Springing Forward!

♦ Spring is finally here, friends of Lithuanian folk art! With it comes our Annual General Meeting, which will be held on Saturday, May 4, at the Lithuanian Museum-Archives of Canada (2185 Stavebank Rd., Mississauga, ON, L5C 1T3 – also known as Anapilis). The meeting will begin at 1 p.m., to be followed by a presentation and workshop on Lithuanian Knitting (specifically traditional wristlets or riešinės) by Donna Druchunas, well-known to many knitters from her online presence, her website https://sheeptoshawl.com and several published books. These will be available for purchase, as well as $10 kits for the workshop. See details below.

Donna Druchunas (left) in Vilnius

♦ Riešinės (Wristlet, Wrist-warmer) Workshop. Our presenter, Donna Druchunas, tells us that knowing just the basics of knitting, you can easily create colourful designs in the wristlets with beads. Using only garter stitch and learning how to read and work from beading charts, in this workshop, we will make beautiful jeweled wrist warmer cuffs that are inspired by those popular in Lithuania. In 19th century Lithuania, homespun yarn was used for everyday knitting, but special, high-quality wool yarn was purchased to use for the showy wrist warmers worn on holidays and other festive occasions. Imported Czech beads, usually white but sometimes in other colors as well, were used for decoration. During the 20th century, beads were harder to obtain; some were imported from Poland, and it is likely that resourceful knitters reused the beads from old, fraying wrist warmers to embellish new ones. Although beaded wrist warmers are also knitted in many northern European countries, including Norway and Greenland, Lithuanian ones are distinguished by their asymmetrical patterns. Even if the motif itself is symmetrical, the design is placed off center, with the beaded area near the hand and the remainder to be covered by a long sleeve, unadorned. Many motifs are entirely asymmetrical, including the floral designs that are seen not only on riešinės, but also on Lithuanian colourwork mittens and gloves. Materials list for those who wish to bring their own supplies: 1 skein of fingering-weight wool yarn in a medium or dark color; 2.25 mm (US size 1) knitting needles (straight or circular); 6 grams of size 8/0 seed beads (about 200 beads). Kits (cost $10) will include yarn and beads. Needles will also be available for sale if needed. The workshop will cost $20 for members, and $25 for non-members. Please register for the workshop by April 29 at gro.i1558868322aftl@1558868322tcatn1558868322oc1558868322. Members and guests may stay for the lecture (which is free) and not participate in the workshop.

♦ We urge you to attend the AGM to reinforce our organization with your presence, your interests and your ideas, and support the work being done by the Board. Come and find out about the progress of the National Costume Archive, the website, and other activities. Most recently, we have added a Knitting section to the website, with the invaluable input from AGM guest speaker Donna Druchunas of Vermont.

♦ Also at the AGM we will have elections! The Board is up for re-election, so come and decide who will be doing what! Pay your annual fee and vote! Or volunteer! The position of Treasurer is open, and we look forward to seeing a “numbers“ person, preferably with some knowledge of Excel, to jump in and keep our (fairly simple and straightforward) financial records up to date. We are also setting up some sub-committees to help us widen our activities and perspectives, so you may want to join one for short- or longer-term projects. Please RSVP regarding your attendance at gro.i1558868322aftl@1558868322tcatn1558868322oc1558868322 or send your proxy (will be sent to you with AGM details by email or post).

♦ A folk art show and sale is being planned for the Spring Cemetery Visitation Day at Anapilis, Mississauga, Ontario, on June 2, 2019. Toronto chapter chair Birute Batraks is accepting applications and inquiries by email: moc.l1558868322iamto1558868322h@ska1558868322rtabm1558868322.

♦ Feel free to send us your opinions and experiences, questions or information  about your interests and activities in the area of Lithuanian folk art at any time. Your input can lead us in new directions! An interesting example was a query from a Canadian of Lithuanian descent who is renovating her kitchen and wants to bring some Lithuanian folk art into her wall and floor tiles. While the tiles themselves are not typically available or traditional in our folk art, adaptations are possible. For example, as a result of this inquiry, mosaic floor or wall panels designed with Lithuanian motifs are now being developed. For any information please write to gro.i1558868322aftl@1558868322tcatn1558868322oc1558868322.

A New Year for Folk Art

LTFAI NEWS – Winter 2018-2019

◊ New Year‘s greetings from the Lithuanian Folk Art Institute (LTFAI) Board of Directors! January has already slipped by, which is a good thing, as it‘s been quite cold in Toronto, but we are not hibernating. Our monthly telephone conferences continue, as we discuss updates,  projects and activities.

