Yavoriv, a settlement in Hutsulshchyna region, has always been famous for the beautiful works of its artisans; decorated Easter eggs (pysankas), embroidery and woodwork are widespread here. However, there’s something else makes Yavoriv such a special place: the art of making lizhnyks – woolen blankets, normally with a pattern and fluffy texture on one or both sides, also known as “hutsulian blankets”. Lizhnyks are very common in everyday life, used to soften beds or benches, and for extra warmth in the wintertime. They’re warm and attractive, but most importantly, their natural material, pure wool, is good for your health, massaging the skin and encouraging good blood flow – although it can be itchy at times.
Throughout Ukraine there are many different fields of dreams with thousand of players. A vast majority of these players go through life without much fanfare. The players I speak are folk artisans that come from every nook and cranny of Ukraine. They are an interesting breed. Often time they appear to lack any enthusiasm whatsoever when selling their hand made products.
Nonetheless, there are artisans that are very talkative and like the idea of having their products for sale in America. One such folk artist is from the village of Petrykivka which is in the heartland of Ukraine. Lyubov Artyomenko carries on the tradition of Petrykivka Folk Art that was started around 1772 (four years before the United States gained its independence), in the Cossack settlement of Petrykivka.
She explained how the style was first developed by the women of the village. After they had whitewashed the outside of their homes, the women would paint bold beautiful colorful floral designs on the outside walls. It became a contest to see which woman could come up with the most beautiful patterns. Later these same styles were being used on all kinds of items like household goods (spoons, trays, chests, plates). Decorating-With-Ukrainian-Folk-Art-Collectibles
Lyubov said all Petrykivka Folk Art is about nature – mostly flowers, berries and birds. However, the birds she paints are different from other folk artists. Her birds are like seeing a painted dream. She uses her fingers to paint flowers and berries. In order to paint the very delicate and detailed feathers and bodies of her birds she uses special kitty fur brushes made from the hair under the front legs of her cat (no her cat doesn’t suffer during this procedure because her cat’s hair grows back, rendering her Petrykivka Folk Art sustainable and ultra Green!).
You can see her works on sale at Ukrainian Petrykivka Art. Her extraordinary Petrykivka home accents will give any kitchen a bright beautiful and bold organic natural lifestyle look.
Lyubov told us an interesting story about the symbolism of the painted Petrykivka mortar and pestle she had on sale. It represents a happy family life and the two have to be kept together because they symbolize the nature of husband and wife. These two pieces are now a keepsake of ours.
My reason to visit Ukraine was personal back in the late fall of 2003. It was fitting that I ended my trip by visiting the outdoor museum of Pyrogovo in Kyiv to get a glimpse into Ukraine’s past and a vision into my future.
It was a cool overcast day. The night before a light dusting of snow fell and the roofs of the museum buildings glistened with their soft coats of white. There was a sense of sadness this particular morning because I would soon be flying back to my home in Montana, leaving the lady I had corresponded with on a daily basis for 4 years behind. We felt comfortable with each other and we both knew the 4 years getting to know each other was well spent. However, the lady was having doubts whether I would ever return.
We walked hand in hand and stopped frequently to take pictures. It was very peaceful as we strolled through the different historic buildings and she told me about the different trappings of eras gone by. It made me think about my parents, who had farmed using horses and similar tools before they could afforded to modernize.
The houses and other buildings reminded me of how life on the prairie may have been for the early settlers, who came from all over Europe, to put down roots in the new world.
As we walked I reminisced about taking my parents on their first vacation after 40 years of marriage back to the Midwest where they were born and raised. It was on this trip back in the late 1970’s I saw my first house made of sod. The house was build in the 19th Century and was still being lived in by a relative back in Western Nebraska.
There was something about the atmosphere of Pyrogovo that attached itself to my heart, mind, and soul. It was as though I was Don Quixote coming to joust with the windmills that dotted the beautiful pastoral landscape to win the hand of the maiden he came to see.