>>>III<<< Heide and Mirka Mora
Līga Ejups and I both enjoyed the relaxed atmosphere of the Heide Museum of Modern Art, http://www.heide.com.au
We loved this innovative sound and movement installation, as well as the Mirka Mora Exhibition.
October 1, 2014
>>>III<<< Adressing the people
Today I addressed the Latvian Teachers’ Conference. It is great to see how many people volunteer their time to teach in community schools (and attend conferences on a Sunday!) My talk was called “How not to be a boring teacher”. I enjoyed the research, although working out how to express some of the terms, like “multiple intelligences” and “digital natives” was a challenge.
I had the pleasure of meeting and listening to Līga Ejups. She is a fabulous lady, but also a museum curator, teacher and writer of innovative art and culture programs for schools. She is also the Director of the Cultural Office of the American Latvian Association. Her talk about how to teach language via visual art at the Latvian Teachers’ Conference was nothing short of inspirational. I was gob-smacked when she started her talk with a slide of a threshing barn painted by Latvian American artist Jānis Kalmite, as I have a very similar one on my wall at home. Mum brought it back from a trip to America in the late 1970s. I will respect it even more now!
September 28, 2014
>>>III<<< Etched box
This was a great commission! A lovely lady rang up and wanted something that represented Australia and Latvia for a special Christening in Ireland. It needed to be unique and was not to be jewellery. We came up with the idea of a box.
I designed and hand cut a Latvian sun and a eucalypt image into lino using Aussie artist Margaret Preston’s style as inspiration. I used that as a resist and etched the metal.
Then I hand formed it into a box. As I don’t have the specialist tools, that was a huge challenge of improvisations, which included using a street pole as a mandrel!
The lid is opened by lifting a sterling silver latch made in the shape of a eucalypt leaf. The inside is lined with merino wool, which is dyed in the colours of the Australian bush. I loosely felted that into the shape of a eucalypt.
I love the result, which is reminiscent of an old dowry box or treasure chest with exposed hinges and rivets.
September 17, 2014
>>>III<<< Baltic Festival 2014
I spent another magical day being transported from North Melbourne to the ancient forests and glades of the Baltics. I love to compare and contrast the costumes: jewellery, colours, textures. Here are three beauties from Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania. Geographically so near, yet also so far. Of course the decades are also widely disparate.
And as for the bling...yummmm! I feel so privileged that these ladies shared their treasures.
On the left: Lithuanian. ON the right: Estonian.
This Latvian costume features so many metal tassels that the wearer’s every step jangles with a thousand harmonious sounds, evoking the magic of times past. This costume is a direct antecedent of the many tassel designs in Latvian jewellery. Mine included! What an amazing thrill: feeling an immediate link from what I am doing at my bench today to such a distinguished and ancient past!
BTW, the ancient Latvians from this area buried their dead, rather than burned them on a pyre as was the custom in the rest of Latvia. The abundance of metal meant that the costume was very well preserved for the archeological reveal. So we know that reproductions like this are true: right down to the colour of the fabric: unreal, huh?
September 14, 2014
>>>III<<< Amber glow
I’m understanding amber increasingly well. Its inner glow is so warming. But it is so very soft: easy to burn and break.
August 22, 2014
>>>III<<< Prehistory at my bench
Check the mosquito in this bead of amber: I can clearly see its head, wings and even the hairs on its legs. I hope there is not enough dinosaur DNA in its belly to reconstitute a monster! A lucky find indeed.
March 16, 2014
>>>III<<< Next market Latvian Village Wantirna March 29
Check out my new range of 7 day rings and traditional brooch-based jewellery as well as lots of other goodies: 60 Fraser Crescent Wantirna South.
March 5, 2014
>>>III<<< Busy summer!
I’ve had a long break from the bench. My summer featured working at the Latvian Summer School in Normanville, close to Adelaide. Fabulous students and staff and a thoroughly inspirational experience! But VERY HOT!!
February 16, 2014
>>>III<<< More famous artisans!
India Flint! http://www.indiaflint.com
The inimitable textile artist India Flint, who teaches and exhibits around the world, took up my invite to come to the Latvian Summer School. She drove 4 hours to meet Māris Maniņš and give a talk to the senior students about her work. Respect! Her family is Latvian and she has a piece in the Latvian Museum of Design in Rīga. It was fabulous to see Māris and India drop straight into a professional rave. I love this pic I took in the café in Normanville. India gave me a hand dyed silk/wool scarf. I love it. To think that Halle Berry and I wear the same clothes!!! J (India’s wonderful apparel is available at Church Boutique and yes, Ms Berry has an India Flint dress! http://churchboutique.comin Hollywood)
February 16, 2014
>>>III<<< Famous artisans!
