Leather earrings

Leather is a very friendly medium for artists. Unlike printmaking, ceramics and other "dirty" mediums, leather-working is clean and fun. There is no need for special tools, scissors, awls, and punchers will do - and all you have to think about is design! Here are some of my own attempts at scrap-leather items:

Handmade leather car mirror decoration - draco, the ancient  Dacian wolf standard

Handmade leather "octopus" earrings - intentionally asymmetrical and 3D

Bird-shaped handmade leather earrings

Conceptual leather earrings - "conception"

Handmade leather "helix" earrings - intentionally asymmetrical and 3D



Stoneware is defined as a vitreous or semi-vitreous ceramic made primarily from stoneware clay or non-refractory fire clay, fired at high temperatures, non-porous. It is in fact one of the most aesthetically promising mediums in contemporary ceramics, so that I created a selection of the best such items in the following Etsy treasury:



Vampire-free Transylvania - Etsy treasury

Please forget all the Dracula stories, there is much more than them in Transylvania / Erdely / Siebenburgen. My latest Etsy Treasury sends this message and encourages people to check the land and its artists, by selecting a series of artworks dedicated to or created by Transylvanians.


Exotica - jewelry and precious stones

The past few days I visited Mineralia, the periodical fair for precious stones and jewelry, this time held at the Ethnographic Museum in Cluj-Napoca. It was rich, as usual, more with ready-made pieces of jewelry than with primary materials or independent stones. So rich that one has to diligently go through the myriad way-to-shiny things, in order to fine something special. Once I got the worn-down coral pieces, imperfect amber stones, a couple of prehistoric crocodile teeth and other wonders, I embarked on the "Exotica" project: making amulet necklaces with exotic materials. They can be found on my website Atelierul de Istorie.

Miniatures - Etsy Treasury

My latest Etsy treasury, available here, focuses on miniatures, tiny art objects and artifacts. These are, in my opinion, special through their sheer size and difficulty of manufacture/production. Though very small, they are sometime more difficult to make than normal or large objects. I do hope people appreciate this as well, not only liking them due to the "cuteness" criterion, as a kind of mannerism.


Project linocut calendar 2016

Linocut is tricky and messy (at least in my case:), so designing a callendar in this technique went through several stages. At first, I though I would print all 12 pages and then have them scanned and multiplied. Naturally, there were mistakes (the writing backwards part gets me every time). They might have been photoshoped, as I was happy with some of the monotipy effects. Still, the question of funding remained unresolved....

Then, I tried to have a one-sheet calendar, with all 12 pages on a single sheet for printing economy, but that proved too crowded. The difference in page color was also difficult to manage for a Photoshop amateur as myself.

So, the third variant was the simplest and cheapest, of a table top calendar with one element in linocut and the dates printed and attached. The folding was not so easy, but I figured it out eventually, so there it is: the calendar for all Dacian lovers, as the chosen motif is the ancient war standard of the Dacians, the Draco, that can be bought from my online store, at http://atelieruldeistorie.ro/calendar-2016/


Cantharid - famous poison and aphrodisiac

The cantaridae (Lyttavesicatoria), also known as the soldier beetle, are harmful insects of the Coleoptera order. In the past, the insects were “harvested” by shaking the trees (mainly ash trees) and collecting the beetles on canvases placed underneath. The catharidae were then drowned in water and vinegar, dried, and crushed.
Lytta vesicatoria or the soldier beetle
 The relevant substance is cantharidin, toxic and smelly, but very famous for being the oldest known European aphrodisiac. Nevertheless, its effects are purely irritant and inflammatory, though locally stimulating blood flow.
Eighteenth-century cantharid powder
 Besides this very famous use, cantharid powder was also used in plasters, to cause blisters, as nervous stimulant (against drowsiness) and as an abortive. Mixed with food, the powder is almost undetectable and was thus used as poison, i.e. the poison of choice of the Medici family.
Wooden jar and parchment sheet including the alchemical sign for powder
The History of Pharmacy Collection in Cluj-Napoca includes five jars for cantharid powder, tincture and homeopathic dilutions, dated to the 18th and 19th centuries. Some actual powder has been preserved in a parchment sheet from the 18th-century apothecary chest of Tereza Kemeny. The parchment in question and one of the wooden jars include the alchemical sign for “powder” .


Monty Pythonish things

Fans of Monty Python and artists unite! Here is an Etsy treasury of common interest, with all the references you want to the Knights who say Ni, the Killer Rabbit, the Dead Parrot, and a lot of Silly Walks:



Have you heard about the new art deco shop in town? You should go and see it (as the name suggests) a bit of-center, on 21 December st. 42, in Cluj-Napoca, for souvenirs, hand painted furniture, paintings and many other pretty things. As they say, it is the world of contemporary eco/traditional items. They are in the beginning, so a bit of support with promotion will be welcome. If you are an artist or a craftsman (or woman, naturally), go take a look, it might be the beginning of a beautiful friendship!
Saviisavezi has a Facebook page, but their website is still under construction.



