The openwork figurines of the Kasli plant amaze with their filigree work and precision of details. Considering them is akin to meditation. Here is a boy with a fishing rod, his lips pressed together and his brow furrowed as he tries to bait an invisible line. A small figure, but you can see the marigolds on the child’s fingers, every detail and fold of his clothes, a button on a beret, grass blades under his bare feet As if a boy is about to come to life, finish his job and gallop off to catch carp.
The word “casting” is misleading here it seems that they are not talking about works of art at all, but about something average, stamping or something But not if the conversation is about masterpieces from Kasli.
What is Kasli casting
Graceful sculptures, architectural works and even household items, which the language does not dare to call plates, candlesticks, chandeliers and vases, are made of cast iron and covered with a special matte black composition. The homeland of the craft is the city of Kasli (Chelyabinsk region).
The exclusive place where these fabulous pieces are produced is the Kasli plant for architectural and artistic casting.
And the world fame for the products of the manufactory was brought by the skill of its artists, who managed to turn rough and unattractive cast iron into magical masterpieces.
It is worth saying a few words about the history of the fishing industry. It originated in the middle of the 17th century, when the industrial revolution began in the Urals, which is rich in natural resources. The region from underdeveloped began to turn into the mining center of the Russian Empire. Verkhnetagilskiy, Alapyevskiy and more than six dozen metallurgical enterprises, of which only a little more than a third were state-owned, appeared in the Urals in the period from the beginning to the middle of the 18th century.
Most were owned by private individuals. Among the latter is an iron factory in the village of Kasli, built on lands rich in special molding sand and ore, which the merchant Korobkov bought for one and a half rubles.
Later, the plant passed into the hands of a representative of the famous Demidov dynasty, to which Russia owes much of its greatness. By the way, the manufactory, whose products were already well known and loved throughout Europe, cost N.N. Demidov is already 10,500 rubles. Billions today.
Nikita Nikitich Demidov
It was Nikita Nikitich Demidov who completed the construction of the plant and modernized it. The Demidov dynasty owned the enterprise for a long time, until in 1809 it passed to another representative of the merchant class, Rastorguev, an enterprising man with a visionary gift. It was under him and his descendants that the manufactory experienced a true Golden Age. At first, the plant produced mostly household items irons, large and small boilers with cauldrons.
But in 1823 a new manager, Grigory Zotov, was appointed to the plant. From his submission, Kasli casting began as a unique artistic craft. It was Zotov from Germany who brought to the manufactory the technology of casting in molds, which our craftsmen, according to tradition, have improved and adapted to their needs.
Kasli casting style and technology
Initially, Germanic models were used, but then their own, unique style appeared, which finally took shape in the 70s of the 19th century. Its characteristic features: clear, graphically accurate lines, elaboration of details, impeccable transfer of textures and corporate matte black color. Talented artists, embossers and molders were invited to the enterprise, graduates of the leading Russian fine academies worked here, and their own art school was opened. All this brought results.
The products of the plant received the most prestigious Russian and international awards, became the pride of private collections. Since 1896, the plant obtained permission to use the imperial symbol the two-headed eagle in its brand. This was the highest recognition of services to the Fatherland.
And in 1900 the cast-iron pavilion, created by Kasli craftsmen according to the project of E. Baumgarten, received the Grand Prix at the World Exhibition in Paris. This is a truly masterpiece exhibit that has eclipsed even the Eiffel Tower. Inside were shelves covered in velvet and lined with cabinet utensils.
French President Loubaud
By the way, an interesting story is connected with one of its copies. French President Loubaud, who visited the exhibition, decided to buy the pavilion for absolutely crazy money at that time 2 million rubles. Having received a refusal, he doubted the quality of the cast iron plate, suggesting that on impact it would certainly break. Imagine his surprise when the master threw this plate on the ground, and it only rolled to the side intact. The Frenchman added the price, but the deal did not happen.
Today this pavilion, or rather its exact copy, made by Kasli casters, is exhibited in the Yekaterinburg Museum. It is also recognized by UNESCO as the only cast-iron architectural structure in the world that is part of the museum collection.
The present day of the manufactory As before today, the plant produces not only small art objects and souvenirs, but also large-sized forms lanterns, monuments, park structures (benches and urns), garden wrought-iron furniture and even fireplaces. The latter are the most complex products in terms of decor and design: labor-intensive ornaments, onlays, “lace” portal, holders for stoker and tongs, screens.
Having survived the 90s with some difficulty, the craft is on the rise today, and the company’s products, made according to the original technology using manual processing, are still popular and loved by many connoisseurs of cast iron magic from Kasli.