Semyonov is a small town about 50 miles north of Nizhny Novgorod. Founded in the late 17th century, the town was originally a settlement for “Old Believer” Orthodox Christians fleeing persecution. Why on earth would you want to visit this obscure town? The answer: the Golden Khokhloma Factory, specializing in selling beautifully hand-carved and painted wooden gifts. Khokhloma is a traditional Russian folk art widely known throughout Russia. The most common colors for the decorative paintings are red, black, and gold; which have been used since the beginning of craft. In order to create khokhloma one first starts with a wooden base. Next it is coated with an aluminum powder and painted with the red and black design. After an elaborate firing and glazing process, the end result is beautiful dishware that looks like the images above. Although famous for their spoons, the khokhloma factory in Semyonov creates anything from toys to furniture, in addition to dishware. The most identifiable of these other goods are the matryoshka dolls. Each piece is hand carved from wood before being sent to another building on the factory territory, where a team of artisans hand paints each one. Though the factory is now generally closed to tourists, the museum of its most impressive and historical works is still open and admission is relatively cheap. Perhaps the biggest draw to the museum is its gift shop, where one can buy a diverse range of khokhloma items directly from the factory at a comparatively low cost.
Semyonov, Golden Khokhloma Factory