Russian Straw Paintings

Making straw paintings is not as simple as some might think, It’s not just a question of placing the straws on the canvas and gluing it into place. First, Irina has to pick out the right kind of straw. She works with a variety of cereal plants, from wheat, rye, oats and barley, to rice and buckwheat, but she can’t just buy them from anywhere. She either has to plant them herself or pick them out by hand from the field, because the ripeness of the plant plays a very important role in the quality of the straw. Once she has the raw material, it needs to go through processing. Each straw tube is boiled in hot water with ammonia for 3-5 minutes , then they are cut to size and ironed on several layers of newspapers which absorb all the moisture. Then she uses white glue to stick the straws onto paper, from which she cuts all the desired shapes for her artworks. Some straws are bleached with perhydrol, others are darkened with pyrography techniques and some are simply dyed.” w/ photos

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