Every year, 30 to 40 trainees learn at the School of Wooden Toymaking and Woodturning in Seiffen. In the last 10 years, a total of 107 young people have been trained in the toymaker’s craft, which can only be learned in the Ore Mountains. Today, the trainees come from all over Germany. The level has been constant for many years, but there is definitely demand for more trainees: the sector urgently needs skilled workers.

Every facet of Ore Mountain folk art

Marilen Dreier, 18, is one of the trainees learning in Seiffen. “I’ve always been fascinated by wooden miniatures”, explains the young woman, who moved to the Ore Mountains from Celle in Lower Saxony just for her dream job. “Three years ago, my parents brought me a tiny wood-chip tree from the Christmas markets in Dresden. The idea that this was a job you could learn left a lasting impression.” She came across Wendt & Kühn and fell in love with the company’s angels and flower children. Starting out with a job placement, she went on to apply for a traineeship. When she was selected, one of four to be chosen from more than 40 applicants, she was over the moon. 

Julia Heilmann, from Upper Lusatia, took the same path, training as a wooden toy maker after graduating from design college, and completing the practical part of her education at Uwe Blank’s business in Grünhainichen. Uwe is full of praise for the trainees: “We are all about commitment and versatility. Julia has excellent prospects. She is a gifted craftswoman and has a very good feel for creative work with wood.” Julia takes great pleasure in the varied traineeship.  “I’ve already got to known all the company’s departments. I’m currently in the paint section, where I’ve been able to show off my steady hand. I especially enjoy putting together the tiered candle-holders.”

“In the upcoming 2019/2020 training period, a total of 36 apprentices will be trained in three classes, 24 of whom are on a collaborative training course.”
Lehrmeister der Verbundausbildung Reinhard Friedemann

Creative work through collaborative training

On this three-year course, trainees gain a firm footing in the varied foundations of woodworking. That includes manual and mechanical woodworking, carving, woodturning and even painting and decorating. “Where else would you have the chance to create a product independently, from the idea to designing and drawing it, then actually producing it? That calls not only for creativity and skill in the craft, but also for technical skills, for example when putting together the apparatus or developing technologies”, explains Reinhard Friedemann, head of the collaborative training course.

One unique feature is that whether trainees enter the vocation of wooden toymaking via the trade route or the Chamber of Commerce, they learn the same content.  The theoretical and key practical elements of the training are carried out as a collaborative training course by the Association of Ore Mountains Artisans and Toymakers (VEKS e.V.). The trainees gain further practical experience by working in partner companies.