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The fair and exhibition activity is one of the most important instruments of beadwork promotion in Russia, especially nowadays, when interests in crafts, folk art and ethnic culture is on the increase not only among the Russian people seeking their "roots" after the Soviet Union collapsed, but among other ethnic groups of the former USSR.
Although bead weaving or threaded beadwork in Russia has a long history, there was time when it almost turned into a forgotten craft in the last century. The renaissance of the "lost" bead craft in Russia started about ten years ago partly thanks to "Wonderful Moments of Beading" magazine ("Chudesnye Mgnoveniya") and the "Fashion Beadwork" magazine ("Modny Biser"), which have been doing their best to popularize beadwork in Russia again. A number of wonderful beading books published over the last ten years also spur interest in that craft. The Internet united Russian speaking beaders from all over the world into a huge informal virtual association, it is now much easier to see what fellow beaders are working on, listen in on the latest buzz, find inspiration for the own upcoming projects and etc..
"New Wave" beadworkers are eager to share the design ideas, participate in the shows and receive the first invaluable experience of exhibiting. Thanks to the Russian Glass & Glazing Association ("StekloSoyuz") and the Ministry of Culture of the Russian Federation for holding and supporting, the First International fashion accessories, home decor and beaded jewelry exhibition fair, Glass Bead Expo 2008 ("StekloBiserExpo-2008") took place in Moscow on December 10-12, 2008. The exhibition was based on the idea to gather bead artists, experienced beaded jewelry designers and talented beginning jewelry makers, as well, under one roof within a common exhibition space and provide them all with a unique chance to share their brilliant ideas with each other, and get an overall view on most recent trends in beaded jewelry making. More than 45 exhibitors from Russia, near and far abroad, including Ukraine, Belarus, Greece, Finland and the US participated in "StekloBiserExpo-2008".
Among the artists who have taken part in the exhibition were such talented Russian beaded jewelry designers and makers as: Elena Vilchevskaya, Galina Pchelkina, Natalia Busheva, Olga Makhonova, Galina Grebenschikova, Elena Barsukova-Graphkina, Alla Maslennikova, Nella Moskvicheva, Natalia Berezovskaya, Olga Boltenkova, known beaders from Moscow, Nizhny Novgorod, Samara, Belgorod, Rostov-on-Don and other places. "StekloBiserExpo-2008" became a really true festival for both visitors and participants, as they were able to see wearable and non-wearable artworks, meet the artists working in various techniques, and have long chats. All genres of bead weaving were on display: beaded paintings, beaded Russian icons and Easter eggs, beaded trees, flowers, sculptures and toys, and beaded jewelry, of course.
As a jewelry designer, first of all I focused my interest on techniques, Russian bead jewelry makers use for their creations. It is obviously true that the most popular technique is the right-angle weave in all its variations. One of the major highlights was a display of jewelry pieces designed by Galina Grebenschikova. Most of her necklaces are made using cubic or three-dimensional RAW. Galina's jewelry reflects her great love for gems and semiprecious stones, especially for fluoride, jasper, agate and eudialyte. Galina strongly believes that those minerals have special magic meanings and properties; and in order to emphasize that she uses smooth Czech seed beads for her jewelry. Galina's exquisite jewelry necklaces and other pieces are extremely popular. Galina Grebeschikova in collaboration with Olga Lizunova, Svetlana Serebryakova, Galina Borovaya and Olga Vetrova has recently started a nonprofit partnership "Freelance Artisans" to promote haute couture beaded jewelry.
Alla Maslennikova's jewelry collection "The fragments of Sanguine Hopes" including three necklaces also made using cubic RAW with rough crystals of citrine, rose quartz and aquamarine, won all hearts. Japanese size 15/0 pastel color seed beads dignify the gemstones and affect a delicate look of each neckpiece. Both, Galina Grebeschikova and Alla Maslennikova were announced the winners in the Beaded Jewelry category. I'm sure, if only the judges hadn't felt limited, they would have awarded much more bead artists including Natalia Bessonova (Moscow), who is converting antique Russian lace patterns into gorgeous art neckpieces. They look so noble, even royal, I should say!
Galina Kolmogorova's (was featured in the September's, 2008 newsletter) magnificent jewelry made using three-dimensional RAW attracted visitors' attention, too. Her bracelets and necklaces are very smart and stunning at the same time! Galina (Greece) is a promising party jewelry designer!
"Russian leaf" design is next in favor, as it is originally Russian beadweaving technique, that allows creating very popular in the country sweet floral motif jewelry pieces such as brooches, hairpins and necklaces. "Russian leaf" technique is the most favorite one for Victoria Katamashvili from Nizhny Novgorod. Her "Fleur-de-lis" necklace is a real eye candy. Nicely shaped flowers made with Czech cut beads designed into the elegant necklace immediately capture the hearts. Victoria's "Rose" necklace shows a classical example of floral jewelry incorporating "Russian leaf" design. A few more bead artists exhibited jewelry with Russian leaves: Svetlana Serebryakova, Olga Vetrova, Galina Pchelkina and Galina Bursuk. Actually the jewelry designers used multiple techniques in each of their pieces, taking advantage of the different capabilities inherent in each stitch. That's why all of them are unique and one-of-a-kind.
