IDP entrepreneur helps revive Poltava’s traditional craft of carpet weaving

Dec 6, 2017

Oleksandr Dovzhenko, 53, from Donetsk, turned to the Spilnokosht crowdfunding platform to raise money for his business: creating traditional hand-made carpets and tapestries. 

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Due to the armed conflict in the east of Ukraine, Oleksandr was forced to leave his native city and move to the town of Reshetylivka in Poltava Oblast. There, he took over co-ownership of the Solomiya folk art workshop – the only maker of large-size carpets in Ukraine for the past 12 years. Today, together with the workshop’s founder Serhiy Kolinchenko, Oleksandr is developing the business and wants to bring traditional carpet weaving to a new level in Ukraine.

The creation of the carpets is a quasi-magical process: the artist first paints the full-size pattern for the carpet, then dyes the sheep’s wool threads by hand, using only natural dyes of the required shades. Only then do craftspeople begin to weave the carpets using ancient, traditional methods.

Without state support and with a shortage of skilled personnel, this type of folk craft is under threat and slowly disappearing. Oleksandr decided to start a project called "Preserve Traditions – Create the Future" to keep the craft alive. To finance it, he appealed directly to the public.

"My team and I are raising funds to improve working conditions for the craftspeople," says Oleksandr. “Light for example plays an important role in our work, so it is very important that the people working on the crafts do not have problems with their eyesight. We work with colours, and you need high-quality lighting to avoid distortion of the colouring. And proper air conditioning in the room means craftspeople feel less tired and ill."

In future, the team wants to raise funds to build a second floor for the workshop and expand its production. In the new premises, they plan to open an educational and creative arts and crafts center, where to teach carpet making. It will also house an open exhibition center, where the works of master craftspeople of Poltava Oblast will be displayed for the public. The works of art produced by the Solomiya workshop already decorate Ukrainian House in Kyiv, the Verkhovna Rada, Ukraine’s parliament, and the Presidential Administration.

"Today, the workshop employs 12 people," says Oleksandr. “We really want to expand our staff and become a cultural interest center. To implement the first stage of these changes, we need UAH 90,000 ($3,330), which we hope to raise with the help of crowdfunding."

Anybody who backs the project on the crowdfunding platform receives a gift: a souvenir magnet and a postcard, an embroidered pendant, or a real handmade tapestry featuring a national decoration.

This project is a result of the Crowdfunding Academy for entrepreneurs affected by the conflict in eastern Ukraine, which opened its doors in February 2017 in Kyiv, with the support of the British Embassy in Ukraine. Internally displaced people and residents of Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts graduated from the academy have launched crowdfunding campaigns with the continued support of UNDP.

Follow this link to make donations to this project.

See other projects launched on the Spilnokosht crowdfunding platform under the auspices of the Crowdfunding Academy here

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