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Etsy Around the World: Latvia

Apr 7, 2014

by Lisa Butterworth

Etsy.com handmade and vintage goods

Etsy is an international community of designers, creators, artists and entrepreneurs that grows every day. In this series, we’re spinning the globe to take a closer look at country-specific maker scenes around the world. Check out our first post on Israel’s maker culture.

Latvia boasts a booming DIY community. The proof is in the amazing array of items offered by Latvian Etsy shops — intricate knits, expertly woven housewares, unique toys, and jewelry both subtle and statement making — made using both traditional and modern techniques.

Read on for a look into this large creative community in one of Europe’s smaller countries.

Craft is a Way of Life

“Latvians have always been good artisans and craftsmen,” say Lidija Hlinova and Jane Dorosenko, the fashion-forward duo behind Yayoi jewelry. Making things by hand is a given in this small country on the Baltic Sea. Alise Grauduže of DinDinToys, a shop full of wooden blocks and games made from birch wood harvested by her husband, notes that DIY starts at a very young age. “Girls learn how to knit, sew, crochet, embroider, and weave. Boys learn how to work with wood,” she says. “When they become adults, they continue to do what they have learned at school.” Anna and Ilze Zurina, the mother-daughter team behind SmArtAnna jewelry agree: “For us, creative culture is a common part of life — it is present in our work, hobbies, and family.”

yayoi-jewelry-latvia-etsy

YAYOIjewelry

Lidija Hlinova and Jane Dorosenko at work making jewelry.

The Republic of Latvia was founded in 1918, but in 1940, after the start of WWII, it was forcibly incorporated into the Soviet Union, which, after a short reign by Nazi Germany, kept control of the small country until it regained its independence in 1991. “My generation remembers the time of Soviet Union occupation, where there was a deficit of different goods and products — shop shelves were half-empty, there was no choice,” says Vija Petersone, who expertly weaves baskets, trays, and frames from a rich palette of wicker. “We were knitting and sewing because of necessity.”

vija-wicker-etsy-latvia

Viyaswickerworks

Vija at work.

The recent recession hit the country hard, contributing to its booming DIY culture. “More and more people [in Latvia] make things for themselves,” says Elina Sidauga, who screenprints geometric designs on totes and notebooks and handknits mittens for her shop MyLiveLove. “Salary level is not as high in Latvia as in other countries, but we have such excellent taste. So it brings us to the necessity of making things ourselves.”

With just over 2 million inhabitants, Latvia’s population is very small, and as Anna and Ilke say, “Since so many people are DIY masters, it is not easy to start a creative business and make a living from it.” That’s where Etsy comes in. “It was my dream to sell my own handmade products but it seemed unreal until I found Etsy,” says Sidauga. “So I can truly say that Etsy gave me a chance to make my dream come true.”

Shop the Scene

Here’s a selection of items proudly made in Latvia.

Wind Chime
by olique on Etsy

For more wonderful stories about Latvian Etsy sellers, check out these features from our archives:

Featured Shop: Ergretta Garzetta
Featured Shop: yellOkids
Featured Shop: ZIB Textile
Handmade Portraits: Yevgeniya’s Masks

What country’s makers would you like to see featured on the blog? Let us know in the comments!

Harvest time decor Woven jewelry chest Wicker treasur box Eco friendly gift Ethnic home decor Wicker sugar basin
Harvest time decor Woven jewelry chest Wicker treasur box Eco friendly gift Ethnic home decor Wicker sugar basin
Sold
MIDNIGHT WATERS Avant Garde necklace with blue quartz crystals. Deep Navy Blue. statement jewelry. quartz necklace. crystal. bold necklace
MIDNIGHT WATERS Avant Garde necklace with blue quartz crystals. Deep Navy Blue. statement jewelry. quartz necklace. crystal. bold necklace
$294.42 USD
Oak Wood Bike Hanger "Elk" by Woodstick Ltd.
Oak Wood Bike Hanger "Elk" by Woodstick Ltd.
$331.83 USD
A5 size hand screen printed notebook sketch book stationary geometric print
A5 size hand screen printed notebook sketch book stationary geometric print
Sold
Leather Collar Necklace Colorful Necklace Yellow, Pink, Corall and Teal Blue Peter Pan Detachable Collar Neon Necklace
Leather Collar Necklace Colorful Necklace Yellow, Pink, Corall and Teal Blue Peter Pan Detachable Collar Neon Necklace
$48.00 USD
Paper mache kid-goat mask
Paper mache kid-goat mask
Sold
Wind Chime
Wind Chime
$95.00 USD
SALE! Handmade wooden blocks, eco friendly toys, children wooden toys.
SALE! Handmade wooden blocks, eco friendly toys, children wooden toys.
$14.72 USD
Sacred Cat. Acrylic on Canvas. Original Art Painting by Anna Grincuka
Sacred Cat. Acrylic on Canvas. Original Art Painting by Anna Grincuka
$300.00 USD
RESERVED FOR LAURA Harvest table decor Woven plate Rustic interior home decor Ethnic wheat ear pattern Green and chestnut brown
RESERVED FOR LAURA Harvest table decor Woven plate Rustic interior home decor Ethnic wheat ear pattern Green and chestnut brown
Sold
Wedding Ring Box Wedding Ring Bearer Wedding Ring Holder Wedding Ring Pillow Alternative 5th Anniversary Gift Rustic Wedding Wood Heart Box
Wedding Ring Box Wedding Ring Bearer Wedding Ring Holder Wedding Ring Pillow Alternative 5th Anniversary Gift Rustic Wedding Wood Heart Box
$28.31 USD
Baby Clothes Toddler clothes Knit Hoodie sweater Baby clothing Baby gift Gray Coming home outfit
Baby Clothes Toddler clothes Knit Hoodie sweater Baby clothing Baby gift Gray Coming home outfit
$46.60 USD
Rustic Wedding photo album, Wedding photo album,  300 photos, Embroidered Photo album, Bridal shower book, Anniversary gift, memory album
Rustic Wedding photo album, Wedding photo album, 300 photos, Embroidered Photo album, Bridal shower book, Anniversary gift, memory album
Sold

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