◊ Work continues on the online National Costume Archive Project. We are ever closer to launching at least a dozen costume photos with details large and small. Introductory articles and a glossary are being polished, and site navigation is being fine-tuned. We deeply appreciate the ongoing work being done by Aldona Rygelis, Algis Norvila and Sebastian Grinham. This is a truly complex endeavour which requires great attention to detail and countless hours of work. We would like to present the project in its final form, rather than launch an imperfect version which we would have to continue revising after it is live.

◊ The LTFAI Annual General Meeting will take place in Toronto on Saturday, May 4, with a Board meeting in the morning, and the AGM at 1 p.m. in the afternoon, followed by a presentation by guest speaker Donna Druchunas, author and knitter extraordinaire who has published many books, among which is a seminal work on traditional Lithuanian folk knitting. She will also conduct a workshop on knitting wristlets – “riešinės“. Please save the date and plan to participate! Toronto is lovely in May, and we welcome all and any of you who have an interest in Lithuanian Folk Art, even if you are not a current practitioner. We need your ideas and your presence to make our organization dynamic once again. Email us at gro.i1558868322aftl@1558868322ofni1558868322.

◊ 2019 – Year of Outreach! We are planning several outreach efforts through Lithuanian communities and organizations throughout North America. Please continue to visit our beautiful website https://ltfai.org, and send us your photos, notes and ideas on folk art that you create, would like to create or know about. The website will be under review this year, and we welcome your input regarding additional content as well as other areas and activities that are not yet represented here.

Future Plans. The Board is currently refining plans for the digitization of archival films about Antanas Tamošaitis, as well as photos and other historical material in the archive. Dr. Kristina Pavilanytė-Gaputienė is planning to create a presentation on sash-weaving. Diana Bubulytė-Wiese‘s interesting presentation on amber from the 2018 AGM will be made available on the website. The LTFAI archive is now housed at Anapilis, in Mississauga, Ontario, in plastic bins which secretary Ramune Jonaitiene will be sorting this year prior to digitization. Also estimates are being requested for digitization of the books published by and about Antanas and Anastazija Tamošaitis – National Costume, Sashes, Easter Eggs, Anastazija Tamošaitienė, as well as the Institute itself – Lietuvių tautodailės institutas.

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!

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.i1558868322aftl@1558868322tcatn1558868322oc1558868322 or Birute at moc.l1558868322iamto1558868322h@ska1558868322rtabm1558868322.



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.oo1558868322hay@s1558868322inali1558868322vapc1558868322.

◊  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.l1558868322iamto1558868322h@ska1558868322rtabm1558868322.

◊  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.a1558868322gnire1558868322n@ana1558868322d1558868322.

◊  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!

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.


SIŪLAS Exhibition at Lithuanian Museum-Archives of Canada

Lithuanian Museum-Archives of Canada

Our new exhibition: “Siūlas/Thread” is our contribution to the 2017 Year of the National Costume celebrations in Lithuania.  Come and see how two fundamental components – raw linen and wool, are transformed into articles full of artistic interpretation and adapted to daily life from early days to modern-day creations.

Juosta/sash weaving demonstrations will be given on Sundays.

Works on display by:

  • 19th/early 20th century homestead artisans
  • Folk artists from the Displaced Persons camps in post WWII Germany
  • Anastazija and Antanas Tamošaičiai – founders of the Lithuanian Folk Art Institute of the Diaspora,
  • members of LT Folk Art Institute,
  • Calgary artist – Elytė Balkytė-Zubis,
  • Toronto designer Akvilė Minkevičienė, and,
  • contemporary fashion designers from Lithuania (slide show).


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

2017 is the year of the National Costume in Lithuania!

The LFAI is delighted to participate in this celebration by launching its new website and making significant progress on creating a photo archive of national costumes woven in the diaspora.

The goal of the year of the National Costume as declared by the Ministry of Culture of Lithuania (lrkm.lrv.lt/lt/nuorodos/tautinio-kostiumo-metai) is to renew interest in this, the most unique and beautiful expression of our ethnic culture.

Various conferences, exhibitions, and seminars are planned at various museums and galleries in Lithuania. Toward the end of the year, there will be a conference and display of the A.A. Tamošaitis collection of 19th and 20th century woven fabric, sashes and folk costumes at the Vilnius Academy of Art. There will also a National Costume competition  and a website www.lnkc.lt is underway.

Lithuania‘s Ministry of Culture has posted a complete programme on its website lrkm.lrv.lt/lt/nuorodos/tautinio-kostiumo-metai. Search Tautinio Kostiumo Metai for more information.

This is also the year of HILLFORTS (piliakalniai) as declared by the Ethnic Culture Security Council. Additional information on this and other projects is available on the Lithuanian ethnographic site alkas.lt