Eviction threat for the History of Pharmacy Collection

The History of Pharmacy Collection of Cluj is located in the oldest pharmacy of the city and one of the oldest ones in Transylvania. The building is known as the Hintz House, after the last owners who kept the pharmacy until 1949 when the Communist Regime nationalized it. Soon afterwards the pharmacy museum was opened on the first floor and part of the basement of the monument building. It was one of the first specialized museums of its kind in Europe and it has always held a special place in the hearts of the people of Cluj. Now, after a series of lawsuits, the heirs of the Kintz pharmacists have recovered the building and want to sell it, but the State (Ministry of Culture, Town Hall) have trouble negotiating and thus the museum risks eviction. I am among among those supporting the preservation of the collection in its current location, therefore:

 Read more on the importance of this collection on their blog and feel free to join the fight!


A good art mix

Good art is just unavoidable - especially if it includes a good number of etchings and mix technique prints. Here is a selection I made on Etsy recently:


Historically about OPIUM

Theriaca jar
Peasant preparing an ointment to protect against snakes from the theriaca of Nicander of Colophon (tenth century A.D.)
 Opium is the dry latex obtained through cutting the poppy seed pod (Papaver somniferum) and thus it was also known as the milk or the tears of the poppy (lachryma papaveris). The substance contains morphine and codeine and has been used since the earliest times as analgesic, anesthetic, and sedative, either to medical ends or during rituals.

Since Antiquity opium has been a traditional ingredient in theriaca-type remedies – a famous concoction used as panaceum and antidote against animal bites and poison. Theriaca contained around 40 ingredients, its preparation could last several years, and was extremely expensive.

Laudanum is the term consecrated since the sixteenth century for opium tincture, discovered by the famous German alchemist Paracelsus. It was used for centuries as it was a very popular, even if temporary remedy for coughing, diarrhea, and pain in general. At the same time, laudanum was cheaper than alcoholic drinks, taxed extra, and was available without prescription – in fact a widely accessible narcotic.
Opium and Theriaca apothecary jars from the History of Pharmacy Collection in Cluj-Napoca
The recreational use of opium, as a drug, started in China in the fifteenth century, flourished during the seventeenth, and triggered severe bans, commercial controls, and even wars.
The History of Pharmacy Collection in Cluj-Napoca includes a number of pharmaceutical jars from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries for the storage of opium powder, extract, and tincture, but also for the expensive theriaca, that also included opium among its ingredients.


Fragmente des Anderen / Fragments of the Other

An impressive collaboration project by Andor Komives and Gisela Weimann. It was recently presented at the Art Museum in Cluj-Napoca, and here are some images from the opening, presented as an artist talk. The video present the project in its entirety:

Fragmente des Anderen / Fragments of the Other from Gisela Weimann on Vimeo.

Tooled leather

As many other crafts, leather tooling goes beyond technical procedures into the realm of decorative art. There are designs to be made and transferred, color to be applied (paint, spray, sprinkle, layer), and patina to be added. Not to mention the incision itself, which certainly benefits from an artist's trained hand and sensitivity (to the interplay of thick and thin lines for example). Here are some image illustrating the step-by-step process, as exemplified at www.atelieruldeistorie.ro (material in Romanian)
More images are available on the Facebook Page Piele Sculptata



Fetish Etsy Treasury

The origin of the term fetish is ethnographic and many of its meanings have nothing to do with BDSM and have no sexual overtone whatsoever. Here is a brief recovery of those older meanings...
Still, making Etsy Treasuries can become a Fetish itself, so beware!



Introducing Lucian

Lucian is a detail maker, applying his love of graphic and decorative embellishment to various surfaces, from classical paintings, drawings, and prints, to shoes, ceramic objects, bookmarks, boxes, earrings and, basically, everything he can get his talented hands on! Here is his Facebook page: Atelier  c o n c e p t.
Feel free to visit his studio in Cluj-Napoca, as he is ready to receive guests and organizes several types of events, like studio exhibitions and fairs. 


Anise (Pimpinella anisum) is a native plant of Egypt, Greece, Crete, and the Asia Minor, known by the ancient Greeks and cultivated by the Romans in Italy. Star anise (Illicium verum) is very similar in flavor, but the plant is different, native of China and Vietnam.

Dioscorides and Pliny the Elder mention, besides the old cook books, the use of anise during the Roman period as a spice, mostly for the preparation of a digestive cake served at the end of dinner. During the Middle Ages, the plant started to be cultivated in Central Europe as well. Anise seeds are among the ingredients of absinthe, a highly alcoholic spirit created in Switzerland in the end of the eighteenth century, very popular and the artists and writers of Paris during the nineteenth and the twentieth century. Considered toxic, absinthe was forbidden in several states in 1915, but recent studies have shown that the absinthe's psychoactive properties have been exaggerated and a revival of absinthe began in the 1990s.

Due to its properties and strong flavor, anise was also used in pharmaceutical and para-pharmaceutical products; it was recommended in cold, cases of difficult digestion, but also to refresh one’s breath, as ingredient of dentifrices. Anise seed oil had external use, against parasites. In homeopathy, anise was prescribed as expectorant, anti-spasmodic, carminative, and anti-microbial.

 The History of Pharmacy Collection of Cluj includes five vessels (of which four are exhibited here), dated to the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, for anise seed powder and anise oil. The jars were used in pharmacies from Cluj, Baia Mare, Braşov, and Sibiu.