Art Exhibit: Handmade Dolls by Yulia Welk

Slavic Rag Dolls - ancient craft with meaning exhibit opens Thursday, September 27

Slavic Dolls will inhabit the exhibit space at the Drummond Public Library from September 27 through January 1. These meaning filled, colorful and unique soft textile dolls reflect an ancient craft still practiced in Slavic countries. Yulia Welk has brought this time honored art form to life in our area and makes its history alive at her opening presentation at 4 p.m. on Thursday, September 27.

Yulia Welk, a Russian native, has lived with her family in the north woods of Wisconsin for the over 15 years. She has a love for everything natural.

Living surrounded by the mighty pines, Yulia is deeply connected to the earth and everything she has to offer. Things like fresh air, clean water, and nourishing herbs. At home in this setting she can best envision, create, and produce something that is in tune with the environment while retaining the wisdom of her ancestors. Her daily inspiration is her great grandmother, Aleksandra, who was born in 1905. Aleksandra worked with natural herbs and made slavic rag dolls.

It has been very important and into woven into Yulia’s life in Wisconsin to preserve her Slavic background and traditions all the while finding ways to share them with others, Making Slavic Textile Dolls is one way to connect to her roots and keep a cherished tradition alive.

Rag dolls hold symbolism in Russian culture. Every new born baby receives it’s first rag doll from the mother, who creates the doll during her pregnancy. An easy creation, the rag doll is usually dressed in elaborate finery but the face is kept plain without features painted or embroidered on to the cloth. Folk belief says that a faceless doll is inanimate and does not attract evil spirits. Thus the humble rag doll became not just a toy but a talisman in Russian culture. They make their appearances during weddings and festivals, as a good will gift for luck and prosperity. The Savic rag dolls in the exhibit at the Drummond Public Library reflect the color and uniqueness of this craft..

During the presentation at the upcoming opening on September 27 , Yulia will reveal not only simple ways to make these dolls, but also uncover their deeper meaning. Yulia stresses that dolls are not just for kids to play with, they are sacred useful objects that adults create and can use in their everyday life.

“”Many cultures have an ancient tradition of making some sort of rag doll. In Slavic countries including Russia, these dolls were always very popular and are going through a new wave of recognition right now. We are bringing the tradition back and sharing the wisdom of using them in different situations,” said Welk “The dolls are not just for the kids you know! These Slavic Rag Dolls are charms that bring joy, prosperity, calm, healing, fun, and positive transforming energy to your home or space. Russian dolls have no facial features, as we believe that this way the doll will stay protected from outer forces, and also you can imagine at any moment if the doll is happy or sad. The dolls are made with natural materials only – cotton fabric, cloth or herbal fillers, and sheep’s wool.”

Yulia has developed her own business following in her great grandmother’s footsteps. Inspired by nature, she has created and sells a product line that clean, safe, and includes truly natural skin care products. “The things that we come in direct contact with are what (along with a healthy life style) ultimately shapes our health and strengthens our inner belonging to nature and the planet.
I intrinsically enjoy and test all of my own recipes. Therefore, you can always be sure of the quality and freshness of my herbal products. They are the best for our skin, body, and the environment!,” said Welk.

At the Drummond Public Library during this exhibit, the public will have not only the opportunity to view the dolls but also to purchase dolls for the upcoming season of gift giving.
Mimi Crandall, art exhibit volunteer coordinator, told Yulia that her presentation and exhibit will be a different direction from other library art exhibits . It will be fun tactile and whimsical. It will bring this cultural tradition to life for a larger audience.

The space we get to use is part of a beautiful local Wisconsin Public Library System located in Drummond. The exhibit will be on view through the end of December. The Drummond Public Library is open. Tuesday through Friday from 10 to 5 ; Saturday 9 to 1. Join us Thursday, September 27 from 3 p.m. til 5p.m.for the opening.
— Mimi Crandall