In 1993, Mara Vakoš started a workshop in Osijek, as she says, “with the aim of preserving, nurturing, and making folk handicrafts for the purpose of applying and affirming the cultural and traditional heritage of Slavonia and Baranja.” In 2013 she was granted a Certificate of Traditional Craft (Uvjerenje o tradicionalnom obrtu) from the Croatian Chamber of Trades and Crafts. She employs traditional craft techniques in making both useful items and souvenirs, in an effort to keep eastern Croatia’s heritage alive and to bring attention to the beautiful work that has been handed down from generation to generation.
All of her work is produced by hand using the old techniques. She practices all types of needlework, including colorful embroidery (vez), gold embroidery (zlatovez), openwork embroidery (šlinganje), and crochet (heklanje or kukičanja). She makes clothing and home goods from “domestic materials that are produced by old weaving techniques…[to] encourage the survival of old crafts.”
Mara’s style of zlatovez is a technique of hand embroidering “gold on paper,” a complex technique using two threads. Beads and sequins are added to create a brilliant dimensional effect. Her designs are inspired from motifs that she finds on scarfs, shawls, and aprons from traditional Slavonian folk costume. She then creates sparkling jewelry and accessories that can be worn on the most formal occasions. You can read more about the history of zlatovez here.
We at DOMA Trading are dedicated to the true craftspeople who are sharing their heritage with us. When you purchase a piece of Mara’s artwork, you are truly purchasing a piece of history, which has been crafted with techniques that have been passed down for generations.
Mara is devoted to the culture of Slavonia and Baranja, which is her inspiration. She wrote:
“Osijek grad imao je gradske nošnje. Meni je inspiracija cijela Slavonija to jest sela gdje su se nosile narodne nošnje. Koje su jako bogate i raznolike…u Slavoniju se održavaju Đakovački vezovi ili Vinkovačke jeseni. To je bogastvo Hrvatske tu dođu iz cijele Hrvatske u izvornim narodnim nošnjama to je hrana za dušu dobijete puno ideja za radit.”
“The city of Osijek had city costumes. I am inspired by the whole of Slavonia, that is, the villages where folk costumes were worn. Which are very rich and diverse…in Slavonia there are Đakovački vezovi or Vinkovačke jeseni. This is the treasure of Croatia. They come from all over Croatia in original folk costumes. It is food for the soul.”
The two festivals that Mara mentions are the largest annual craft festivals in Slavonija. Đakovački vezovi (Đakovo Embroidery Festival) is held every year in July, and Vinkovačke jeseni (Vinkovci Autumn) is held every September.