Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Folk art - Weaving

Country women would spin yarn and weave all the material they required for garments and furnishing.  Plain linen was used for sheets, pillow cases, underwear and towels.  More complex patterned weaves were used for towels and table cloths.  Brighter coloured material in several colours were made for women’s clothes, bed spreads, rugs etc. 

Sashes were also woven, given as gifts and commonly worn.  There are distinct regional patterns from the stylised tulips and stars of Lithuanian Minor to the checks and stripes of Dzukija.

Knitwear consisted mainly of gloves and stockings shawls and sweaters.  Knitwear designs were selected from the patterns used in weaving.

The majority of patterns on white linen cloth are based on ancient geometrical ornaments which symbolize the sun and other natural objects. 

A lot of attention was paid to colours. Striped or checked bedspreads do not have many colours, usually two, three or four.  Dominating colour combinations are black, green and red; green, white and red; black and red.

Janina Maželis
Born in Kaunas in 1912.  Janina enrolled in the University of Vytautas the Great to study medicine.  She married Antanas Maželis a law student.  They both graduated in 1938.  The second world war forced them to flee their country with two young daughters.  In 1947 the Maželis family migrated to Australia and settled in Adelaide.  Janina worked as a laboratory assistant at the Queen Elizabeth hospital until her retirement in 1977. 
Weaving began as a hobby, a way of showing allegiance to old Lithuanian traditions.  Fine wool and cotton was used to create stunning woven sashes.  

In the mid 1970’s Janina turned her artistic talents to pottery.  Attending private classes taught by fellow Lithuanian Vilija Dunda, then furthered her interest with Adult Education classes at Thebarton.  From 1978 to 1981 she studied pottery at classes held at Flinders University. 

The Festival of Arts in Adelaide, South Australia, 1962. The Minister for Immigration (Mr Downer) discusses weaving with Janina Maželis, during a demonstration which she gave as part of the migrant Arts and Crafts.

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