Summer in Adelaide meant that I met some amazing artisans. I worked with the LTMF (Australian Latvian Artisan’s Guild) team to bring the famous weaver Māris Maniņš from Rīga, Latvia to the Australian Latvian Summer School to teach weaving. He is an award winning weaver and a fabulous teacher. He worked so hard in insufferable heat and the result was something like 80 woven objects and a whole new world opened to the school community. A great effort all round!
February 16, 2014
>>>III<<< Heritage wedding rings
A lovely couple asked me to make their wedding rings. After discussing a number of options, they loved my suggestion of using the gold from the wedding ring of the bride’s father to make a contrast feature. The moment of melting the old gold ring was poignant, but the joy of incorporating a piece of such personal history into the new rings was exquisite.
December 22, 2013
>>>III<<< Latvian Artisan Workshops
The inaugural Latvian Artisan Workshops run over two days at Latvian House in Melbourne were a huge success. I'm proud to have been a driving force in creating this community event, along with a growing team of Aussie Latvian artisans. It was just fabulous to see so many people of such a wide age range come and try Latvian crafts. The jewellery workshop was full to the brim, and I'm exhausted from hauling half my studio tools to the event, but it was so worth it!
December 30, 2013
>>>III<<< Next market November 17!
I’m already getting heaps of orders for Christmas and school graduations. Think ahead, please, to give me time to make things. I will have a stall at Latvian House Melbourne, on November 17th (for the Latvian Independence Day celebrations).
November 1, 2013
>>>III<<< New 7 day rings!
I finished my new range of 7 day rings for the Baltic Festival and they went like hot cakes!!! They look just fabulous. They are show stoppers: heavy with silver and meaning. A unique symbol isdeeply etched into each side of the tassels. I spent ages researching the symbols and making my own versions of the designs. My rings are, of course, made from quality materials and made to last. Earrings of different lengths to match. Fabulous! So proud!
October 15, 2013
>>>III<<< New 7 day ring range.
I know some of you are keenly waiting for new stock of my bronze tasseled 7 day ring. But my kiln issues have not yet been resolved, so there are none of those in the pipe line at the moment. However, I'm very happy to let you know that I'm working on a fabulous new 7 day ring design. This time with Latvian symbols. I love delving into Lativan symbology and I've chosen the 7 strongest symbols for women for the range. I'm still in the design phase with heaps of sketches littering my life.
August 8, 2013
>>>III<<< Exhibition a huge success!
People raved about it! A fabulous long and hot weekend. Here's me at the gates of Latvian House in Elwood, greeting the Multicultural Affairs Minister Nicholas Kotsiras with two of the great young people who volunteered to help with the exhibition opening.
And this is my vibrant octogenerian Godmother with one of her lamps at the exhibition with the works of other Latvian artisans.
March 14, 2013
>>>III<<< No Fine Design Market in Doncaster for March and April.
Please note, my wonderful regulars, that Vasara Jewellery will not be going to the Fine Design Market in March and April. Conflicting responsibilities see below.
>>>III<<< Huge Latvian Crafts Exhibition March 9 – 11, 2013
Latvian House, 3 Dickins Street Elwood.
Sat 9th 11- 6pm
Sun 10th 11 – 6pm
Mon 11th 11 – 3pm
I'm honoured to be part of the organising committee for this mega, one-off exhibition and sale of vintage Latvian ceramics, weaving, woodwork, leatherwork, glass, jewellery and embroidery. The core of the exhibition are from the Sergejs and Lidija and Beklešovs legacy, donated by their daughter Ināra Taylor. The Beklešovi were super active Aussie Latvian artisans whose talent and energy reached across the world. The exhibition will feature several hundred pieces which were created mainly in Australia between the 1950s and the 1990s, with some contemporary exhibits as well.
Profits from the exhibition will be donated to the AZVV Latvian Summer High School (run near Adelaide in January for Aussie Latvian kids) to enable future generations to learn the folk art skills, which are such an integral part of Latvian cultural identity.
The exhibition will be opened by the Victorian Minister for Multicultural Affairs & Citizenship, Nicholas Kotsiras and it will run for the long weekend of March 9-11, 2013. Please come along and bring your friends. You wont see art like this anywhere else. You can't buy art like this anymore.
I’m helping with the event and will be there (with my jewellery) all long weekend. Do drop by and bring your friends.
>>>III<<< The wonders of the internet.
