The masTer of chrisTmas
Amanda Woods steps into the fairy light-adorned world of celebrity christmas tree decorator, Johann Wanner, and leaves filled with festive cheer.
as someone who collects christmas decorations around the world to remind her of her travels i was rather excited to meet this man in his store in Basel. Johann Wanner is The christmas guy. he’s the one movie studios come to when they need to make sure a christmas tree’s decorations for a particular time and place are right, he’s the one Lady Di would come to for her decorations and he’s designed and dressed trees all over the world including the White house, the Vatican and rockefeller center.
When the traditional workshops he used to buy his decorations from started closing down in the 1960s Johann started buying their moulds and making his own ornaments.
stepping into his christmas shop in the heart of Basel’s old Town i was thrilled to not only see his decorations, but to realise the man himself was working in the store. To see the passion in his eyes as he explained how so many of his glass ornaments are mouth-blown using moulds that are up to 200 years old before being silver-lined and painted was a delight.
as much as i adored his delicate glass ornaments i needed something that was more likely to survive weeks of travel in a crowded suitcase, and so i opted for some pretty red and white papier mâché mushrooms. as Johann told me about the way he uses a 140-year-old machine to make the mushroom shapes before they’re painted i knew they’d bring back very special memories when they joined my Travel christmas Tree each year.
Johann’s christmas house is open year round, and from october until february he also has a christmas Parlour shop where visitors can drink tea, coffee and champagne amongst the decorations. Bubbles and baubles? i’ll be back for that one. www.johannwanner.ch