Artisan Biographies

Biographical information about our founders and various Artisans.

Antanas Tamošaitis
(1906-2005)

Born in Barzdai, Lithuania. In 1929 he graduated from the Kaunas School of Art as a graphic artist, lectured there for two years, as well as at the Women’s Art School and various other institutions. From 1931 to 1940 he was director of the Folk Art and Home Economics Department of the Agricultural Academy at Dotnuva, and travelled throughout the country, studying folk weavings and their techniques. During that period he collected hundreds of artifacts for Lithuanian museums. From 1940 to 1942 he taught at the Vilnius Art Academy and was the Director of Pedagogy, then headed the Decorative Textile Studio at the Kaunas School of Applied Art.


Antanas Tamošaitis participated in many solo and group shows in France, Germany, Canada, Venezuela, Colombia, and the United States, and had one-person shows: in Montreal (1949, 1971), Chicago, Illinois (1962, 1963), Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (1964, 1980), Ottawa, Ontario (1964, 1965, 1966), Kingston, Ontario (1965, 1984), Detroit, Michigan (1966, 1984), Toronto, Ontario (1967, 1976), Sarnia, Ontario (1968), Windsor, Ontario (1969), Washington, D.C. (1970), Boston, Massachussetts (1971), Brampton, Ontario (1982), Mississauga, Ontario (1974, 1981), Winnipeg, Manitoba (1974), Hamilton, Ontario (1975), Brooklyn, New York (1981), Chicago, Illinois (1986). In 1967 the Federal Government of Canada awarded Antanas Tamošaitis with a Centennial Medal for his contribution to Canadian culture.


Antanas Tamošaitis worked in oils, lithographs, and watercolours. Over the years he developed a unique style based on a synthesis of modern abstract elements and Lithuanian folk art motifs. In many paintings he used a unique compositional framework reminiscent of frost patterns on a window pane. On this interwoven framework he painted figures and subjects found in Lithuanian folk tales, legends, and plastic art. Because of his immersion in the ethnographic dimension of Lithuanian art history, Antanas Tamošaitis’ work is best characterized by its association with the best elements of  folk art, from which his themes and images are derived. The vibrant coloration of his paintings reflects that of the sashes of the village weaver, who extracted dyes from local plants and flowers.


In 2000, Antanas Tamošaitis returned to live the rest of his life in Lithuania, and died there in 2005. A museum-gallery, “Židinys” (www.vda.lt/galerija-zidinys) was dedicated to the memory of Antanas and Antastazija at the Vilnius Art Academy, and houses the collections he donated: the folk art he had amassed, including Lithuanian folk textiles, sashes and clothes of the 19th and the first half of the 20th century, tapestries and other works created by the artists themselves. The Gallery also has a valuable library of publications on art.

Anastazija Tamošaitis (nee Mažeikaitė)
(1910-1991)

Born in Vainutas, Lithuania, was a painter, a weaver of tapestries and of thousands of Lithuanian national costumes and sashes. She studied at the school of Fine Arts in Kaunas, learned Swedish at Vytautas Magnus University and continued her studies in Sweden, then Austria. She was the weaving instructor at the Chamber of Agriculture’s Folk Art Department, and from 1932 to 1937, head of weaving courses. She had travelled extensively throughout Lithuania, conducting courses in weaving technique, and reviving old Lithuanian weaving traditions. In Austria, she studied painting, art history, historical costumes at the Meistershule in Salzburg from 1943-1945.


In her travels, Anastazija collected a vast number of antique sashes, samples of the national costume and a substantial mass of information about them.


Anastazija was a tireless propagator of Lithuanian folk art. She wrote instruction booklets and articles on Lithuanian folk textiles and needlework.   Mezgimas ir namie austi drabužiai, 1935 (Knitting and Home Weaving); Mergaičių darbeliai, 1937 (Crafts for Girls); Mūsų rankdarbiai, 1939 (Our Handiwork). She worked as an instructor of weaving in courses organized by Antanas, and as head of the Home Economics Department at the Chamber of Agriculture. Her courses shed light on the regional characteristics of folk costumes of Lithuania.


From 1940 to 1942 she taught textile art at the Institute of Applied Arts in Kaunas and from 1946 to 1948 at the Ecole des Arts et Metiers in Freiburg, West Germany.


When she and Antanas emigrated to Canada, she founded her own studio in Montreal, and moved it to Kingston, Ontario, the following year. She taught pictorial tapestry weaving at the McDonald Institute in Guelph, Ontario, in 1962 and 1963, in London, Ontario, in 1965, and in the Kingston Handloom Weavers’ and Spinners’ Club, of which she was an honorary member.


