All posts by Ramune Jonaitis

Fall 2018

Summer slipped by very quickly, but we are now enjoying reports about various activities. The 100th Independence Anniversary festivities in Lithuania took place in July and were covered by the Lithuanian press during the summer months.

♦  In mid-September a Lithuanian Folk Art weekend was organized at Neringa Camp in Vermont by Jana Motivans and Reggie Jagminas, together with Neringa administrator Dana Grajauskas.

Jana reports the weekend was a great success! Nearly 40 people participated in workshops onn weaving, embroidery, Easter eggs (margučiai), straw ornaments, amber bracelets and necklaces, woodworking, and “verbos”. Most participants attended several sessions and made many beautiful projects. There was also wonderful food (kugelis, home-made cheese, etc.)  Two very interesting evening presentations were also well-attended. On Friday Aldona Rygelis spoke about the LTFAI National Costume online Archive project, and on Saturday Danute Mileka presented the flax/linen process complete with all equipment.

Although they say it was a one-time event,  we hope the organizers will be motivated by their success and plan another Folk Art weekend.

♦ New LTFAI member Vilija Boguta of Michigan sent photos of her children making sashes (juostos) and gave us permission to post them. She writes:

My children (Sigita – 9, Darius – 7, Neringa – 6 and Vasara – 3) and I took an interest in weaving last winter and began learning to make sashes. We have a friend living in Ann Arbor who knows about weaving so we learn with her as well. I have been to the Art Gallery in Lemont and the World Lithuanian Center many times, but because we now live in Michigan, I couldn’t learn to weave there. We’re eager to learn more about Lithuanian folk art, especially straw decorations. We have strung together quite a few “sodai” and made small decorations as well. In mid-October we went to the Lithuanian Days in Los Angeles, where my children had a were selling the sashes they made!

Aš su savo vaikais  susidomėjome audimu pereita žiemą ir pradėjome mokintis kaip austi vytines (card-weaving) juostas. Ir tada užsidegėm! Audžiame vytines ir paprastas rinktines ir labai norime išsmokti kaip sudėtingestnes juostas austi. Turime drauge (Audrą Venclovaitę), kuri gyvena Ann Arbor ir kuri labai daug žino apie audimą, tai mokinamės iš jos irgi. Esu daug kartu buvus dailės muziejuje Lemonte, Pasaulio lietuvių centre, bet deja, kadangi dabar gyvenu Michigan, neteko progos ten mokintis audimo.  Mes bendrai labai domimės lietuvių tautodaile,  ypač šiaudinukais. Esame surišę nemažai sodų is šiaudų ir pagaminę daug šiaudinukų. Vaikai labai mėgsta išmokti ir gaminti, tai visi mokinamės kartu. Ką tik grįžom iš Lietuvių dienų Los Angeles – mūsų vaikai mugėje pardavinėjo savo juostas!

Card-weaving a Sash
Another Technique used by Boguta Family Weavers
Boguta Family selling their Sashes in LA

Thank you Vilija! We encourage all members to send us photos and descriptions of your folk art projects and endeavours!

Fall 2019

♦ Welcome back everyone! We hope your summer was wonderful. Now that “winter is coming”, we can look forward to planning and learning new crafts for the indoor season. Knitting was a theme this year, with Donna Druchunas visiting at the AGM and showing us how to make traditional Lithuanian wristlets (riešinės). It is a craft that Donna has delved into deeply, and has several books on the topic. We will post a list soon, and are also adding a new section on knitting, which we invite you to visit. Send us your thoughts and any areas of further interest as well!

♦ Camp Neringa in Brattleboro, Vermont, has its 50th anniversary this year, and many interesting events were organized to celebrate. Some of you may have attended the reunion in September. There was also a mushrooming weekend, which was unfortunately somewhat far for Torontonians, but closer for Montrealers and of course Lithuanians from New York, Boston, communities in Connecticut and other Eastern seaboard areas. However LTFAI president Diana Wiese and secretary Ramune Jonaitis did make it to Neringa for an event at the end of August, called Culture Days. Our goal was to present our organization as an important North American cultural institution. Diana spoke about its goals and future plans, and we were happy to promote LTFAI, and even have some new members as a result. Attendance at the Cultural Days was not huge, as various people came and went at various points during the program (August 21-25), but the group was warm and receptive. There were interesting talks on architecture, on the history of Neringa, a book presentation, a writing workshop, a play reading, a demonstration of wool processing and other sessions we were sorry to miss because of time constraints. We hope we can continue to reach out to our American friends and widen our network of Lithuanian folk artists and aficionados. On our way back we also managed to  visit Donna Druchunas at her home in Vermont, and found her dyeing wool! We were happy to hear that she is learning Lithuanian and is as dynamic as ever. For knitting news and ideas, do visit her website https://sheeptoshawl.com.

