You can add gingerbread stars to your tree that will illuminate the sparkle and shine provided from the lights, and you can hang all different sizes and shapes, such as snowmen, bells and snowflakes into your Christmas decor on your tree as well. The options are endless, and your tree will be personalized with your choices of gingerbread ornaments.
Add Festivities To Your Tables
Not only can gingerbread Christmas decor be hung around your home and on your tree, but it can also be placed on tables, shelves and ledges. Every nook and cranny of your home can be filled with the original, yet traditional appearance of Christmas. Wreaths with gingerbread can be placed in your home entrance, snowmen can line the chimney mantel and other Christmas motif, such as bells and slippers can be placed in various places around your home.
Winterize Your Windows
One of the most traditional uses of gingerbread throughout the Christmas season was to decorate the windows. Gingerbread stars, rocking horses, trees and plenty of others are the perfect accent to add some winter and snowy inspiration to your window sills. The white icing on the gingerbread adds a frosted appearance to your window Christmas decor. In addition, other accents such as silver balls, red ribbon and snowflakes can be added into your gingerbread decor to emphasize so many more elements of the snow filled season.
Despite what the modern days may illuminate, the Christmas season is not only about presents and Santa Claus. In fact, Christmas is all about the history that this holiday comes from, and utilizing gingerbread decorations only emphasizes the concept of what the special days ahead of us truly means. Gingerbread Christmas decor comes in a wide variety of shapes, sizes and themes which makes it perfect to use when decorating your entire household. You can have bells and angels, snowflakes and stars, sledge and snowmen, center pieces and candle holders and anything else that you could possibly dream of, to fill your home with some festival elements. So please your eyes and heart and add some beautiful smell of honey and spices to your home, frosting and flakes to your Christmas decor with the traditional use of gingerbread.
You will be surprised to know how extensive and important the history of Bohemian Gingerbread goes. Of course, being the only company in the US who creates and sells the traditional gift giving idea, AKK Unique Gifts has plenty of knowledge of share with you. The collection at AKK Unique Gifts is full of exquisite gingerbread treats that will serve as the perfect gift, home decor, holiday decoration or anything that you want to look deliciously divine.
The Original Gingerbread Cookie Recipe
The original gingerbread cookie recipe was known as “pepernik” in the archival Czech language and is still even referred to as “pernik” in short. This term came from the use of black pepper in the dough which gave the gingerbread that delicious spicy taste that this cookie has. The original gingerbread cookie recipe also included honey, flour and spices such as ginger, coriander, cinnamon, clove, cardamom, all spice and nutmeg which resulted in a fabulous, tasty and famous cookie creation. Pepernik (Gingerbread) was also used to cure digestion problems, and the unique attributes of this cookie doesn’t end there though. The dough must stay in a cold place for a few days for fermentation. Yes, this cookie dough ferments. Once it has been baked, the cookies must sit for another week to ensure that the icing and decorations stick. Since gingerbread was developed to stay non-perishable centuries ago due to exporting it across many countries, it can sit for long periods of time without deteriorating or changing. Gingerbread stays hard, dry and is preserved by the variety of spices used.
How Gingerbread Man Entered the World
Gingerbread has a very old origin. Cookies from honey and flour have been known in Egypt, antic Greek and Roma. However, it was Armenian monk Gregory of Nicopolis who brought gingerbread to Europe in 992. He left Nicopolis Pompeii to live in Bondaroy (France), where he stayed for 7 years, and took the gingerbread cooking to French priests and Christians. He later died in 999 but his gingerbread desires lived on well into today, and throughout the collection at AKK Unique Gifts.
During the 13th century, German immigrants then brought the gingerbread cooking recipe to Sweden, and early references from the Vadstena Abbey show how the Swedish nuns baked gingerbread to ease indigestion in 1444. It was also custom in this area to bake white biscuits to paint them as window decorations and AKK Unique Gifts has plenty of window gingerbread decorations that have been inspired from this era.
The first written note about gingerbread in Bohemia (now Czech Republic, part of former Czechoslovakia) is from 1335. However, according to written documents, the masters of gingerbread established their business in Prague prior to this, in 1324. There is no mention of a master of gingerbread being registered as a newly accepted citizen during the years of 1324 – 1393. However, in years 1344 – 1353 some master of gingerbread guaranteed another baker as a newly accepted neighbour, which means that the master of gingerbread must have already been a legitimate citizen of the old town before 1324. So despite no written document, gingerbread was established in Prague in 1324.
With no documents of the appearance of gingerbread back in those times, no one truly knows what it looked like. It is assumed that at the beginning, gingerbread was made by free hand and only carved boards were used to create the shape of the biscuit and the motif on it. Forms from 16th century have religious motifs. The list of gingerbread forms owned by gingerbread master Sebastian Petrasek from Prague is from 1641. It shows that religious forms were used in the 16th century and earthly motifs were added in the 17th century.
As of the 17th century, progress was brought to the gingerbread trade. A production of gingerbread grew so much that it wasn’t a luxury anymore and most of people could afford it. Production of gingerbread continued to grow incredibly, well into the first half of the 19th century. The recipe was brought to perfection in a Bohemian city named Pardubice nearing the end of the century, when icing was finally brought into the gingerbread industry.
As of the beginning of the 20th century, cake and pastry bakeries took the market over as they began to offer a bigger assortment due to a mass production of sugar because of the easier and quicker production options. Gingerbread shops were slowly changing into cake and pastry shops that ultimately lead to gingerbread production completely disappearing, aside from people still making it in their homes for the holiday season. Today, new gingerbread masters have been trying to renew this tradition and bring it back to life. Czech gingerbread masters from Vsetin also made amazing gingerbread gifts for the Prince of United Kingdom William and his wife Kate for their wedding, and also made some for the birth of their new baby, little Prince George.
