About the Studio

The studio "Dubna" maintains and develops the ancient weaving tradition, exploring ancient symbols characteristic to Latgale and inweaving them into modern textiles. Come and see them!

You are invited to take part in a tour "Curly Wool Stretched Straight", where you can find out how to get patterned socks (that warm you up during cold winter months) from a sheep. Entrance fee: donations.
Working time:
Monday - Friday: 9:00 to 16:00
Saturday, Sunday: closed


Visits and workshops need to be booked in advance by calling tel. +371 65344866; 29262019
Address: Livani, Sporta iela 5a, LV - 5316, Latvia

Current events at Folk Applied Arts Studio “Dubna”
  • Learn to weaving;
  • Textile exhibition;
  • Participation in exhibitions;
  • Activity "Curly Wool Stretched Straight".
Learn and Discover!
  • Weavers

 In order to produce clothing one needs a fabric. In order to get the fabric, one needs to weave it. Loom or weaving frame was discovered already B.C., just it was much simpler in comparison with the modern loom construction.

Weaving is one of the leading handicraft industries in Latgale region since ancient times. There were excellent weavers in every village at that time. Weaving occupation became quite a profitable business to get extra income for living. White linen fabrics were often woven for sale. Latgalian patterned linen towels and tablecloths were very versatile and bright. In many places in Latgale, people knew how to make fabrics from flax waste. Patterned bed covers were often woven from it too. The use of flax waste gradually disappeared in the 2nd part of the 20th century. The bed covers made in the traditional design technique (drellu technique) had the richest diversity in terms of colors and patterns. Many variations of stars and sun patterns were used in weaving. Latgale can be proud of the blankets woven in a rose and splinter technique which are particularly luxurious and bright.

                In the 19th century, the artisans were mainly weaving the fabrics meant for clothing and household needs, while in the beginning of the 20th century, the weavers paid a special attention and efforts to the production of the fabrics with a more ornamental and decorative role. The development of the folk art was thus promoted, which was based on the ancient folk traditions.

The weaving skills have not been forgotten nowadays as well. There is still a lot of fabric creating masters of weaving industry in Latgale.

 

  • The Longest Belt in Latvia

                 In the weavers’ workshop of Latgale Art and Craft Centre, within half a year, a unique national belt was created in the length of 94 meters, or 296 feet, or 174 cubits. This belt is the longest one in Latvia. It was weaved by 13 weavers from Livani district as a gift to Livani town on its 80-year anniversary.

                Just like Daugava changes its wave patterns and flow every day, the weavers have interweaved diverse ornaments in the national belt that can calm you, warm you and make you stronger.

The belt was weaved by this group of weavers: Inese Valaine, Maija Kulakova, Dzidra Ceple, Solvita Cirule, Liga Eiduka, Silvija Lojane, Lilita Peiseniece, Janina Pupina, Rita Teilane, Sandra Vigule, Madara Vuskarniece, Natalija Vuskarniece, and Antonina Zarane.

 

  • Blacksmiths

 Once people began to use iron in everyday life, it also caused the need for blacksmiths. The blacksmiths could be noticed among all the craftsmen already from afar – they were typically tall and physically strong men. But the physical strength alone was not enough for a good blacksmith. The mastership level of the blacksmith’s craft has at all times been dependent on practical skills as well as the knowledge passed from generation to generation.

Forging is the oldest craft in Latgale. Its origin goes back to the beginning of our era. At least one or more blacksmiths worked at each manor, parish and town at that time. A good blacksmith is an artist in his soul, and a constructor, technologist and locksmith in his action and expression.

The blacksmiths made agricultural and craft tools, iron hardware for mills, cranes, wheels and sled runners. One of the most difficult jobs of a blacksmith is making horseshoes and fixing them to horses’ hooves. Those blacksmiths who, first of all, love horses, and secondly, know the nature, character and anatomy of the animal, succeed in this work well. Good knowledge of the lower part of a horse's leg, its nail properties and the horse’s pace is especially useful. It is important to prepare a horse's hoof properly before its shoeing.

The guiding principles of a blacksmith’s craft remained unchanged until the middle of the 20th century. The blacksmiths’ services are required also today. Most of them do individual work orders, and most part of the orders is connected with things which are not produced industrially. Various metal forgings - practical and decorative interior and exterior items – are much requested.


