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Julianna Puławska

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“When I die, I am going to miss sewing the most,” confesses Ms. Julianna Puławska. She is 80 years’ old and she has been spending every moment of her free time with a needle since early childhood. She admits that farm work has never interested her; even when she had her own family, she was able to sew and embroider because her mother-in-law helped her a lot. When she turned twelve, Ms. Julianna Puławska started helping her mother with embroidering shirts and tray cloths. She reached the level of a true master. In 1997, the Museum in Wyszków organised a monographic exhibition of her works; earlier, she became the laureate of the award of Oskar Kolberg. Thanks to sewing, Julianna Puławska visited Lithuania, Sweden and all parts of Poland.

She decorates shirts, tablecloths, tray cloths and table runners with traditional Kurpie embroidery. Apart from embroidery on fabrics and tulle, she also makes Easter eggs decorated with bulrush and wool. Laborious embroidery work requires great concentration. Making one tablecloth 170 cm wide takes two weeks of incessant work of an experienced and skillful embroiderer. Making a set of tray cloths lasts over a week.

“You cannot use a machine to do it. After embroidering, you have to wash it and iron the cloth when it is still wet so that the embroidery looks well. In the past, we used to embroider only with a red thread. Because red is the colour of Christ’s blood and our regional colour. But now, we also use various shades of blue – this is the clients’ request. The first order for blue embroidery came from the Cloth Hall in Kraków. I have never produced Łowicz embroidery and embroidery from Kurpie Zielone, because you cannot do just everything.”

What is needed to embroider like this? “You have to have embroidery in your blood,” daughter of Julianna has no doubts about it. But you also have to learn. This does not come immediately. And you have to like it.

“I have always liked it. Some tablecloths that were sent to competitions ended up in several ethnographical museums. I can sew quickly. I am only angry when I make a mistake and have to unravel. My daughter was learning embroidery, my neighbours came over to learn, but somehow, they did not take to it. You have to like it,” explains Julianna. She passes on her skills during meetings with young people. She has been cooperating with many museums for a number of years and in the period of Christmas and Easter she participates in workshops devoted to holiday customs and traditions, as well as holiday fairs.

The artist’s works are kept in museums in Warsaw, Węgorzewo, Wyszków, Łomża, Toruń and Ostrołęka. The artist has countless awards and distinctions for her embroidery and for her Easter eggs. The Minister of Culture and National Heritage honoured her with a special award.

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07-214 Zatory
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Contact is possible via Kuźnia Kurpiowska in Pniewo.