Her biographer, Vytautas A. Jonynas, notes that she exhibited her work at least once a year after moving to Canada. She presented Lithuanian folk art that she and Aldona Mažeikaitė created at the Canadian National Exhibition (CNE) in Toronto in 1949, and displayed at the Annual International Women’s Exhibition in New York that same year. She was at the CNE in 1950, 1952, 1958 and 1971. In 1957, one of her tapestries was included in the first exhibition of national crafts at the National Gallery in Ottawa. In 1981 she wove a Vilnius region costume as a wedding gift to Britain’s Princess Diana, which provided an opportunity to show a 23 minute film “Spirits of an Amber Past”, via London’s BBC TV. One of her tapestries is included in the collection of the Vatican Museum, and a reproduction of one of her works appears in the definitive volume, Tapestry Mirror of History (F.P. Thompson, Crown Publ., New York, 1980).


A. Tamošaitienė’s work evolved in phases. The woven and knotted tapestries done in Lithuania, Austria and Germany reflect straightforward folk art. Geometric patterns and vegetative ornamentation and country architectural motifs are rhythmically ordered and balanced within the two-dimensional composition. During this period, she used watercolours for the tapestry design scheme. A new era began when she began to experiment in tempera, gouache and oil. These techniques enabled her to move from the iconography of static figures within a picture frame to partially abstract tapestries.  The mood and compostion of colour became the dominant concern. Her work had crossed the line between applied and fine art. Her tapestries took on the monumentality and emotional accent of modern painting. In her art, symbolism and subjects of Lithuanian folk legends combine with the impressions of moon, sunrise, sunsets and sounds, movements and colours of river, forest and wind.

© 2024 The Lithuanian Folk Art Institute. All Rights Reserved. 

Past LTFAI.org Talks
Here’s what you have missed. Get updates of upcoming events. Sign up for our email newsletter.

Traditional Crosses in Lithuania:
Lithuania is sometimes called the land of crosses. Crosses and unique pillar shrines with various sculptures have been an integral part of the Lithuanian landscape for several hundred years.  They represent not only religious symbolism but national identity especially in times of repression.  We will look at and discuss the amazing wooden carving and iron work of this important folk art and touch on the well known Kryziu Kalnas (Hill of Crosses) site in Lithuania.


Wool (Vilna):
Wool Crafts in Lithuania: Although linen features prominently in Lithuanian folktales and folk songs, we rarely hear about wool. However in the cold climate working with wool was an integral part of daily life forrural villagers in Lithuania. Small farms were self-sufficient; little or no money was needed to supplement the household’s home production. All the women and girls in a family spun, wove, knitted, and felted wool to create all of the households woolens.


Easter Palms (Verbos)
History and Significance of Verbos in Lithuanian Life: Palm Sunday is an important part of the Easter tradition. Learn about the history of decorated palms and get to know the customs and decorative techniques specific to Lithuania. (Please note, this is not a hands-on workshop.)


Black Ceramics (Juoda Keramica)
History and use of black ceramics in Lithuania: The tradition of black ceramics has been documented in Lithuania for centuries. Although eventually falling out of favour due to other pottery techniques, Lithuania is one of the few places that still make this beautiful pottery. Learn about the history, techniques and artistry of black ceramics.


Amber (Gintaras)
Gintaras – Our Golden Heritage: Gintaras, or Amber, has been important to Lithuanians and Baltic people for millennia. Important in terms of culture, art and symbolism. Learn about various aspects of Amber to bring you to a new and better understanding and appreciation of this beautiful “golden stone”.


Easter Eggs (Marguciai)
History and Significance of Easter Eggs in Lithuanian Life: The egg has long been seen as a symbol of fertility and life. Learn about the role of decorated eggs in ancient and modern times. Get to know the customs and decorative techniques specific to Lithuania.

What is an LTFAI talk?

We are excited to launch our online LTFAI Talks. We hope to have a series of talks on topics that are relevant to Lithuanian folk art. These are lectures, not workshops, that will provide interesting information for anyone interested in folk art.

They will be from a half hour to a full hour in length with time for discussion at the end.

Each LTFAI Talk is free but you have to register to get an invitation to the session.

Giles Bugailiskis Bio

Raised in the Lithuanian community in Hamilton, Ontario. He moved to Winnipeg, Manitoba, to attend university and was a long-time board member of the Lithuanian Canadian Community there and now serves as the resource person for inquiries about the Lithuanians in Manitoba. Giles has over 30 years of experience in municipal heritage conservation planning and public outreach, having retired as the City of Winnipeg’s Senior Planner for Heritage. He is also a current member of the LTFAI Board.

Ramune Jonaitis Bio

Ramune is a translator and editor, who worked with the Canadian Lithuanian Weekly Tėviškės žiburiai as managing editor for over 20 years.

She is also an artisan who makes mosaics and jewellery using Lithuanian motifs and amber. She is a long time member of LTFAI and has recently served on our board. She learned tapestry-weaving from Aldona Vaitonienė, a master weaver in Toronto, Canada.

Testimonials: My first ever tapestry. I am an artist so I did a little extra with the beads and wire cord to hang. It reminds me of a dress so I had fun with that thought. 😉

I think you did an excellent job with the workshop, especially for those of us with no experience weaving. I have already ordered yarn. The colors in this piece was whatever my friend gave me as I was not able to go out shopping.

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