  • Woodcarvers

 It is in human nature to reach for security, peace and shelter. Already since prehistoric times, one could create a shelter thanks to the nature, which gave us trees. People need wood in everyday life for construction buildings, making furniture, as well as many other household goods. Woodcarvers are the masters who know how to turn wood into a miracle, creating things and values necessary for living. When these craftsmen merged, a large woodworking industry was developed. Latgale is being known for good woodcarvers for a long time.

The following masters work in the industry:

             carpenters - construct log homes, framework buildings, wooden buildings

             sawyers - saw timber and prepare wooden materials for construction

             carpenters - make furniture, window frames, doors and other household items

             wheelwrights – make and curve cart wheels, horse harness shaftbows and sledge runners

             basket-makers - weave plates and dishes, furniture and other household items using hazel, willow wickers, pine roots, splinters, birch-barks, straw and other natural materials

             coopers - produce different hooped dishes

             traffic means manufacturers - make boats, sleighs and carriages

             spinning wheels manufacturers - make yarn spinning wheels

             small-scale craftsmen - make small wooden boxes, spoons, and other small-scale items in daily life

Woodcarvers worked in specially equipped separate workshops. Their working skills have been preserved well to the present day in Latgale. There are many great woodworking masters living and working here, thus giving the opportunity to the next generations to learn the craft, and preserving the unique cultural heritage.

 

  • Latgale Culinary Heritage

 Latgale has for a long time been famous for its hospitality, distinct language, culture and cooking traditions. Nobody leaves a true Latgalian home with an empty stomach. All guests, as far as possible, are offered a meal, a warm cup of tea or a stronger drink also known as shmakovka. Latgale culinary heritage is one of the imperishable values passed on from generation to generation, although other nations’ cuisines have left their traces throughout the time.

Overall, Latgale culinary heritage is characterized by dishes prepared from local resources: the blessings grown in the own barn, garden or field, fish from the lakes, forest berries and mushrooms.

The rural people’s rhythm of life with many farm works historically very severely restricted the time available for cooking. Therefore, Latgale cuisine is characterized by fast, easy-to-make, or simply warmed over food. However, the self-made and sometimes very modest dishes have done Latgale people just stronger.

Latgale cooking traditions were also dependent on the change of seasons. Pigs raised in summer were slaughtered in winter, allowing a large range of meat dishes on Christmas table. While the bacon was salted, frozen and kept for using during hot hay season. The new potatoes were dig out around Midsummer, and with the grain harvest in autumn, the farmers baked a loaf of bread from the new grain.

Beside the regular work, different feasts were celebrated too. A celebration which is entwined with the most stories is the wedding traditions in Latgale. The wedding usually longed for several days, and all the relatives and neighbours to the young couple were invited for the feast. They had to be well fed, so good Latgale wedding cooks have been as precious as gold at all times.

As time passes, the traditions are being adjusted to age, the food is not so nourishing any more, they tend to be more imaginative and richer in flavors than the original ones. But nevertheless, the secret of cooking art of good culinary masters include estimation by sight, sense of taste and inter-generation exchanges.

 

  • Shoemakers

 The shoe manufacturers of the 19th century are divided into two major groups: shoemakers and felt boots fullers. Most of the shoemakers made the shoes from leather. They were the ones who took care of one’s feet so that all people had shoes in towns, villages and the rural areas. Artisans living in rural areas often were shoemakers and saddlers in one person. Wearing leather shoes was a visual evidence of one’s well-being and wealth. By contrast, bast shoes and pastalas (simple footwear made of one piece of leather) were considered typical peasant everyday and work shoes. These shoes were made at home. The pastalas were manufactured from thick leather, but the bast shoes were weaved from lime basts.

The so-called strikenes or peternes were made from twisted flax strings. Typically, there was one shoemaker working in a village, but in areas where shoes were manufactured for sale in the market, there were more shoemakers.

In the end of the 19th century, the most important producers of shoes as a market product lived in Livani, Preili and Dagda villages. They were able to produce about 100 pairs of shoes a year.

