The Straw Shop would like to introduce Lyudmila Kushnir ( Людмила Кушнир). Interestingly, she comes by straw work through the creative women in her family. Lyudmila Kushnir is a second generation straw artist, from the Odessa region of Ukraine.
How did a straw tradition in her family begin?
According to Lyudmila, “It began with my grandmother, she painstakingly and enthusiastically embroidered beautiful birds, which is probably why I so love to depict birds in detail in the style of my grandmother. Mom (1964/2020) lived her whole life by this and taught this technique in an orphanage of creativity. She was an honored folk craftsman in straw applique and participated in international exhibitions.” It’s little wonder Lyudmila found herself involved with straw work.
“Since childhood, taking all my mother and grandmother’s knowledge and improving, I have developed my own technique.” “Straw is a durable material.”
“I will try to briefly describe the process itself, starting with the procurement of the main material, namely straws of cereals (I use rye, oat and wheat straws for my work). I sow cereals in late winter when the snow has melted, and I collect straws in early August when it is still green and then again at the end of August when it ripens.
Straws that were green give me a beautiful snow-white color; later, the mature ones – from light yellow to golden shades. Bunches of straw should be spread out and dried while standing in the shade to prevent moisture from spoiling the color of the straw.”
” Then everything is taken out and dried in a ventilated room. Since I have been working in this technique for a long time, I can quickly cut out finished parts from straw ribbons. The canvas serves as the basis for the picture, I paint on it in oil and when it dries I start to work on the straw.”
” I also cut out finished parts from straw ribbons, such as feathers of birds and spread one on top of the other starting from the tail of the bird. The work is certainly painstaking (but diligence is rewarded). It takes a week to create a small work, and a month or more to create a large one.”
“The whole composition consists of different shades of straw, which has absorbed the juice of the herbs. If I need to convey the look of a bird, I use firing. I am often asked where I get straws of brown, red, purple shades and so on. I do not use any chemical paints for dyeing straw! Moreover, I am a supporter of everything natural and environmentally friendly, therefore I use only natural plant dyes in my work. For example: a bright orange color gives the juice of a herb called celandine, brown – juice of a green walnut shell, and so on … ”
The expertise of her feather technique is obvious in many of her pieces. The Straw Shop offers a glimpse of this artist’s subject versatility through the additional images she has shared below:
Her use of natural straw, natural dyes and pyrography merge expertly in the piece below:
In the next images her attention to layers of detail is showcased.
She relates: ” I have been doing straw art for about 20 years.” Her technique is “applique from straw” with her personal improvements.
Her subject matter is endless. As are the various different techniques she can execute as shown below;
Following in her family’s tradition, Lyudmila has found success in her work.
Here is a sampling of some of the exhibitions she has recently participated in:
2016 International exhibition “Ladya. Spring Fantasy”, Moscow
2016 International “Festival of joinery”, Moscow
2017 International “Festival of joinery”, Moscow
2018 Exhibition at the Odessa Regional Museum
2018 International “Festival of joinery”, Moscow
2019 Personal exhibition city-resort Gelendzhik (Russia)
Lyudmila’s personal style of straw work has been admired by many. Her “work may be found in private collections in Russia, Ukraine, Canada, China and other countries around the world.”
Please enjoy the following video. The gallery display of her work is a nice presentation of her work. The video will also give one a better idea of the sizes of her work; some of which appear here:
In closing our interview, she states; “Over the years of my creative work, I have done a lot of work and I can look at them constantly, they do not cease to please me. This is a fascinating and creative process filled with spiritual joy and harmony of man with nature!”
The Straw Shop would like to additionally recognize Lyudmila’s mother for all her years of sharing her art with others. Honoring Lyudmila’s Mother Galina Konstantinovna Kushnir:
The Straw Shop appreciates Lyudmila sharing her straw story and her work so others may be inspired. Please welcome Lyudmila Kushnir ( Людмила Кушнир) to our Artists Page.