Russian handicrafts: Kazakovo filigree metalwork

Craftsmen from the village of Kazakovo in Russia's Volga region have been creating amazing filigree metalwork for almost 80 years. Today this distinctive craft is in danger of extinction.

Vintage USSR-style tea cup holders, caskets, cigarette cases, icon frames and even hockey helmets made out of wafer-thin silver-plated wire are what foreign tourists hunt for in souvenir shops when in Moscow. But few of them know how these works of artisan jewelry are born.

230 miles east of Moscow lies a village by the name of Kazakovo (Nizhny Novgorod region), where metalwork has been practised for centuries. Today it is the sole Russian center of filigree plating - one of the most delicate and exquisite forms of jewelry.

“Scissors and pincers are the only tools used by local craftsmen, everything is hand-made,” says Zinaida Kovrigina, an experimental painter at the Kazakovo filigree metalwork factory.  “Here in Kazakovo we like to say we've developed our own distinctive style.”

Unfortunately, the filigree metalwork today is at risk of extinction due to lack of funding. "We need higher salaries to attract young people,” says chief painter Boris Tupichkin. 

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