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Souvenir magnets from Belarus: creation process

Souvenir magnets from Belarus
Souvenir magnets from Belarus
Souvenir magnets from Belarus
Souvenir magnets from Belarus
Souvenir magnets from Belarus
Souvenir magnets from Belarus
Souvenir magnets from Belarus

The tourist season is time to think about souvenirs. When we don’t have enough time for choosing, we buy magnets.

This kind of souvenirs appeared only 15 years ago. And nowadays, many have at least one magnet on their refrigerators. A good Belarusian magnet is not only the image of Belarus’ picturesque landscapes and architectural monuments, but also hand work.

Everybody knows how difficult it is to find a unique magnet among numerous Chinese cookie-cutter molds. Minsk, contrariwise, can be proud of its craftsmen.

The capital, both new and old, is implemented in fairy tale sketches on glass, wood and even in travel cases. Natural materials and unique technique guarantee success.

Yelena Spiridonova, head of a gallery, art historian:
All travelers understand that we adore bringing gifts from other countries, but we don’t like big ones, which is why a magnet is an ideal variant. It may be given to a sister, a brother, a colleague or whoever else. It is a great souvenir. The entry gates built after World War II are the symbol of Minsk. Being on a magnet, the tower clock represents Minsk from modern, beautiful, and esthetic side. And, of course, we have magnets in the form of our money. Tourists often ask where our “squirrels” and “hares” are (named through the animals printed on the banknotes). We answer that those banknotes passed into oblivion long ago.

Peculiar leather magnets made by Anatoly Zelberg help to save memories about the National Art Museum of the Republic of Belarus.

Chinese tourists adore wooden carved magnets; Italians appreciate flax souvenirs, Slavs like ceramic folk characters and the city’s panoramas. However, there are magnets that everyone likes. It is the series with Belarusian national cuisine recipes.

The magnets with vyshivanka (embroidery with Belarusian national ornament) and the ornament description are also popular.

Yelena Spiridonova, head of a gallery, art historian:
The Belarusian shirt is painted on birch bark. These magnets are funny and nice. It suits those who don’t want to have at home something too official. And this magnet is entirely made of wood.

It always smells of natural wood in Emma Plotnikova’s flat. Her landscapes of the Trinity Hill and the Holy Spirit Cathedral resemble little scrolls.

She discovered birch bark painting 12 years ago. She used to draw and carve wood before this. There are spring trills, Belarusian villages and the main Minsk’s places on her magnets. Though birch bark painting has been known in Rus since the XV century, it is difficult to meet such art nowadays.

Emma Plotnikova, artist:
Nature’s shapes give stories themselves. If bark is uneven, a house or a mill cries out to be painted. If it’s solid, the city’s landscapes or animals are drawn. I find bulgy knobby bark the most beautiful. I remove bark from old fallen birches that become dark after the long time spent in wet moss. Minsk is a clean new town. Unfortunately, there are only few old buildings here. I like the Trinity Hill, Internatsionalnaya Street, and the embankment with the Holly Spirit Cathedral. I find it also beautiful.

The creating of such a magnet is not a simple process. It includes different actions, from material search and bark cleaning to treatment, edges burning, and dainty painting. Emma Plotnikova revives nature’s monochromatic colors with tempera. Emma comes from Polesye in south Belarus, but more than 30 years she lives in Minsk and paints its beauty.

Birch papyrus inspires for new magnets that find their houses in different countries from Italy to Cuba. Famous birch bark manuscripts are in a good state even after thousands of years. Belarusian souvenirs will make people glad for a long time.

Emma Plotnikova, artist:
People often don’t believe it’s handwork and think it is a stamp. After they look at it attentively and I explain how it is made, they wonder how much efforts are put in every little magnet.

Oleg Illarionov creates adorable ceramic ethno world.

The master admits that a good souvenir is, first of all, a mirror of Belarusian traditions and culture.

Oleg’s art is a new view on folklore. He has created more than 1.5 million souvenirs for 20 years.

Oleg Illarionov, artist:
I try to discover Belarusian mentality, image, and soul in order to attract foreign buyers to Belarusian history, land, people, and traditions.

Modeling, casting, and painting are made manually. Masters laboriously study Belarusian culture and national ornaments. The tourists like also magnets in shape of bells, which are to protect houses.

Oleg Illarionov collaborates with the Stalin Line museum and the Olympic Centre Ratomka. The artist creates original thematic magnets.

Yelena Spiridonova, head of the gallery, art historian:
All the materials typical of Belarusian applied art are used for magnets creating. I would like to see more glass magnets. It looks modern. Also, I have an interesting idea to place a small photo into a magnet. It can be Minsk’s panorama with your photo. It will claim “I am in Minsk”. It’s a nice idea, but it has not been implemented yet.

Souvenirs are Belarusian brand. The more talented works Belarus has, the warmer opinion it has abroad.

Souvenir magnets from Belarus