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Bead artist Julia Yablonskaya
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My name is Julia Yablonskaya; since I can remember, I'm always drawn to the creativity. Even at school age, I learned to sew and decently "have dressed" myself from head to toe. In the late 80's it wasn't easy to buy interesting clothes in the shops, even though we lived in Tallinn in a more or less prosperous Soviet Estonia. But the choice of fabric was great, so I have sewed often creating dresses using one pattern, but different materials and colors.

Other types of crafts didn't initially attract me because it was possible to sew quickly, one evening - and the skirt is ready, but knitting or doing something like that seemed to me too long. I graduated from high school, and I had to continue my education somewhere. There was no clear preference; that meant I needed to be an actress! In Tallinn, performing arts education was nowhere to get, so the choice was Leningrad or Moscow, both are the centers of the world theatrical life. But Moscow was pretty far away and Leningrad was just a few hours by bus or train - almost next door!

I gave a call to LGITMiK (Leningrad State Institute of Theater, Music and Cinematography), learned what I needed to enter, quickly designed some new clothes and went to the Northern Capital. To say that I made a splash in style is to say nothing! Bright green lantern-shape skirt, blue blouse, white loafers, canary-yellow sweater, - I looked like a person from Central Africa. Star, in one word! Of course, the first time I didn't make success as, indeed, it didn't work the following year, too.

I fell in love with theater and didn't leave my dreams. I began to attend a drama school and went to work; first it was a sewing cooperative and then a small shop. So, I have worked, developed my sewing skills and prepared for the next attempt to enter to a theatrical college. My parents were hoping the theater was my temporary craze; my dad really wanted me to have a "real" profession. Education was free and my parents thought that I was going to change my mind and become a diplomat, for example, but such a career wasn't quite attractive for me.

Beadwork by Julia Yablonskaya
click to see gallery

In the third year, I decided to take a chance and go to Moscow. There were more theatrical colleges and the choice was better. After all my efforts were crowned with success, and I was enrolled to the Higher Theater School named after Boris Shchukin. I must say that by that time I learned how to create more relaxed clothes and stopped scaring selection committee with my appearance!

So, my artistic life began. For days we didn't get out from our Alma Mater, endlessly rehearsed, we were engaged day and night. I had no spare time and nevertheless I didn't give up sewing and sewed for all my friends and classmates. When after graduation I returned to my home and went to Tallinn Russian theater, that's when I discovered that during rehearsals, sometimes waiting for hours, you can perfectly fill that time with knitting!

While in the theater world there are some superstitions associated with knitting, after a while my example was contagious and many actresses started knitting. So, rehearsing the role of Eliza Doolittle in "Pygmalion: A Romance in Five Acts" play by George Bernard Shaw I knitted a long coat, and while working on the role of Katherina in "The Taming of the Shrew" play by William Shakespeare I created XXL-size sweater for my husband. The more roles to appear in my repertoire, the more knitted things I brought home!

Then it seemed to me a little to realize my creative itch, and I began taking art classes. Bulky oil appeared to be perfect for me and I started painting. I liked copying paintings by famous artists: Kramskoy, Aivazovsky; I even painted portraits from photographs. However, I never felt free in painting because of lack of a special education.

Beadwork by Julia Yablonskaya
click to see gallery

Another anniversary of the Russian Theater of Estonia was coming and again, of course, the question of a "little black dress" popped up. As to clothes, I could quickly resolve that problem but what to do with jewelry? I began browsing fashion magazines and came across a diamond necklace of incredible beauty on a Hollywood star. What to do? What can replace the diamonds to meet the family budget? And then it occurs to me a happy thought - beads! They are affordable and, most importantly, no less brilliant! No sooner said than done!

I bought a small book with basic techniques of weaving beaded chains in the nearest book store, quickly realized what to do, found somewhere Czech crystal beads, and - voila! Done! But then I didn't know what kind of world I got in, googling the word "beads" and surfing Internet I understood that I was gone completely!

I plunged into a world of incredible beauty, tutorials, patterns, and people with passion to bead. Beadworks of Sherry Serafini opened embroidery for me, and for a time it seemed that nothing could be better! I started to bead, and I was very fascinated. But then I saw free form weaving, and it was even better!

There are no boundaries for me in beadwork and nothing stops the flight of my imagination. If I have to learn a new technique for implementing any ideas, I find all the information on the Internet and do what I need. I find it very funny to mix different techniques - weaving and embroidery, peyote and herringbone stitches, etc. Unfortunately, it turned out that I cannot wear big necklaces that I like to design, but there is a considerable number of people willing to buy them.

Beadwork by Julia Yablonskaya
click to see gallery

By this time my "love affair" with the Russian Theater was safely over: the global financial crisis broke out, the work in Tallinn was impossible to find, and my family moved to Moscow. I decided not to go to theater and went to work in the movies. Of course, it is a different field of activity; and I again opened a new chapter in my life.

I couldn't even think that those are so different! Absolutely no stability, there is no guarantee that having finished one project you will be engaged in another, but there is no routine. All the time - new people, new roles. For five years in Moscow, I have starred in 25 movies and made a lot of friends. Of course, there are times when there is no shooting; this is when beads get my attention entirely! Beadwork perfectly helps distract from the complexities of the profession.

While I was living in Tallinn, I was not familiar with local bead artists; it was like I was the only beadweaver in the city. It changed when I moved to Moscow! When I first came to the Bead Design exhibition I was shocked because I've never seen such amazing beadworks live! I stopped in front of every display and could not look enough! And then my meetings with other artists started, which continue to this day.

Beadwork by Julia Yablonskaya
click to see gallery

I am very pleased to have the opportunity to visit all the exhibitions that take place here, and even participate in them! The most interesting is that now I know many fine artists working with beads in Tallinn. It turned out that there are also a lot of them and they also hold magnificent exhibitions. Every time I come to Tallinn I see my new friends; I bring them from Moscow bead magazines in Russian, and then take away some European bead novelties.

Over time every artist gets his favorite techniques. For me, this is free form beadweaving, which allows me to implement any, even crazy ideas. Last year I was so brave that I risked entering Fashion Colorworks Bead Contest with the necklace made in this technique. Although the necklace didn't make the final it won the special prize "Perlen Poesie Magazine Pick"; and I got a free subscription to the magazine.

So, my bead life goes on; I'm trying to catch the inspiration wherever possible: in travel, movies, even in the subway! And it seems to me that this is just the beginning of a long journey. It turned out that the beads go well with knitting and sewing; my painting classes were also not wasting time - the laws of composition have not been canceled! I've got many ideas and I collected sketches of my designs. Time, however, is not always enough, but when I get to the beads, nothing can stop me!

My gallery on

About author:

Julia Yablonskaya, Moscow, Russia
Filmography (in Russian)

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