“It’s not just a hobby. It’s my favorite job”: Woodcarver and blacksmith about their craft in Belarus

“It’s not just a hobby. It’s my favorite job”: Woodcarver and blacksmith about their craft in Belarus

There are about 23,500 registered craftsmen in Belarus. But there are certainly far more people who occupy themselves with it. The Presidential Decree on Crafts will simplify this activity that is necessary not only for people’s self-employment but also for attracting tourists to the country (as it was discussed with the ex-president of Iceland, it’s one of upcoming sectors in Belarus as well as in Iceland). Alena Syrova met with craftsmen, who told her about their passion.

Ivan Budich creates things with his bare hands. It’s been a long time since his hands became indifferent to thorns and cuts.

Ivan is a hereditary craftsman. His father still has a weakness for woodwork, his granny makes felt boots and billets come alive in his hands.

Ivan Budich, woodcarver:
A bear is my trademark that I like very much. I can create it in a week. It’s enough to fill up a power saw for 3 times to create a shape of this bear. You can dress him in a Belarusian shirt with all possible ornaments, so he looks like a true Belarusian.

He is known as Bear Maestro far beyond Belarus. But creating bears is not the craftsman's limit. His 3 meters' high works illustrate the boldest plots and found a home at the houses of Nursultan Nazarbaev and Lech Kaczyński. 

According to the craftsman, a recipe for success is international and very simple.

Ivan Budich:
I’m glad that I’m good at my craft. Yeah, sometimes I have troubles but then I come here and dive into work somehow. It’s my very small chimney-corner. There is so much idyll that it’s even possible to live here.

Ivan’s son inherited his knowledge and love of labor. Dmitry doesn’t only help his father and create his works but also actively promotes the family brand, although, now he does it only by word of mouth.

Dmitry Budich, woodcarver:
People love our work – it’s not machine work, it’s not from China, where everything is made on machines – we put a lot of soul in our works. Craftsman’s emotions are conveyed through wood. You can feel it.

Foreign buyers are often interested in exclusive works by the Budichs, but they have to refuse to execute even small orders.

Dmitry Budich:
There are some legal technicalities in working with foreigners, you need to prepare some documents. We have to turn to some companies to make everything correct.

Dmitry thinks that a possibility to sell craftsmen’s works on distance and to advertise them on the Internet will be good for the amount of orders, although it’s understandable that any change in law should stand the test of time.

Dmitry Budich:
Nothing worked for a long time first – you always need experience. Don’t be afraid to spoil something: wood is such a material that if you cut something then you can play it on, we have enough imagination for it.

Denis Oshchelkov, blacksmith:
There can be a trouble if you occasionally cut something while working with wood. You’ll need to stick something. When it comes to iron, you can anneal it.

This is the way Denis invites us to take place near his anvil and to make sure that you can learn everything. Where there’s a will, there’s a way. He is the brightest example of it. In his day he changed a shaker for a hammer. Today he has his own blacksmith’s shop and hundred works in his portfolio.

Denis Oshchelkov:
As a craftsman, I don’t fabricate fences or gates. Of course, it would be good if I could advertise my works. There would be motivation for producing something in bigger amounts and promoting myself.

Now he can promote himself only on fairs but Denis hopes that changes in a work of craftsmen will come and he will sell massive works right in his blacksmith’s shop.

Denis Oshchelkov:
Of course, it would be easier: you just need to give official prices. It’s a kind of a game, it’s sold anyway. If people could see the price, there would be no superfluous movements.

Seems that the most banal of all souvenirs is a symbol of happiness and fortune that certainly favors those for whom craft is not just a job but the life itself.

Denis Oshchelkov:
It’s not just a hobby – it’s my favorite job, it gives me not only pleasure but also helps me with money.

Ivan Budich:
Creative work is when you don’t think about money, you just create.

Dmitry Budich:
Many people ask questions: “How you can do anything with a billet?” Father answers: “This is a piece of billet that can be sawn up or you can stock fire with it. But we’ve got a billet and that’s how a sculpture or a work of art is created.”