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Estonian Adventures Part 7: Anu Raud and Hemitali

Part of our Estonian Craft Camp week involved a field trip! There were several field trip options and Amber and I choose different towns to explore and we both have a lot to report on.

I went to the Hemitali Museum of Domestic Life and the house of textile artist Anu Raud.

Anu Raud is an Estonian textile artist legend. She has been making masterful folk art for decades and has also been a big collector of any and all textile artifacts of Estonia. She has written the knitting book "Pattern Puppets" which has patterns for traditional Estonian colorwork on stuffed animals and puppets (we now carry this inspiring book which is in English)

We started our day at the Hemitali Museum of Domestic Life which is housed in a preserved 1840's school house. This museum actually houses much of Anu Raud's personal collection which she has donated to the Estonian National Museum and is now collected and on display here at Hemitali. She met us here and took us on a tour, showing us some of her favorite artifacts.

It was almost too much. I couldn't believe the sheer amount of work housed here and the diversity in the Estonian handicrafts. From tapestry weaving, to embroidery, to crochet, to naalbinding, to ribbon plaiting, to sewing, and knitting, this place has it all.

We started with weavings and embroidered blankets. I especially loved this horse blanket that Anu said was a portrait of the owners' beloved pets. Anu talked about each item. She knew the history of each piece, as well as its use and often who made it. One beautiful embroidered blanket would have been used on Sundays to drape over the carriage horses' rears en route to church each week.

In addition to actual textile samples, there are a lot of written and painted documentation of the Estonian textile tradition at this house. Scholars can come and study pages and pages of diagrams, paintings and sample cards of various types of textiles from all regions of Estonia. Painting mittens was an early way of preserving the patterns as the actual mittens would usually disintegrate over time with use. Anu showed us many beautiful sample cards of Setomaa embroidery and textile work.

This was all just the downstairs of this tiny schoolhouse. Upstairs was another world of mind-blowing textile work. Upstairs we were able to put on white gloves and handle boxes upon boxes of artifacts. Knit gloves and mittens, sewn costumes, plaited ribbons...the list goes on.

I had just finished my plaited ribbon class at Craft Camp so I was especially taken with the variety and workmanship of these boxes and boxes of ribbons. These ribbons are all hand woven without any needles, shuttles or tools. Truly amazing. They were mostly used as belts, but also as trims to be sewn onto the hems of garments.

After our minds were completely saturated we went down the road to Anu Raud's house. Here we were able to see some of her contemporary work which was mostly weaving and tapestry wall hangings. Her studio and works were truly inspiring and you can see her appreciation of traditional textile motifs in her work. She also raises Estonian sheep in various natural colors. She uses the wool from her sheep to mill into yarn for her tapestries.

We had a nice time relaxing outside with her sweet sheep.

Next up: Amber's field trip to Setomaa

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