The Gift Giving and Décor of Gingerbread
Across the seas in America, the majority of people aren’t sure as to what can be done with gingerbread. Although Bohemian Gingerbread is a delicious cookie that can be enjoyed as a treat, the main purpose of them is to bring beauty to your home. Areas such as Czech Republic, Germany and Austria use gingerbread mainly for decoration purposes. Some say that Bohemian Gingerbread is too pretty to eat, but it is an incredible alternative of greeting cards with little notes “I love you”, “I miss you” or “Thank you” on gingerbread hearts and “Merry Christmas” on Holiday motifs like bells, angels or snowflakes. In addition, notes such as “Happy Birthday”, “Happy anniversary” or the name of the baby with the date of the birthday can also be used on gingerbread. Due to the tradition that a groom and bride must thank their partner’s parents, heart shaped gingerbread is an elegant way of doing so. Small hearts are very popular throughout wedding decor or wedding favors, and gingerbread can also be used as wedding cake toppers in the shape of letters (initials of bride and groom), numbers, hearts, slippers, swans and rings, and can also be used as centre pieces, candle holders and boxes in various shapes such as, hearts, rectangles and octagons. In addition, those can all be filled with more gingerbread pieces such as hearts, birds, butterflies, stars etc.
As mentioned previously, gingerbread has always been popular during the holiday season and can make an incredible Christmas tree decoration. Back in the past, people from villages made their own decorations as they didn’t have money to buy glass balls and bells that are often used today. Therefore, they baked and decorated gingerbread stars, rocking horses, bells, birds or all kinds of other shapes for them to be hung on the trees, in their windows or on their walls. As the holiday days were coming to an end, the gingerbread pieces would slowly disappear as children often ate them. When the Easter season rolled around, gingerbread eggs were made, and come Mother’s Day, big hearts were baked, decorated and given to love ones or set on a table as a decoration. Boys would often use large gingerbread hearts to show the love that they have for their girlfriends.
Since the dough of gingerbread is non-perishable, it can last for decades. A customer from Germany mentioned that her great-grandmother had a gingerbread wedding cake topper that was passed down to her. This customer’ great-grandmother just celebrated her own 75th wedding anniversary, which is an excellent example of how long gingerbread can last for.
Traditional Bohemian gingerbread with a lacy pattern is unique and this kind of art cannot be found anywhere else. The decoration is very artistic and intricate so it makes a great gift for any occasion. AKK emphasises this unique piece of incredible decor. Although Bohemian Gingerbread was only served in the richest neighborhoods and to the richest people, and was seen as something very special in the 15th century, this has thankfully changed. AKK Unique Gifts offers endless masterpieces of Gingerbread decor for you to enjoy, and at an affordable price.
With the endless options available to you at AKK Unique Gifts, the incredible, hand made creations can provide you with the opportunity to give a gift that is original and thoughtful. Gingerbread gift ideas can be given to loved ones, such as family, friends, or even as a more informal gift for people such as co-workers and even an acquaintance. So, let's explore the variety of shapes, sizes and themes of AKK Unique Gifts that are readily available for you to gift to someone you appreciate.
Gift Ideas for Love
Love is in the air, and heart shaped gingerbread decorations can be used for all kinds of gift ideas. Traditionally, boys would purchase large gingerbread hearts to give to their girlfriend's and to confess their love for them. This old way of gift giving can certainly be the most incredible way to show your appreciation and armor for someone special in your life... Especially when they know the concept and meaning behind it. Anniversaries, Valentine's Day and even Mother's Day are popular holidays that are perfect times to give this gift idea of love. There’s nothing that illuminates love the way a heart does, and AKK Unique Gifts has plenty of heart variations, so you can find one that fits the emotional perfectly for your situation.
Gift Ideas for Holidays
The calendar year is full of holidays which gives you plenty of need for gift ideas. Now, it can be hard to find the perfect gift for someone... And when you have to do it several times a year, it can be stressful. Well, say goodbye to the stress because there are a variety of holiday inspired gingerbread decorations at AKK Unique Gifts that can be given for all kind of themes. You can never have too many decorations, whether it's a gingerbread Easter eggs or a gingerbread snowflake. That's also not to mention that gingerbread decorations last for years without ever deteriorating, breaking or fading. So with the holiday season fast approaching, it’s time for you to catch a gingerbread snowflake delightfully lined with frosting.
Gift Ideas With Personalization
This gift giving idea category works flawlessly for all events, weddings, holidays, relationships and much more. Giving just any ordinary gift is never fun, and that’s why AKK Unique Gifts brings the tradition of gingerbread gift ideas back into the United States. With an extra dose of personalization, the gift will absolutely leave the recipient's jaw dropped. If you are celebrating an anniversary with a heart shaped gingerbread decoration, you can have the frosting emphasize the special date. If you are celebrating the birth of a new baby, you can choose accents, such as pink or blue frosting to match the event personally. Names, numbers, colors and words are some of the excellent additions that can be implemented into gingerbread pieces for all of your gift ideas.
The most vital part of gift giving is to find something that is appropriate, appreciated and original. A gift is about giving someone something to show just how much you care for them. Something that can be picked right up off of the shelf of a local department store doesn't necessarily present the message and sincerity that you are hoping to provide. Gingerbread items are creative, personable and will, eventually, last a lifetime while also providing endless memories and exquisite décor. You can certainly find the exact piece that will emphasize the relationship that you have with each and every person on your gift giving list at AKK Unique Gifts.