Art Design

Iryna Kontar and the unique zoo from the mace reed

Weaving from stalks of mace reed is a traditional craft, although not very popular today. Many know that from the mace reed (cattails) we can wove purses, bast shoes, mats, a variety of household utensils, even chairs and armchairs.
Mace reed is a fairly common plant along the marshes and rivers. The popular name “reed” is more famous, though not quite right. Traditionally the plant stems are harvested for weaving in September-October.
Irina Kontar – a biologist-botanist by education, at one time defended her Ph.D. thesis and worked for a long time at the Institute of Botany of the Academy of Sciences of Ukraine. Now Iryna devoted herself entirely to weaving from mace reed. But her work does not look like other products. The fact is that initially Irina chose the leaves of cattails as the material for weaving, not stalks. But not all leaves are suitable for weaving, only two-year ones, which already have a sufficient length, but have not yet become too rigid. Leaves must be harvested in June-July, then dried. And before using for weaving, the plants are soaked for a while to soften. Thus, only the process of preparing the material is very laborious and time-consuming, which requires patience, and considerable physical work as well.
And then there is work on the products themselves. Irina makes unique animals from the leaves of the mace reed, as well as hay. These are three-dimensional products, some of them in full size. All her works un counted, but the assortment is very wide: buffaloes and giraffes, pelicans and owls, ostriches and wild boars, and fairy-tale animals, such as a lion with wings and a unicorn. Separately, we can distinguish the world of insects in the performance of Iryna, there are representatives of reptiles, even the head of tyrannosaurus.

Large items are very interesting, they are popular as garden and park sculptures. And small, souvenir works are bought up as very original decorative ornaments. Iryna has long lost count of her creations, and is very happy that the animals are leaving to please people. It is very nice to have a toy or a sculpture made of natural material in your house. First of all, these items are appreciated by children who play with pleasure, whether they are a horse, a frog, a dragonfly, an ant or some other animal.
Thus, the traditional craft of weaving from the mace reed got a new life, and the animals from the zoo of Irina diverge around the world. Today Iryna is the only one in Ukraine and the world that produces such handmade products. But she has helpers – this is a son and two daughters who take part in the procurement of raw materials.
By nature, Iryna is a smiling person, so her beasts also carry a positive mood and bring luck to their owners.

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