It is time to look at the work of another kumihimo artist. When I decided to feature different people in my blog my intention was to add variety and interest to my writing. For me it has turned into far more than that and is proving to be a fascinating insight into the lives and inspiration of the people I admire. From the messages I receive I think others are enjoying these blogs too. I am confident that this particular blog will be very popular!
Today I want to show the work of Jana Polackova to the wider audience it deserves. I am always entranced by the photos Jana posts in the Kumihimo Facebook group and I particularly admire her range and skill. Her work is always exciting and unique, as is demonstrated by the first image.
Very few people come straight to kumihimo. Most have prior experience of other forms of jewellery making and Jana’s beadweaving skills bring a very special element to kumihimo. In this design I love the way Jana has matched up the colours and the asymetrical positioning of the flowers is a great contrast to the regular contstruction of the braid. The beads are fabulous, but then we would expect no less because Jana is lucky enough to live in the Prague, so she has access to all the wonderful Czech beads. She has also worked with wood, wire and copper sheets, but it is her fascination with fibre which has brought her to kumihimo. She loves to experiment with all different sorts of yarn, thread, floss, rattail and even strips of fabric and draws inspiration not only from contemporary sources, but also from the collections of jewellery, costumes, embroidery and lace in the Prague Museum of Decorative Art. This is demonstrated in the next two photos.
This is such a joyful piece, filled with colour and texture. It is fabulous to see different braid structures used together and to see braids manipulated into shape together with knots and tufty tassels.
I love the wild mix of elements in this piece and I think it suggests the eclectic mix of Jana’s sources of inspiration. She is not alone in saying that nature is her greatest source of inspiration and perhaps we are seeing her love of the varying tones in sky and water in this necklace. However, she also finds stimilation in the shapes and colours of urban life, such as railings and grills or stained glass church windows. I think I am seeing not only the colours of church windows in the next photo, but also the gothic shapes.
We are just coming into autumn, so Jana should be pleased because she told me that autumn colours are her favourites. The warm palette of colours in this next photo are perfect for the season and this is a beautifully crafted necklace with great attention to every detail.
So how does Jana make all these amazing designs? She uses just a foam disk and a plate, which she has been using for two and a half years and she describes as ‘veterans’. Well they have certainly seen some action and it just goes to show that you do not need the fanciest equipment to be super-creative!
However, you do need to have time to be creative. For family reasons, Jana needs to spend most of her time at home and kumihimo is a very important part of her life. As she says,
‘For me, kumihimo is not just a craft, but a way to clear my mind of any baggage, just enjoying the rhythm of movements, the touch of fiber or the sparkle of beads, almost a meditative experience’
I can certainly identify with those sentiments and I am sure many others can too. Kumihimo should be available on prescription from the doctors!
Jana’s talent extends beyond jewellery as demonstrated by this amazing Tree of Knowledge, complete with serpent!
This is such a clever constuction and for me it demonstrates just how much untapped potential there is in kumihimo. Although it is an ancient Japanese art, its use in western style jewellery and artefacts is still very new. This sort of experimentation opens up all sorts of design possiblilites.
At the end of my blogs about different designers I ususally post a link to a shop or page where people can see more of the designer’s work. However, Jana doesn’t sell her work or her designs. She is happiest when she is making for a specific person and much of her work is given away or sold at charity events. So if you want to see more you will just have to wait patiently for her regular posts on the Kumihimo Facebook group!
The final design is very special indeed. It combines beadweaving with lots of visible braid, is made up in pretty, fresh colours and it is unlike anything I have seen before, so it really ticks all the boxes for me!
Thank you Jana, for allowing me to share your work and for giving me a little insight into your life and your inspiration.