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Vojtěch Kubašta Stained Glass Christmas Card

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Kubašta's daughter, Dagmar Kubastovŕ Vrkljan, shares a beautiful gift from her father's legacy…

 
Gold halos crown the Three Kings in this Crčchemania edition of Vojtěch Kubašta's Stained Glass pop-up card. But the Magi are not offering gold, frankinincense, and myrrh, but an orb, an anchor, and a Flaming Heart. Christian symbols all, representing so much more than artistic license.


 
Roll over the image above with your mouse to see the Crčchemania Free Download English version of Vojtěch Kubašta's Czech original. 
I'm in Dagmar Kubastovŕ Vrkljan's Canadian home, and Kubašta's daughter is sharing with me what she fondly calls, "My dad's legacy."

Dagmar's second-story studio is filled with Kubašta: pop-up books and illustrated fables; pop-up nativities; die-cut Christmas cards; postcards of winter and Easter scenes; and—perhaps Dagmar's most precious of Kubašta's works of art—her father's hand-drawn Christmas cards to her family.

One, dated 1989 in Kubašta's unmistakable script, is a die-cut, pop-up Christmas card and it depicts St. Nicholas Church, its copper dome and clock tower rising above Prague's snowy roofs. When opened, St. Nicholas dome and the rooftops pop up in marvelous 3-D. Above Prague's skyline there are two angels: one blowing a golden horn and ringing a bell, the other singing. And between them, a "Gloria in Excelsis Deo" banner is unfurled, and a golden Star of Bethlehem shines in the night sky.

Another Christmas card, whose cover is decorated with brightly-colored stars, pops open to reveal The Nativity surrounded by the Three Kings and people and children approaching the manger with loaves of bread, dolls, bright packages, and a sleigh.

In the center of this card, there's an eight-pointed star. At right, a snowy cottage and the words, Přejí všichni ze sychrova 03. On the left side, underneath a brightly lit two-story house, are the words, Dokonalou pohodu v Cindy 7.

"My dad is wishing," Dagmar says, "'From Everyone at Sychrov Street, No. 3'—his address, 'Peace and Tranquiltiy to Cindy Street, No. 7,' our former address.

"And look at this!"

 
Dagmar Kubastovŕ Vrkljan not only treasures and generously shares her father legacy with us, but has followed his artistic footsteps—the President of the Sarnia Artists Workshop with her paintings at Art at the Lake, SAW's Annual Show and Sale.
Dagmar is holding another Christmas card, but this is a printed piece, a Gothic-window-shaped die-cut with the Three Kings—in stained glass!

You might wonder why the exclamation point?

Before knocking on Dagmar and her husband Nick's door, I have spent almost four weeks traveling in Upstate New York, then, from Buffalo, followed the contour of Lake Erie towards Toledo and Detroit in search of stained glass windows of the Nativity.

And now, here's a stained glass Kubašta? As Dagmar would say, unbelievable!

"I didn't know I had this," Dagmar says. "I bought it in old antique book store when I was Prague, about four years ago. I saw this card, and suddenly I remembered it, like the day my dad was creating it. And yet, I had no recollection of it until I saw it. It was one of the first designs he was doing for export. Is it in Eglish inside?

"Št’astné prožití svátků vánočnich a veselý Nový rok. No, it's in Czech, and it means, 'Merry Christmas and Happy New Year'".

There's a tiny logo in the back, but I have to put on my glasses to read it: ARS, followed by the number 1529. On the front, The Magi offer their gifits and an angel points to the Star whose rays are partly die-cut to reveal silver foil on the layer below. The halos of the Magi are likewise die cut and shine with silver.

"I love the foil, don't you?" Dagmar says. "When I saw it in the store, I asked the owner if he had anything by Kubašta. He said, 'This just came in.' It still has the price I paid for it—incredibly innexpensive!—Two-hundred crowns, about ten dollars.

Dagmar laughs, and shows me the price, written in pencil, just to the right of a planter brimming with poinsettia, yew, holy, and pine. Golden ornaments hangs form branches, and one is die-cut and shimmers with gold foil beneath.

On the left, there's another planter festooned with a pink ribbon, and a twin candelabra whose die-cut candle flames also flicker with gold. (See images, top of page.)

 
Vojtěch Kubašta at his Prague Mozart Exhibititon. (Dagmar Kubastovŕ Vrkljan Collection.)
"This card brings back my childhood," Dagmar says. "Totally. It also brings back to me that my dad used to do stained glass; that he was designing stained glass windows!

"I remember one of my friends telling me, after visiting a town in Southern Moravia, that he was saw this huge stained glass window in a water treatment plant. When he looked at it more closely, there it was, the name 'Kubašta.' I had no idea my dad had ever done stained glass; but he did.

"When I look at this card, what also comes to mind is that beautiful hotel that Pokorny had, Penzion Sykovec, a couple of hours outside of Prague. My dad designed its beautiful stained glass windows, and when I went there with Nick, we saw and photographed them.

"And, when I go to my cousin's house, there is a door into the living room that has a stained glass window, an original design by my dad. This used to be his father's apartment… You'll have to go to Prague with me, Alexis; we would never stop!

"I wonder if my father, when doing this card, had it in his mind that it could be designed as a stained glass window. And here you are, chasing stained glass windows all over the world! Alexis, just make a list of all these coincidences, and you'll have a book!

"I can't believe when you were shooting in Prague you even got into our apartment building. I loved seeing your photographs [see, In Prague, at Kubašta's door.] Your photos didn't feel like my apartment building—it always seemed very drab. But, after seeing your pictures, I realized that at one point that apartment building must have been very elegant.

"When my dad was moving his young family in—his wife and my older sister, I wasn't born yet—it must have been because Vltavská, Smíchov-Praha 5 must have had a certain elegance. I am sure he noticed all these things; but I hadn't—until you brought them to my attention with our photos. The beautiful frieze, the work of art that is the wrought iron staircase.

"I still hear my dad walking up those stairs, or coming up in the elevator. When I was there last time, it was like suddenly being a kid again. As I walked in, I had such a strange feeling, and I was trying to pinpoint it. It was as though whatever I lived after didn't matter; it didn't happen; it was like being back in that present. Being back again as a child, a young person. Nothing seemed to have changed. I was walking in the street, looking at the mailbox, going up the stairs, walking up to to the door.

"Everything was exactly the same, up to the moment that you suddenly realize, if you ring the doorbell, my dad would not be at the door. And yet, he was there.

"I stood on the stairs, looking at the window that lit our long hallway, and it's funny, but I never realized how beautiful its wrought iron was, and that it actually perfectly matched with the stair railing.

"From the hallway, besides the kitchen and bathroom, there were doors into each of the large three big rooms. My dad had a studio in one of the middle rooms, but eventually he moved into the one looking onto the street. It's his studio window that we see in your photograph, and where we see him sitting in all those pictures.

"I'm so glad you're doing something with the Stained Glass Nativity. It's a lovely, lovely card. I love it. Share it with everyone, with our Best Wishes for Christmas and the New Year."

We're grateful to Dagmar, and delighted to offer you the Vojtěch Kubašta Stained Glass Christmas Card as a Free Download, which you'll find on our Downloads page.

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