Saturday, January 24, 2009

Ukrainian Beading

At the January meeting of the Toronto Bead Society, Maria Rypan treated us to a slide show and discussion of contemporary beadwork in the Ukraine. Her talk was based on her recent travels there and the artists she has met while visiting. I was quite interested to learn that beading is mostly found in the western part of the country and doesn't form part of the traditions for the eastern areas. It was no surprise to hear that the Soviet regime discouraged the bead artists from using certain colours, such as those for their national flag, in their designs and she showed us an example of how one artist had discreetly placed the banned colours in their work. She also showed us pictures of incredibly elaborate beaded necklaces made by the men and women she had met, many of whom sell their work at outdoor markets. I was quite impressed by the volume of pieces they had on hand in their stalls, dozens of pieces representing literally hundreds of hours of work. Another traditional form of beadwork for this country is beaded eggs, made using either wooden forms or actual eggs that have been emptied before being decorated - can you imagine working with something so fragile as the base for your beadwork? As well as the slide show photos, Maria also brought along examples of the jewellery, eggs and clothing she has picked up on her travels to include in her personal collection. The beaded clothing worn for holidays and ceremonial occasions was especially interesting to see and touch - as a result of the amount of beadwork added to fabric, the pieces are quite heavy. All in all, it was a very interesting presentation, thanks Maria!

You can check out Maria's website at

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