In this week’s bumper, double issue of The People’s Friend, there’s an article about my visit to Europe’s biggest tinsel-making factory: Festive Productions, near Cwmbran, Wales.
They’re a fantastic bunch of people there, and we had a laugh as they showed me round the factory. Cheryl Roach is the Production Manager, and she gave me the guided tour. Here are a few photos that didn’t make it into the published piece.
This is Cheryl sat at her desk. Nearby is a sign that some of her colleagues gave her.
I think that says it all! From her desk, Cheryl has a great view of the factory floor. They make tinsel here for most of the year. In fact, the only time when they’re not making tinsel is in December. But that doesn’t mean they’re not thinking about tinsel! In fact, they’re busy making preparations for the big Christmas shows that retailers visit in January and February.
Cheryl showed me how tinsel is made, and it looks like a giant candy gloss machine. Wire goes in one end – a strip of coloured PVC goes in the other, and then centrifugal force brings the two together to produce a string of tinsel!
Once the tinsel has been taken out of the machine, it is wrapped around a giant wheel-like device, where a worker then snips through the tinsel at opposite corners, and – hey presto! Tinsel cut into 2-metre lengths. (There’s a bigger wheel for 3-metre lengths.)
Of course, making tinsel is not just about strips of shiny, feathery fronds. It’s getting artistic now, with festive shapes cut into the PVC and entwined within the tinsel too. Christmas star, anyone?
As you can probably tell, they use a lot of PVC at Festive. (It’s non-combustable, so it’s a safe material for tinsel … don’t assume the cheaper imported stuff from China is as safe.) So, a large part of their factory is devoted to storing their stock of PVC. Pick a colour. Any colour!
So for these workers, it really is Christmas Day every day. And when I paid them a visit at the beginning of September, they’d even got their Christmas tree up outside their offices. (Although, I suspect they never actually take it down!)
My thanks go to all the staff at festive for their help with my research, especially to the Marketing Officer, Holly (Yes, that really is her name!).