♦ We encourage everyone to begin thinking about Christmas crafts and shows you might want to organize. Straw ornaments (šiaudinukai) are fun to make and can easily involve children. Although plastic straws are a no-no environmentally, this is certainly an earth-friendly and creative way to use them. For the crafty, there is also still time to consider paper-cut art for cards and, of course, knitted wristlets, socks and hats. Other gift ideas: small-frame weavings, upcycled Lithuanian tablecloth mats, bookmarks or jam-jar toppers and upcycled amber jewellery. Watch for new articles with ideas and instructions!

Keeping Lithuanian Folk Art Alive

This year‘s annual general meeting of the Lithuanian Folk Art Institute (LTFAI) took place on April 30, 2017, at the Resurrection Parish in Toronto. The former president, Birutė Batraks, called the meeting to order and asked for a moment of silence in remembrance of recently deceased members – Laurynas Vismanas, Aldona Vaitonienė, Irene Meiklejohn, Dana Šablinskas and others. Their passing was deeply felt in the organization and it was important  to honour their memories and accomplishments.

LTFAI Board elections also took place at the annual meeting, and the following were elected: Diana Bubulyte-Wiese (President), Algimantas Nakrošius (Treasurer), Ramūnė Jonaitis (Secretary), Danguolė Breen (LMAC Liaison), Sebastian Grinham (Technical Advisor), Aldona Rygelis (National Costume Project Lead), Birutė Batraks, Alytė Milliken, Algis Norvila, Kristina Pavilanis.

This past year, a number of things were initiated and completed with plans for many more for this year.  We want to ensure that LTFAI is not just a legacy organization but a living breathing entity that celebrates the past and embraces the future.

Our main accomplishment was the creation of this website, which will allow us to provide information, showcase and promote Lithuanian folk art, reach out to members and more importantly new members, and provide a home for the archive of the National Costume Project, one of our key current projects, being led by weaver and photographer Aldona Rygelis from New York City. Its purpose is to document and photograph Lithuanian national costumes woven in North America, in the diaspora, in order to capture the beauty and artistry of these garments so that future generations can appreciate and understand the technical mastery that went into this weaving. The project is ongoing, and Phase 1 of the digital archive is planned to launch in September 2017. We are proud to be able to do that in the Year of the National Costume as designated by the ministry of culture of Lithuania.

We have an ambitious year ahead and welcome any and all artists and craftspeople interested in Lithuanian folk art and particularly weavers to become engaged with the organization and keep our heritage alive.

Lithuanian Folk Art Institute (LTFAI) Board, elected April, 2017. Seated, from left: Birute Batraks, Diana Bubulis-Wiese (President), Ramune Jonaitis (Secretary); standing, from left: Algimantas Nakrosius (Treasurer), Lith. Costume Archive Lead Aldona Rygelis, Danguole Juozapavicius-Breen, Sebastian Grinham.  Missing are: Algis Norvila, Alyte Milliken, Christina Pavilanis.     Photo  J. Tarvydas

Spring News

June 2018

A note of sincere thanks to Petras Kaufmanas for his donation of $500 dollars (US) in memory of Audronė Tamulienė. We appreciate that he has chosen us to commemorate all her work in the Lithuanian Community and with our organization.

 

 

May 2018

Annual Meetings

The Annual meeting of the Board and the Annual General Meeting of members of the LTFAI were held at the Lithuanian Museum-Archives of Canada (2185 Stavebank Rd., Mississauga, Ontario) on April 28, 2018.

The Board has monthly telephone meetings with members in New York, Montreal, and Toronto, and took the opportunity of the AGM to meet in person to discuss various matters. All Board members were present on April 28, at 10:30 a.m. to review finances and work done to date, especially with regard to the online National Costume Archive project.

Archives, outreach and membership fees were discussed. General and specific plans were made for the upcoming year, including preservation of the LTFAI archive and connecting with various folk dance groups regarding the care of national costumes.

The goals of the organization were discussed in terms of a two-pronged approach – inspiration at drawn from the past and the promotion of current artisanship. In addition to the original intention of the LTFAI – to collect and preserve Lithuanian Folk Art – it is important to locate and showcase today‘s artisans.