Olga Barannikova from Samara, Russia, and I (Svetlana Eltsova, Lahti, Finland) exhibited seasonal or botanical jewelry collections. Feeling inspired by the beauty of flowers and plants growing in the area, where we live, we are trying to translate local flora images in our mind to beaded pieces for the neck or wrists... and we succeed. I expected to see more netted necklaces at the exhibition, as bead netting has always been popular among Russian beadworkers. But it seems to me that ethnic theme art netting has fallen into the shade. The beaders are crossing cultural barriers to evolve new art forms as Olga Kuzmina, whose netted necklaces embellished with so called "fur/moss" stitch look like luxurious fox collars. Olga Makhonova's netted necklaces remind more garden beds full of "bead grown" roses. And her "Pansies" necklace is just a stunner. Galina Pchelkina's netted neckpieces enriched with glass beads and gemstone chips have a vintage look. They are trendy, fashionable and look great with formal and casual clothes alike.
Bead embroidery is a new trend in Russian beadwork. It is the most expensive, but most satisfying method of creating beaded accessories and jewelry. That kind of creations, as a rule, show the fullest potential of a beadworker. Bead embroidery items were represented at exhibition by Nella Moskicheva, Olga Shumilova, Gusel Bakeeva, Natalia Vysokinskaya and some other bead artisans.
Nella Moskvicheva's bead embroidered necklaces are rich decorated with gems and gemstone beads, but they don't look overloaded, on the contrary, they are well-rounded and nicely balanced. She is a born artist, who is very sensitive to beauty and spirit of precious and semiprecious stones and knows exactly how to emphasize their power. Olga Shumilova's bead-embroidered "Monstera" five leaf necklace is out of write! The leaves embroidered with snow white top quality Japanese seed beads don't loose their tropical look. The necklace design itself is a great success! My best congratulations to Olga!
Gusel Bakeeva's (was featured in the May's, 2008 newsletter) bead embroidered free-form necklaces and handbags reflect her rich imagination and sense of color. She is a brave bead artist ready to experiment with materials and shapes in design. I'd also like to especially mention Natalia Vysokinskaya, who is searching her own way in beading. The necklace "Narian-Mar" exhibited in Moscow was her fist experience in bead embroidery. Seed beads, green-brown unakite gem beads in combination with mink fur gave an overwhelmingly nice result. Very well done!
Another innovation I'd like to focus on is beaded beads jewelry. Svetlana Rogatykh, Olga Boltenkova and Olga Lizunova are fond of beading beaded beads - what a nice tautology! - but everyone in her own way. Svetlana Rogatykh likes more sculptural peyote patterned beads. Olga Boltenkova embellishes cubic RAW beads, and Olga Lizunova creates bead crochet beads.Beaded bead jewelry is getting more and more popular in Russia, it's beautiful and individual.
I was lucky to meet some talented jewelry designers such as Natalia Busheva, Anna Dekhtyaryova, Galina Pchelkina and have friendly gentle heart-to-heart talks with them. Natalia Busheva is a garment designer by profession. She is interested in all the crafts related to clothes making, especially in those, which give the dress a charming tinge. In 2001 she directed her eyes to beading and since then Natalia can not imagine her life without tiny shiny glass seed beads. "It is such a pleasure to create a pretty looking piece of jewelry from loose beads!" - she always says. Her favorite beading technique is peyote stitch, Natalia confessed to me. She adores gem and semiprecious stones, in particular, jade, chalchuite (synonym of turquoise) and carnelian. The gemstone is always in focus in Natalia's jewelry. She says, that beauty of the stones awake her creative fantasy and view of a future necklace or a pendant in her imagination; one of the best samlpes of that is her necklace "Blue Eye".
Anna Dekhtyaryova has been beading since she was 15. Her first creations were simple baubles and wrist bands, which are still popular among teenagers. Nowadays Anna is a widely recognized free-form jewelry designer. You can see her jewelry pieces on the covers of all beader's magazines. Most of Anna's jewelry is a mixture of peyote and brick stitches incorporating glass beads, cabochons and metal pieces. Not long ago Anna conceived a passion for beaded mini-sculptures and is eager to develop her skills along this avenue. She is full of brilliant ideas and I am sure she will exhibit her new sculptural collection very soon.
When I asked Galina Pchelkina a question, when she started beading, her answer just surprised me. She has already been making beadwork for more than 25 years!!! At the age of 12 she paid attention to an article about beaded chains in the "Young Technician" magazine ("Yuny Technik"). That article was decisive of her fate. At the beginning it was only a hobby for her, but later, when Galina realized her addiction to beading, she graduated from the Arts and Crafts College to become a professional jewelry designer. She likes doing beadwork in all its variety from folk art gerdans (loomed necklaces) to the traditional beaded jewelry. Galina is leading an active life style: writing articles on jewelry making, teaching workshops and managing local bead design exhibitions. She is the eternal head of Moscow beadworker's club and an editor of the "Wonderful Moments of Beading" magazine ("Chudesnye Mgnoveniya").
