They are cousins. Both come from Janow (Yavoriv Raion, Lviv oblast) that until the 1980s was one of the major Ukrainian toy-making centres, boasting over 200 years of tradition.

Oksana and Ostap have been working on restoring the Yavoriv toy making, treating it scientifically and sentimentally.  “Just like whole generations of kids, we have grown up with those toys. Old makers departed, taking the beautiful tradition with them, and new makers brought traditional doll down to the level of a kitschy souvenir” – as they say, this is what inspired them to take up this unique craft.  Their work is modelled on the oldest items found in the Lviv National Museum, Ethnographic Museum, or private collections. Ostap makes toys, whereas Oksana decorates them.  Their toys include horses, often with carts or chaises, birds with flapping wings, miniature instruments and a whole range of carousels with swings, dancing couples, processions.

Yavoriv toys were mostly made of aspen wood which, according to popular belief, chases away evil powers. They are decorated with a beautiful traditional ornament known as verbivka – all decorations (flowers, leaves) resemble willow branches. The Yavoriv toys are mostly green (standing for grass and leaves) and red ( the colour of ripe fruit). At the beginning of the 20th century, yellow was added to the aforementioned colours (the colour of the sun). Natural dyes have been replaced with acrylic paints.

Original text: Marta Graban-Butryn.