Eighteen LTFAI members attended the Annual General Meeting at 1:30 p.m. to hear the President Diana Wiese‘s and Treasurer Algimantas Nakrosius‘ reports. Sebastian Grinham demonstrated the beta version of the National Costume Archive and its capabilities. Navigation is still being perfected, but great progress has been made by Sebastian in Canada, project manager Aldona Rygelis and Algis Norvila of New York. A launch of at least part of the archive is expected within a matter of months. Participants brought several new thoughts to the meeting, including the possible sale or donation of inherited national costumes (complete or as separate garments) to folk dance groups and museums.

The official portion of the meeting was adjourned at 3 p.m., and after a short break a presentation about amber was given by Diana Wiese and Ramune Jonaitis. A small display of amber jewellery and other amber artifacts had been arranged to accompany the presentation. Coffee and cookies were provided.

 

Upcycle your Amber!

The Toronto branch of the LTFAI held a workshop on April 14, 2018 in the Resurrection Parish Board Room (1 Resurrection Rd., Etobicoke). This unique event, „Upcycle your Amber“ attracted nearly 10  participants in each of two sessions, at 10 a.m. and 1:30 p.m.

The sessions began with a photo presentation with commentary by Diana Wiese about the history and properties of amber. Ramune Jonaitis showed a book published in Lithuania called „Amber“. Toronto chair Birute Batraks taught everyone how to create a necklace using drilled amber beads and leather string. Several shorter leather threads, each with amber beads knotted on them, were then knotted onto the main necklace. (See photo below.)

The workshop was received with great enthusiasm, and several participants reconvened privately at a later date to discuss amber jewellery repair and other possiblities for remodelling amber jewellery using beads and pendants. Further workshops may be held in late September or October.

 

 

 

 

April 2018

An amber jewellery workshop is being  held on Saturday, April 14, at 10 a.m. at the Resurrection Parish Board Room (1 Resurrection Rd., Etobicoke). An afternoon session is scheduled for 1:30 p.m., if the morning session is full. Space is available for a maximum of 10 participants. Ramune Jonaitis will speak (in English) about what you didn’t know about amber, and branch chair Birute Batraks will show participants how to use amber beads to make a new and fun necklace. We will be able to test individual amber beads and pieces that are not mounted in metal. Teens are welcome! This will be a basic demonstration, and other workshops may follow if participants are interested.

Please bring an amber necklace or bracelet that you would like to take apart or just beads (hopefully with min. 0.5 mm holes to fit the string. We are working on a method to enlarge holes smaller than 0.5 mm). The workshop fee is $20 for non-members, $15 for members, plus a $10 materials fee. Please bring small scissors, and small pliers if you have them. To register, email Ramune at gro.i1574462851aftl@1574462851tcatn1574462851oc1574462851 or Birute at moc.l1574462851iamto1574462851h@ska1574462851rtabm1574462851.

 

 

March 2018

◊  The LTFAI annual general meeting will be held at the Lithuanian Canadian Museum-Archives, 2185 Stavebank Rd., Mississauga (Anapilis) on Saturday, April 28, 2018 at 1:30 p.m. Please come early to pay your $10 membership fee so you are up to date and can vote at this meeting. After the business meeting we will have a speaker. An invitation with agenda and proxy form will be sent out shortly.

◊  We are pleased to announce that we have two new members of the Toronto chapter of the LTFAI: Nijole Klemaitiene and Loretta Leblanc. We met them at the 100th Anniversary of Lithuanian Independence Concert at Anapilis, Mississauga, on March 3, 2018. Welcome!

◊  Board member Kristina Pavilanis is researching and compiling weaving patterns and designs (raštai ir žičkai). Anyone who has knowledge of patterns other than what we have seen in Lithuanian National Costume or Lithuanian Sashes is invited to call her at 450-458-3381 or email ac.oo1574462851hay@s1574462851inali1574462851vapc1574462851.

◊  The Toronto branch of the LTFAI is holding an Easter egg decorating – (margučiai) workshop at Resurrection Parish, 1 Resurrection Rd., Etobicoke, ON, on Palm Sunday, April 25 after Mass. If you would like to attend or can help, please contact Birute Batraks, by phone (905-271-1640) or by email: moc.l1574462851iamto1574462851h@ska1574462851rtabm1574462851.

◊  Calling expert folk artists! We received a request from Camp Neringa organizers. They are planning a Folk Art Weekend (in English) for adults this year, September 14-16, 2018, at Camp Neringa (Brattleboro, Vermont) and are looking for folk art experts to define and discuss Lithuanian folk art, including Lithuanian national costumes. If anyone is interested in coming to speak at the camp, please contact Dana Vainauskiene, Assistant Executive Director of Camp Neringa, Inc. by email: gro.a1574462851gnire1574462851n@ana1574462851d1574462851.

