Decorative Sheet Metal
Traditional Russian homes have always been known for the splendor of their carved wooden ornament, the eaves and the windowframes. Carving wood was always a time-consuming affair, however, and the material was a tricky one, liable to crack and rot. When steel mills began to produce iron for roofing and it became relatively affordable, craftsmen began to carve iron instead, and the art of decorative sheet metal was born.
This architectural art is a rarity in Almaty, and when it is found it is never quite at the level of the masters in Russia. Yet the scarcity of decorative metalwork makes it more delightful to find. Keep an eye out for carved eaves [подзоры; podzory], gable ornaments [фронтонные украшения; frontonnye ukrasheniya], downspouts [водосточные трубы; vodostochnye truby] and chimney caps [дымки; dymki]. The carved metal eaves are so popular that I suspect they may even be sold in bulk at building supply stores. The downspouts, meanwhile, are one-of-a-kind, furnished with flowers and stars and assorted filigree. I find it simply wonderful that something as mundane as a gutter system can be turned into an exhibition of artistry, a product so delicate made for a purpose so crude.