The International Trust for Croatian Monuments

Flax and Linen Project in Ivanic Grad.

Above:  Nevenka Radocaj, one of our young weavers, with her husband and her hand-woven towels
The first field of flax was sown in Vezisce, the birth place of the famous Croatian opera singer, Milka Ternina, in 1997, with an initial and generous donation from the interior designer, Nina Campbell. Since then, with the full engagement of the Open University in Ivanic Grad, under the directorship of Palma Klun Posavec, we have all tried our best to revive this ancient art of growing flax and making beautiful linen. Once this was a way of life in Posavina, as in other parts of Croatia, but sadly totally neglected since the 2nd World War.

Much has happened in the interweaving years, many miles of flax were spun by hand, a donation, from the Australian Embassy in Croatia in the form of several hand-operated spinning machines, was gratefully received. Her Majesty The Queen of the Belgians ordered at one point a substantial number of towels. We have tried to concentrated basically on producing lovely towels, although napkins, mats and pillow-cases are also made. The Agricultural Department of the University of Zagreb is still making trials to establish which sort of flax seed would be best for the climate of the region. From the beginning, the County of Zagreb has supported the project and some years ago these items were voted the best souvenirs of the region.

During these years, old tools and looms have been restored and a small holding of one of the weavers improved to facilitate the growing of flax and its preparation. A major article by a textile conservator at the British Museum, Pippa Cruickshank, appeared in a British Museum publication. Articles in newspapers and magazines, in Croatia and England, helped to sustain the project, especially the article, "Fresh Linen", published in Gardens Illustrated, December 2002/January 2003.

In England, many people have helped with the sales of these towels so lovingly produced; Margaret Howell, The Linen Merchant, Volga Linen, Postcard Teas and Livingstone Studio. For the project to survive, it is important to sell. After 30 years of heading the Ivanic Grad Open University, Palma Klun Posavec has now retired. Depending on the interests of the new director, the project may continue under the wing of the University. If not, there is another charitable organisation which may take it over. What we do know is that, after so many years of trying to make it viable, it would be terribly sad to have to abandon it, especially since we know that all the weavers are very keen to continue, finding it, yet again, a way of life.

Postcard Teas and Livingstone Studio still sell our towels, and I always have some in my own home, so if you are interested, please contact the Trust. We do not want it just to stop, it has opened many doors to many people, and we want it all to continue.

 

To mark the 20th anniversary of the renewal of diplomatic relations between Japan and Croatia, Prince Akishino and Princess Kiko visited Croatia in June 2013. Their Royal Highnesses spent some time in the Ethno - House, "Mother's Tale", where the "Flax and Linen Workshop" from Ivanic Grad was also represented. Several of our weavers were present at this occasion.
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"Days of European Heritage", Open University Ivanic Grad, September 2015:
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