◊  Calling for new members! If you are interested in some form of folk art, or would like to learn one, please write to us – become a member – browse through our website. We have just begun an exciting new era of nurturing and promoting folk art, old and new. Join us today!

Summer 2019

♦ We are pleased to announce the launch of the first installment of the National Costume Archive. We will be making further refinements and additions in the coming months. Comments are welcomed! (Email: gro.i1574462851aftl@1574462851tcatn1574462851oc1574462851).

♦ On May 4, 2019, members of the Lithuanian Folk Art Institute (LTFAI) gathered at the Lithuanian Museum-Archives of Canada in Mississauga ON for the LTFAI Annual Meeting.  President Diana Wiese reviewed the organization’s activities, finances and future plans.       Over the past year, a number of workshops and presentations were held and the National Costume Archive Project reached a major milestone – stage 1 is now available here on the LTFAI website.  This ambitious project has been underway for a number of years and has involved many dedicated volunteers, most importantly, photographer Aldona Rygelis and webmaster Sebastian Grinham.  The objective of the project was to produce a visual archive of Lithuanian national costumes that were woven by weavers in the diaspora.  Most of the weavers were trained by Anastazija and Antanas Tamošaitis, the founders of LTFAI.  The scope of the project was expanded to include national costumes that were woven in Lithuania prior to WWII.  This treasure trove of photographs will be added to the website in regular updates and will appeal to weavers and all members of the public with an interest in Lithuanian heritage. Future plans for LTFAI focus on specific areas.  Sub-committees have been formed to work on strategy, outreach, events and digital/website development.  The final item for the formal part of the meeting was the election of the Board of Directors for 2019:  Diana Wiese (President), Ramūnė Jonaitis  (Secretary), Sebastian Grinham (Webmaster), Aldona Rygelis (National Costume Project), Kristina Pavilanis, Birutė Batraks, Danguolė Breen (Members). The informal part of the meeting began with a presentation by artisan and author Donna Druchunas from Vermont, who introduced the participants to a specific trend in the knitting community – heritage knitting. Focusing on Lithuanian knitting, Donna shared her extensive knowledge of sources of wool from different regions in Lithuania and ancient knitting patterns and techniques.  More information is available in the many books Donna has written and also on her website www.sheeptoshawl.com.  The presentation was followed by a hands-on workshop which even drew interest from non-Lithuanian knitters anxious to develop their skills in this unique style of knitting.  DB

♦ An Easter egg painting (margučiai) workshop was held and Resurrection Parish on April 14th, led by Birute Batraks and Diana Wiese.

The Year in Review

Happy 2018 to all our members and friends! The months have flown by and once again we have a whole new year to look forward to.

2017 was quite busy – the first half consumed by planning and setting up the website, which was launched in May.  In late July the LTFAI participated in the Lithuanian Day Craft Fair in Ottawa, with a table displaying books, sash-weaving and other folk-art samples and pamphlets about our activities. Some of our members were there as vendors as well.

LTFAI Outreach – Ottawa Lithuanian Day, July, 2017
Treasurer Al Nakrošius, Secretary Ramune Jonaitis, Toronto Chair Birute Batraks  (Photo by Daiva Blynas)

After a brief summer break, the LTFAI Board returned to discussions and preparations for projects new and old. Work continues behind the scenes on the National Costume online archive. November brought the “SIŪLAS” project (see previous post) to the LMAC (Lithuanian Museum-Archives of Canada) in Mississauga, where the LTFAI displayed new banners, examples of books and folk art and most importantly – live demonstration of sash-weaving, presented by Julia Paliulis every Sunday.

The Toronto chapter of the LTFAI, headed by Birute Batraks, organized a “šiaudinukai” (straw Christmas tree ornament) workshop. Guest instructor Joana Adamonis from Montreal held two well-attended sessions on December 2.

The annual Toronto chapter Christmas Craft Fair was held at Resurrection Parish in Etobicoke on Dec. 10th, where seven vendors attracted Mass and Christmas Concert attendees from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.

We hope to put action plans for the New Year into play by month’s end, starting with a preliminary calendar. Top priorities will be the National Costume archive project, outreach and chapter coordination. Please feel free to send us your ideas and requests! It is our goal  to renew our organization’s  role as a creative and dynamic resource for Lithuanian folk art designers, artisans, friends and students.