Archive for July 2010

Folk Artistry in Romania

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Traditional Romanian Eggs
Traditional Romanian Eggs

Although there are talented fine artists from Romania, the real interest is in folk art created by Romanian peasants. This folk art reveals optimism about the world and a zest for life that is even apparent in their grave markers that are both colorful and unique. This is no more evident than in Sapanta “Merry Cemetery”, situated in Northern Romania. Here you will find beautifully embellished wooden crosses marking the graves. These crosses are traditionally painted blue and some of the embellishments include sentiments about the deceased and tales of their lives.

Artisan villages

This is not an uncommon occurrence all over the world and it can be found in Romania too. Artists and artisans congregate, forming artist communities, in areas that offer aesthetic inspiration as well as economical viability. A few of the larger towns, including Bucharest, offer galleries where this folk artistry can be viewed and purchased. Select examples of the work of local artists can be found in a few smaller town museums. However, it is in the street markets near large tourist attractions that most of these artists can be found pedaling their wares.

Ceramic Artistry

Pottery has indeed been an integral part of the history of the entire world and still forms a large part of the everyday lives of Romanian artisans. Many of these artisans still make use of the old traditional method of using a kick-wheel to create their ceramic artworks. The various shapes, sizes and patterning of the ceramic pottery reflect the cultural diversity in some areas where they are made. There are as many as 30 pottery centers across Romania; each one has its own distinctive style.

Painting eggs

Painted eggs are a cheerful Romanian tradition that is especially prevalent around Easter time. This is one of the most well-known and easily recognizable examples of Romanian folk artistry and makes fantastic souvenirs. Romanians paint real, hollowed out eggs and these eggs played a vital role in their festival of renewal.

Woodworking artisans

If it is Romanian woodwork that you want to see, then Maramures is the place to go. Here you will find the Spatana “Merry Cemetery” with its beautiful grave markers. You will also find homes in this area trimmed with elaborately carved wood, and carved wooden fences and gates. Historically, the carved wooden gates in the area depicted a family’s status. The more elaborately the gate was carved, the more important the family was.

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Painted Easter Eggs
Painted Easter Eggs

The Australian Ugg Boots Phenomenon

By David Malan

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Boomerang
Boomerang

Ugg boots. Aussie souvenir gifts, winter sheepskin boots, fashionable Australian sheepskin footwear. Call them what you will, they’re the fashion accessory that you will never grow out of, that you’ll wear more than your trusty faded denim jeans, and that your feet will love you for.

So what are ugg boots, and why are they becoming so popular around the world? In case you’ve been living under a rock and haven’t got a pair, here’s a brief history of the Australian fashion phenomenon that is ugg boots.

The exact history of how these Australian winter sheepskin boots came about is lost in the mists of time. What is known is that they’ve been worn by Australians since European settlers first arrived on the huge island continent and discovered that their cold feet could best be warmed by sheepskin footwear. Whoever the first person was to don a pair, he or she started an Aussie fashion trend that would be perpetually enduring.

Australians love the outdoor lifestyle, and Aussie surfers and beach lovers have been wearing winter sheepskin footwear for well over fifty years on the beach, as a way of keeping their feet warm whilst out of the water.

The name ugg boots is derived from that famous Aussie tradition of lovingly abbreviating every common usage term, and it was only a short skip from “ugly boots” to seriously “ugg boots”. Ugly as they were perceived at the time compared to more traditional wear, there was no beating these Australian uggs boots for warmth and comfort.

Until recent times, Australian ugg boots, or “Australian uggs” as they are sometimes endearingly referred to, were one of the world’s best kept secrets, used by those in the know down under. How the rest of the world started getting in on the action is somewhat debated, but one of the most commonly held beliefs is that they were popularised by Baywatch star, Pamela Anderson, when she kept her feet warm on set by wearing a pair of Australian ugg boots. Since then, tens of thousands of people around the world have bought pairs of uggs, whether it be as Aussie souvenir gifts, fashion statement, or most commonly, for their pure comfort and enjoyment.

Whether or not ugg boots will become as synonymous with the Australian lifestyle and culture as other Australian symbols such as the kangaroo, the didgeridoo and Vegemite sandwiches is yet to be seen, but one thing is for sure, this is one Australian lifestyle accessory that the rest of the world is loving as much as Australians do.

David Malan is an internet and e-commerce expert with over ten years experience in designing and developing enterprise grade online solutions for business.

He owns and runs RealmSurfer Consulting, based in Perth, Western Australia.

