Tsarskoselskaya Amber Workshop, founded in 1981,is an enterpise combining amber, stone cutting and jewellery crafts. Restoration of amber objects, hard stone, metal, bone and ivory, nacre and wood, making amber icons, diplomatic gifts, hand-made books are not a complete list of activities of the Workshop which is one of the best research restoration centres in the country and in Europe, according to the opinion of many specialists.
A small wing of the Catherine Palace in Tsarskoye Selo houses a workshop in which artistic stone-cutters work. Here, just like a couple of centuries ago, they create with affection, concentration and unhurried care articles from a unique natural material – amber, reviving the venerable traditions of an exalted craft as well as a belief in the exceptional artistic potential of the stone from the Baltic.
In two decades of work on the recreation of the famous Amber Room, the Tsarskoselskaya Amber Workshop became one of the world’s most significant centres for the study, restoration and reconstruction of works made of amber and semiprecious stones. Through many years of research the workshop developed a method that on the one hand allowed the team to come as close as possible to the historical techniques originally used to produce the items being restored or recreated, while on the other ensuring a long future life for them. This approach is unparalleled inside Russia and abroad.
Working within the creative workshop are restoration artists who have earned the highest possible qualifications. They are capable of carrying out the most complex tasks in restoring, recreating and copying the finest examples of amber work and the artistic use of semiprecious stones from centuries past. The skilled hands of these experts have restored a large group of amber items from the collection of the Tsarskoye Selo State Museum Preserve. At the request of the Armoury Chamber in Moscow, the workshop restored silver-trimmed marble tables from the seventeenth century, as well as a nineteenth-century icon inlaid with mother-of-pearl in a wooden case. The St. Isaac’s Cathedral museum collection in St. Petersburg contains nineteenth-century examples of Florentine and Roman mosaics (tabletops, clocks, a plague) restored by our craftsmen.
For the Kaliningrad Museum of Amber, the workshop is carrying out the scientific reconstruction of items from the Königsberg Collection – one of the finest European collections of artistic amber that was lost during the Second World War.
The restoration practices of the Tsarskoye Selo Amber Workshop have attracted the attention of foreign specialists in the field of decorative and applied art. Representatives of the workshop were invited to restore an eighteenth-century casket from the Museum of Amber in Varde, Denmark, an amber altar from Schloss Kopining, Germany, amber archaelogical artefacts kept in the National Museum, Belgrade, Serbia and Urals malachite fireplace set from a private British collection.
The workshop also produces unique original works. These include an eighteenth-century geographic map reproduced in amber and individual elements in the furnishing of a ship’s cabin for the display of the Museum of the World Ocean in Kaliningrad. Among the workshop’s most significant works is a series of seven icons produced using the Florentine mosaic technique and amber to decorate the residence of the President of Russia in the Kremlin, as well as diplomatic gifts for the German Chancellor, the King of Spain, the Patriarch of all the Russians, and other distinguished figures.
The regular products of the workshop differ radically from mass-produced items in the use of an incomparably larger range of techniques for the working of amber and semiprecious stone. The high aesthetic qualities of the items created by the restoration craftsmen can be judged by visitors to the shop that the workshop has recently opened. The team is also engaged in the design of clothing embelished with amber.
The Tsarskoye Selo Amber Workshop actively involves itself in publishing and exhibition work. It has great experience of participating in international exhibitions held in the USA, Germany, Denmark, Japan, Finland and other countries.
The workshop’s many and varied artistic activities are testimony to the immense creative potential of this unique enterprise that has revived the lofty traditions of European stone-cutting art from centuries past.