During the 20th century, the shoemakers’ work was gradually replaced by the industrial production of footwear. However, handmade craft is still alive and highly valued in modern times, especially if shoe repair services, as well as individual orders are necessary.

 

  • Pottery

Pottery is one of the oldest crafts identified in the world and also in Latgale. The historical development of pottery continues through centuries, when the creation of tableware involved not only human hands, but also a potter's wheel. Pottery has gradually developed as a popular field of handicrafts and an important proof of cultural identity reflecting the districts’ unique characteristic features in terms of performance, shapes, the ways of ornamentation, decoration and the application of dish firing techniques.

In 19th century, there were popular pottery centers already developed in Latgale. They were characterized by a dense layout of workshops, a certain combination of traditions, canon and style nuances. Job skills are inherited from generation to generation, therefore a center of Northern Latgale, Ludza, and Latgale Midland as well as several pottery families exist for a long time there.

The basic Latgale pottery articles have developed historically and practically including these types of houselhold tableware: bowl, milk pot, churn, and other household utensils.

Unlocking the clay as a material, the potters learned how to build a variety of pot firing kilns. Traditionally, Latgale ceramics is being fired at an open-fire kilns heated by fir-tree and pine wood. Depending on the skills and abilities, Latgalian masters historically have been using a variety of techniques for firing the pottery artices - biscuit firing (terracotta) when the reduction is done during the firing process (pots are getting black colour as a result), firing glazed plates and dishes (pots are covered with a thin layer of glass), as well as doing post-finishing work - soaking the pottery items in milk or water and flour mixture.

The pottery of Latgale is an important field of applied arts, which is a historical tradition and which viability is proved by the masters still working nowadays. The pottery of Latgale is included in the list of Folk Traditions of Latvian Cultural Canon.

 

  • Needlewomen and knitters

 Needlework (fancy-work) was one of the most popular ancient Latvian household handicrafts, because people knew how to make themselves all the daily necessities of life. Women were spinning, weaving, knitting and doing embroidery. Girls from an early age were learning from their mothers and grandmothers everything that was necessary for a woman's future life and making a rich dowry. Handicrafts have always required a lot of patience, refined sense of taste and color, and a very good knowledge of pattern formation techniques and composition. A variety of techniques were tested thus creating selections of pattern samples. Over centuries, handicrafts were reaching a growing artistic and technical perfection. Latgalian women have been proud of their handicraft skills at all times. Their knitted mittens, socks and cardigans were in everyone's wardrobe. The towels woven by the women and bed sheets with crocheted laces were found in every cottage.

In the end of the 19th century, significant changes took place in the material folk culture, including handicrafts. The traditional home made clothes – the national costume – ceased to exist at that time. A new, era-appropriate hobby - contemporary handicrafts - emerged. The new works were vastly different from the ancient ornament bearer - traditional national costume - both visually and in terms of their application, but the sense of beauty and moderation, the basics of composition and many ancient handicraft techniques were creatively applied to the development and decoration of new articles. During the 19th century, crocheting was a favorite occupation of wealthy ladies. Handicrafts, including crocheting, were at that time a compulsory subject in schools. Today, needlewomen and knitters are knitting, doing embroidery, crocheting, decorative knotting as well as making laces.

 

  • Tailors

                 Tailors, like many other craftsmen, were working in their homes, but there were also the traveling tailors. These tailors went themselves to their customers and performed the ordered sewing work. The tailors stayed at the customer’s house until the sewing job was finished. In the past, Latgalians gladly chose the traveling tailors’ services as it was comfortable and the service quality was excellent. The cost for the sewing work was food and a small cash payment to the tailor.

In the 2nd part of the 19th century, the farmers and petty bourgeois wives often made their casual wear themselves. Tailors were the ones who made men’s clothing and honorary outfits. Originally, the sewing of clothes’ seams were handmade process. Later on, sewing machines were introduced which greatly eased the work. There are two types of sewing machines at that time: hand-operated and foot-operated. Tailor craftsmen were both men and women. The majority of the tailors living in cities and villages as well as the traveling tailors were Jews by nationality.

Nowadays, tailors are mainly working in theater dressing rooms, fashion and art saloons, as well as are performing original orders.