Amber and lithuanian art

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The waves of the Baltic Sea used to throw amber ashore since olden times. Its articles can be found in archaeological treasures, and amber beads have become part of a national costume. The outlook on amber as a national symbol and the image of a Lithuanian girl wearing amber beads was formed in the period between the late 19th century and the early 20th century by the writers and poets of the national liberation movement. It has survived in the national cultural memory up to the present days.

Artists consider amber to be a complex material. The shapes of its pieces present a great diversity, and the process of its grinding and polishing unfolds a host of shades, textures, whitish fibres seen inside the piece, some hardened semi-transparent “tiny clouds”, and air bubbles in the clair mass. The dug out or cast out amber by the sea is coated with a “rind”, which prevents from seeing its inside. The mysterious inside unfolds itself only after the process of polishing. Amber - the hardened resin which was dripping down from the trees fifty million years ago. The shape of a piece depended on the place of the accumulation of resin, i.e. whether is accumulated on the trunk or roots, and flat small pieces also acquired their shape inside between the rinds. Resin is of a dark yellow colour, transparent, and the bright whitish insertions in the clear mass appeared only due to the foaming of resin.The foaming resin originated the non-transparent yellowish, white amber. The so-called blue amber was born under the impact of iron admixtures, and the black - under that of charcoal. Even a strong wind might have effected the appearance of amber - not fully hardened mass rippled and left an expressive texture.

Amber gives many possibilities to an artist, the only thing to do is just to choose what attracts you. If one imagines the relationship between an artist and material as a dialogue striving for mutual understanding, amber could be called a very talkative interlocutor. Whereas to perceive the artist’s words, which witness the mysterious spiritual kinship and are close to his creative credo, is difficult, indeed. At present and in the past, the greater part of amber adornments in Lithuania is produced by folk masters (artists amateurs) and craftsmen.

We had only few professional jewellers up to the end of the 70s. The most prominent among them - Feliksas Daukantas and Kazimieras Simanonis - devoted much attention to amber. The mentioned and other artists created standarts for a serial production of amber adornments at the state enterprise “Dailė”. The stylistics of their adornments became an example for artists amateurs.

In the course of time, the production of amber adornments (they were in great demand...