Beaded Easter eggs are among the amenities of contemporary Russian beadwork. An egg was deemed source of life everlasting by many ancient people including Slavs. That's why there were always lots of visitors in front of Elena Barsukova-Graphkina, Elena Kazimirova, Lyubov Mitina and Natalia Shnitser's show cases giving the beaded eggs an admiring glance, free-hearted complimenting the beadworkers and intensively asking them the "How-to" questions.
Natalia Shnitser's icon-eggs encrusted with Swarovski crystals, Czech size 15/0 seed beads, truntsal (golden or silver purl) and semiprecious gemstones look like museum treasure. Natalia, 36 years old, living in town of Krasnoznamensk (Moscow region) with her husband and three sons, is of opinion, that her love to beadwork is something like "Unexpected joy" and "Gift of God". It happened 4 years ago, when she suddenly got yearning to create bead mosaic icon-eggs. Later with priest blessing she tried to encrust wooden icons. She has the great feeling of delight each time she mosaics icons with the image of Holy Virgin Mary Theotokos.
Elena Barsukova-Graphkina's egg collection "The Vernacular Arts of Russia" is nonsuch. Dymkovo or Vyatka toys (painted clay figures of people and animals), Gorodez' painting, Rostov finift (Russian enameling style), Gzhel porcelain, Hohloma painting and some other national arty-crafty works look very pretty on the off-loomed beaded eggs. Elena Barsukova-Graphkina started beading in 2000 after she had visited the Kizhi State Open-air Museum of History, Architecture and Ethnography and seen local Kizhi beadworks. She was deeply smitten with the beauty of the beaded things and decided to learn that craft. It wasn't an uncomfortable start for her as she could sew, knit and crochet very well by that time. She knew exactly that she wanted bead paintings, but not bead stitched on canvas ones, as it was so popular in 19th century. All Elena's nice paintings and Easter eggs are made using off-loom square stitch technique. Sculptured surface of an egg calls for imagination. Elena's fantasy is unlimited! Her beaded sculpture eggs collection includes crown jewels, fancy flowers, even a coquettish woman's head... Her beadwork is often featured on covers of all Russian beadwork magazines.
Bead paintings by Svetlana Nebolsina (Krasnoznamensk town in Moscow region) are very nice and worth being exhibited in the best art galleries, they are a real artworks. French beaded flowers were another hit beadwork represented. Alexander Kramarenko, Elena Bashkatova (was featured in the January's, 2008 newsletter) and Veronika Moiseeva are born florists. Their wire and beaded flower bouquets stirred my emotions, inspired me and captured the spirit of the moment. I believe nobody was indifferent watching amazing beaded mini-sculptures by Tatiana Mankova (Rostov-on-Don). There were ohs and ahs of delight, each time visitors came up to the show case with beaded bottles and jewelry collection exhibited by Natalia Berezovskaya (was featured in the February's, 2008 newsletter). Those are magnificent!
I listed just a few artisans and I must say, that Elena Vilchevskaya, Marina Dukhan, Alla Popova, Valentina Nikolaeva, Elena Brovko, Jana Kallas, Maria Tarasova, Elena Solovjeva, Tatiana Vlasova, Tamara Vyatkina, Natalia Pechenkina and a number of other participants exhibited beadwork worth mentioning and making flattering remaks aboutit. But you understand, that it is impossible to do in one article.
It is time me to wound up my report about Moscow exhibition. I feel important and proud of being one of the participants. The bead show was full of creativity in the air. I came back home inspired and that is the main thing for me!!!! Finishing my article I'd like to say special "Thank You" to the curator of the exhibition Olga Boltenkova, who did so much, that the exhibition was a success. I am full of hope that we all meet next year to show our beadwork and share our experience again.
In addition to that, I'd like to say, that the photos put into the virtual galleries were taken by Ilia Ivanushkin, Oleg Fyodorov, Elena Brovko, Veronika Moiseeva and Svetlana Eltsova. A few pictures were taken by beadworkers themselves. Natalia Busheva's beadwork pictures were taken by Andrei Vasiliev / "Wonderful Moments of Beading" N 4(38)/2006. Thanks a lot to all of them!
Svetlana Eltsova, born Russian spent her childhood in the deep Ural country side next to Tyumen town, the main Siberian oil region center. She graduated from Sverdlovsk (now Yekaterinburg) Pedagogical Institute with MS in German and English languages. Svetlana has been beading for more than 7 years, her favorite theme is seasonal or botanical (floral) beadwoven jewelry. Now Svetlana Eltsova lives in Lahti, Finland; since 2007 she has been a member of the Beadworkers Guild (UK).
Pictures from Glass Bead Expo 2008:
|Jewelry by Freelance Artisans members||Wearable bead art gallery|
|Beadart by Elena Barsukova-Graphkina||Non-wearable bead art gallery|
|Beadwork jewelry by Anna Dekhtyaryova||Beaded beads jewelry items|