I just found this image and article on the web. I don’t know who wrote it and who took the pic of my jewellery, but it’s true: my daughter and I sell our handmade work at the local market called the Fine Design Market in Doncaster, Melbourne. It’s on the second Sunday of each month.
Posted January 14, 2013
>>>III<<< Keynote speaker, 54th Latvian Culture Festival in Adelaide 2012
I was honoured to be invited as the speaker at the 54th Latvian Culture Festival in Adelaide. My talk was called “Latvian Jewellery and its Symbolism”, and it featured 170 referenced images! As I prepared to speak about the rich, unique and, frankly, amazing Latvian jewellery I was nervous, particularly as I saw many important Latvian Aussie dignitaries taking their seats. As usual, I thought to myself “If I can do this, I can do anything”: the mantra took its calming affect and it worked well!
At the end I was blown away when an enthusiastic, personable lady came up to congratulate me: it was the Minister of Culture of the Republic of Latvia, Žaneta Jaunzeme-Grende! I knew she was at the festival, of course, but I’d only seen her from a distance, and I hadn’t twigged. I felt so honoured that this important lady had found the time to listen to my speech. She agreed with some of the controversial points I had made about the wearing of the Latvian national costume. But what stuck in my mind, is that she said “We are one nation”. For the first time I felt that maybe us second, third generation immigrants can still contribute something of value to the old country.
Posted January 10, 2013
>>>III<<< I participated at the Baltic Festival in Melbourne last weekend. It was the first time I’ve seen so many Lithuanian costumes close up. They are simply stunning: such colourful, contrasting textiles! Although geographically and linguistically we are so close, the costumes are quite different from the Latvian costumes. But most amazing to me was the almost complete lack of metal adornment. I spoke with many of the Lithuanian ladies and they confirmed that, apart from metal clasps on some of the vests, there is no other metal. Instead, they wore a beautiful, profuse array of amber. How different from the Latvians, where metal plays such an important role of many of our costumes! For example check this Latvian costume from Zemgale, which is exhibited at the National History Museum of Latvia.
The Estonians and Finns wore some lovely metal jewellery. This one was a simply stunning example of their Viking-inspired brooches. The elderly lady didn’t know the particulars of its provenance: only that it had belonged to her mother and that it came form Estonia. The detail of the workmanship and the unique, strong design made me feel it could be sitting proudly in the Estonian National Museum. What a privilege to have seen it here in Melbourne!
Posted September 14, 2012
Daumants Kalniņš is an inspiring man. He has dedicated his life to researching ancient Latvian jewellery and he has created the Latvian heart and soul of ancient jewellery knowledge, which now reaches out across the world. I’m not talking about a multi-national empire where the key players lounge on yachts. Daumants has worked for decades with his own hands and a hammer, often in very difficult circumstances, to work out just how jewellery was made in ancient Latvia, then he recreated the tools to make authentic replicas. Daumants battled with soviet administrations and lack of funds to build a smithy out of found objects and unwanted offcuts in the beautiful medieval Cēsis castle. Over the years he has gathered over 100 jewellery objects which make up the smithy museum. People from Latvia, the Baltics and from around the world turn to Daumants for information about ancient Baltic craftsmanship. Daumants found that his knowledge is unique and he has written books, addressed and organised conferences and he hosts a stream of tourists who come to see his smithy during their visit to the beautiful medieval castle.
The two days I spent working in the smithy, under the charming, humorous guidance of Daumants were a pleasure, honour and inspiration to treasure for a life-time. What a knowledgable, experienced and generous teacher, researcher, writer, presenter, patriot and heaps more: what a man!!
>>>III<<< I’ve just returned from a wonderful trip to northern Europe, which was packed full of visiting friends, markets, museums and galleries in Latvia, Estonia and Finland. Absolute hightlights were a 2 day masterclass with the famous jeweller of ancient Latvian jewellery, Daumants Kalniņš in his smithy at Cēsis castle, as well as a lengthy visit with the head of the Ethnographic Department of the National History Museum of Latvia, Ilze Zinģīte. Spending two days at the Latvian Open Air Museum’s massive annual craft fair was also a priviledge that all my senses are grateful for. I am stunned, awed and insired by the majesty and sheer amount of Latvian jewellery. Posted August 15, 2012
>>>III<<< Mother’s Day Speech 2012
Melbourne Daugavas Vanagi invited me to present a speech about Latvian jewellery . I considered this a grand opportunity for some more formal research, and as I am a bit of a raconteur, the speech was a big hit. Over 100 people heard the 45 minute presentation, including 89 (referenced) images. Great feedback and two invites for repeat performances interstate. Not bad!?
Posted May 18, 2012