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‘Out of the past flows the future’ - Izvorje

Nestled in the foothills of the Gornji Milanovac Mountains Rudnik in the north and Vujan in the south, there is Izvorje, a small scale weaving business  straddling the past  and the future. Izvorje's  elegantly rustic fabrics, throws and cushions, woven wall coverings and old 'shepherd - style' handbags in wholesome, subtle colours have an appealing aesthetic, and mercifully the brand causes mere pleasant sensations.


Inspired by intricate but traditional weaving techniques and organic forms , these patterns fuse strong Serbian cultural identity with a modern twist. Serbian rich heritage surely forms part of the very fabric of this small scale business.

“There is something different about a hand-woven piece,” I keep saying. Izvorje surely presents their distinctively textured weaves. “The emotions of the weaver are captured in the subtle irregularities of the fabric.” In a world over-filled with machine-made objects all around us in this age of consumerism, clothing included, tradition, provenance and cultural heritage are certainly becoming hugely important again. Most of us tend to love cultural  heritage passed over from " the good, old days".  The idea of buying something with a story unfolding in the background seems to appeal to us all.  All of Izvorje  textiles are handmade in their workshop; even the yarns are custom-made or custom-spun , so to speak.. there is a “lumpy and palpable” quality to their garments  which give them so much texture and aura.   Their brand name surely carries weight locally.


Almost for a decade now, apt hands of the weavers from the  Izvorje association produce contemporary-looking and artistically shaped woven garments in line with the typical patterns of times way back. The most relevant, brand new entries of much-sought after fashion trends 'as if woven out of one's dreams' of this day and age and right from the heritage of times  bygone have been presented at their exhibitions over the past years.


This art group is composed of female handmade artists who tend to create unique handcraft only. They come from Belgrade and Gornji Milanovac, Serbia : Ljiljana Trandafilović, Snežana Ladolež, Gordana Predragović, Bosiljka Cvijetićanin, Zorica Komar, Slobodanka Salcberger Ivković, Ana Hrnjak and Ivanka Vidojević. Their mission and vision are to get the traditional ethno-folklore creativity closer to the person of today. The group members explain that they present at the exhibitions what techniques and 'loops' they  have 'mastered' so far i.e. how they tend to make use of fine yarn in a multitude of colours and shades. This group is self-sufficient in that they live off their own earnings, which is not that common in this industry.



That is the reason why the museum curator, Radoš Gačić, the editor of the art section in the Cultural Centre in Gornji Milanovac says that this is the most beautiful artistic continuation of the traditional Serbian handmade weaving. The fashion trends of our grandmothers and great-grandmothers are being adapted to our time and then passed on to younger generations. In so doing, weaving as such is being 'captured', materialized and preserved so as not to fall into oblivion - says Mr Gačić.


These ladies and most probably all the weavers world wide took their first steps underneath a loom and learned the craft from their mothers and grandmothers , and their great grandmothers. For some of the locals ,  the workshops such as this one, were their playground and the clack of the shuttles were their  background noise they got used to over time.  “There was a real similarity between that surrounding landscape of Gornji Milanovac and these superb woven fabrics”  “It strikes  a chord each time I go there - a local keeps saying.

Hopefully they will be able to  find  apt pairs of hands  to weave their wondrous creations in the years to come for as long as they can in the foreseeable future, or alternatively begin training the locals at the looms. It would be a shame not to instill these superb skills upon the future generations.


These apt pairs of hands keep bringing their designs back to life in a range of flamboyant cushions, rugs, throws, woven wall coverings , handbags. Hopefully, they will keep the looms moving so that these see their heyday again in the same way as their grandmothers' iconic designs using the very same looms . ‘I thoroughly enjoy looking at these large spools from which the yarn is fed on to the loom whenever I see such a scene anywhere I choose to travel.‘

Some fabrics have been reimagined, with colours and yarns adapted to current tastes, whereas some of the textiles are faithful reproductions of yesteryear.


These hard working ladies have surely taken the classic craft of weaving  and turned it into a sophisticated means of construction, creating a range of most superb products defined by their textural quality, either strong or pastel colours to make them look picture perfect but still rather simply shaped.

Some interesting trivia about Izvorje


-          these ladies got together in the year 2004 with the aim to both preserve and improve this beautiful old handcraft lest it falls into oblivion.


-      all the ladies, the weaving members of Izvorje, completed a weaving course in Manakova kuća,  Belgrade, Serbia


-          in 2007 they officially registered as  a non profit organization (i.e.  udruženje građana) with the Serbian  Companies House (APR)


-          over time the number of members have changed to some extent.  Now,  there are seven of them.


-          the association as such is self sufficient solely funded from their own earnings with the unwavering support from their families and friends


-          one of their sources of income is a school of weaving  i.e. weaving courses they organize which are normally attended by a few dozen  women participants.


-          over the past 18 years they have participated in more than a hundred exhibitions and events


-          their superb clothing items have been commissioned to feature in a number of movies or in marketing promotional campaigns for a number of companies.


-          one of the highlights of their work were the trips to the north of Norway in 2012 and 2019


-          thanks to their friend from the USA, they had an exhibition in California organized by a local weaving association.


-          all these wonderfully talented and hard working  ladies have between 10 and 40 years of weaving experience each.



written by   SERBIAN for FOREIGNERS with Natasha

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