Website: Web Design Perth

More information about ugg boots: Ugg Boots [http://www.oceansounds24.com/uggys-boots] Caring for your ugg boots [http://www.oceansounds24.com/care-instructions]

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How to Buy and Shop for Authentic Canadian Inuit Art (Eskimo Art) Sculptures

By Clint Leung

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Traditional Inukshuk Sculpture
Traditional Inukshuk Sculpture

Many visitors to Canada will be exposed to Inuit art (Eskimo art) sculptures while touring the country. These are the magnificent hand made sculptures carved from stone by the Inuit artists living in the northern Arctic regions of Canada. While in some of the major Canadian cities (Toronto, Vancouver, Montreal, Ottawa and Quebec City) or other tourist areas popular with international visitors such as Banff, Inuit sculptures will be seen at various retail shops and displayed at some museums. Since Inuit art has been getting more and more international exposure, people may be seeing this Canadian fine art form at galleries and museums located outside Canada too.

As a result, it will be natural for many tourists and art collectors to decide that they would like to purchase Inuit sculptures as nice souvenirs for their homes or as very unique gifts for others. Assuming that the intention is to acquire an authentic piece of Inuit art rather than a cheap tourist imitation, the question arises on how does one tell apart the real thing from the fakes?

It would be pretty disappointing to bring home a piece only to find out later that it isn’t authentic or even made in Canada. If one is lucky enough to be traveling in the Canadian Arctic where the Inuit live and make their wonderful artwork, then it can be safely assumed that any Inuit art piece purchased from a local northern store or directly from an Inuit carver would be authentic. One would have to be more careful elsewhere in Canada, especially in tourist areas where all sorts of other Canadian souvenirs such as t-shirts, hockey jerseys, postcards, key chains, maple syrup and other Native Canadian arts are sold.

The safest places to shop for Inuit sculptures to ensure authenticity are always the reputable galleries that specialize in Canadian Inuit art and Eskimo art. Some of these galleries have advertisements in the city tourist guides found in hotels. Reputable Inuit art galleries are also listed in Inuit Art Quarterly magazine which is devoted entirely to Inuit art. These galleries will usually be located in the downtown tourist areas of major cities. When one walks into these galleries, one will see that there will be only Inuit art and maybe Native art but none of the other usual tourist souvenirs such as t-shirts or postcards. These galleries will have only authentic Inuit art for sale as they do not deal with imitations or fakes.

Just to be even safer, make sure that the piece you are interested in comes with a Canadian government Igloo tag certifying that it was hand made by a Canadian Inuit artist. The Inuit sculpture may be signed by the carver either in English or Inuit syllabics but not all authentic pieces are signed. So be aware that an unsigned piece may still be indeed authentic.

Some of these Inuit art galleries also have websites so you could shop and buy authentic Inuit art sculpture from home anywhere in the world. In addition to these street retail specialty galleries, there are now reputable online galleries that also specialize in authentic Inuit art. These online galleries are a good option for buying Inuit art since the prices are usually lower than those at street retail galleries because of lower overheads. Of course, like any other shopping on the internet, one must be careful so when dealing with an online gallery, make sure that their pieces also come with the official Igloo tags to ensure authenticity.

Some tourist shops do carry authentic Inuit art as well as the other touristy souvenirs in order to cater to all types of tourists. When shopping at these types of stores, it is possible to tell apart the real pieces from the reproductions. Authentic Inuit sculpture is carved from stone and therefore should have some weight or mass to it. Stone is also cold to the touch. A reproduction made of plastic or resin from a mold will be much lighter in weight and will not be cold to the touch. A reproduction will sometimes have a company name on it such as Wolf Originals or Boma and will never feature an artist’s signature. An authentic Inuit sculpture is a one of a kind piece of artwork and nothing else on the store shelves will look exactly like it. If there are duplicates of a certain piece with exact details, the piece is not authentic.

If a piece looks too perfect in detail with absolute straight bottoms or sides, it is probably not real. Of course, if a piece features a sticker indicating that is was made in an Asian country, then it is obviously a fake. There will also be a huge price difference between authentic pieces and the imitations.

Where it becomes more difficult to determine authenticity are with the reproductions that are also made of stone. This can be a real gray area to those unfamiliar with authentic Inuit art. They do have mass and may even have some type of tag indicating that it was hand made but if there are other pieces on the shelves that look too similar in detail, they are most likely not authentic. If a seller claims that such as piece is authentic, ask to see the official Igloo tag that comes with it which will have information on the artist, location where it was made and the year it was carved. If the Igloo tag is not available, move on. The authentic pieces with the accompanying official Igloo tags will always be the highest priced and are usually kept in a separate (perhaps even locked) shelf within the store.

Clint Leung is owner of Free Spirit Gallery http://www.FreeSpiritGallery.ca, an online gallery specializing in Inuit Eskimo and Northwest Native American art including carvings, sculpture and prints. Free Spirit Gallery has numerous information resource articles with photos of authentic Inuit and Native Indian art as well as free eCards.

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Inuit Art Sculpture
Inuit Art Sculpture