Vladislav Ivanov and Kremena Ivanova are an artist family from Veliko Tarnovo, Bulgaria. They have been making their beautiful ceramic beads as Golem Design Studios since 2000. They have been working in the field of ceramic and glazes for almost 20 years.
Living on a crossroad between Europe and Asia they have developed eclectic interests and tastes, which are reflected in each of their beads and pendants. Although their work cannot be associated with any specific national tradition or style, they incorporate patterns taken from a variety of ancient and contemporary art forms. They find inspiration from different parts of the world and ages. There are some patterns taken from the pre-Columbian art of Latin America, a pinch of Viking and Celtic art, much of prehistoric art as a whole, as well as adding something of their own.
From the time he was a small boy, Vladislav loved to make small things from clay, modeling clay; and later on wax, which was his favorite medium. In high school, he studied woodcarving for two years. He also began his great fascination with history, especially archaeological artifacts. He loves to visit archaeological sites and museums. He was also very interested in chemistry, mostly because he was quite intrigued with the magic of fire. To this day, he is still fascinated by the almost magical high temperature reactions between metals and non-metal elements.
He studied education at the Veliko Tarnovo University to become a teacher. However, he continued to pursue his interest of making things, starting his own research and experiments in the area of reproduction of archaeological artifacts from different epochs, using different materials and techniques. It was there in the department of “Fine and Applied Arts”, that he discovered ceramic arts; the perfect marriage of art history and chemistry. He was extremely excited to the discover all the unlimited shaping and decorating techniques, all the different clays and unlimited palette of colors, the excitement of opening each kiln filing and the promises for even greater miracles in the next one.
After finishing university with a MA in Pedagogic, Fine and Applied Arts he started work as a primary school teacher. While he enjoyed teaching, it was far from satisfying for Vladislav, he desired an independence inspired by centuries old traditions of craftsmen in his family tree. On his mother’s side, there had been generations of blacksmiths, carpenters, woodcarvers, and silversmiths. His grandfather was a very skilled blacksmith and carpenter. He longed to create a life based on making things with his own hands. He quit his job as a teacher in the year 2000 and became a full time self-employed artist. Vladislav’s ceramic "passion" was very "infectious" - his wife Kremena got the "clay bug" from him soon after they married. She started making pots and other objects in 1997 - 1998, and in the year 2001 she ended her teaching career too. That was the official beginning of Golem Design Studio.
The name of their studio comes from an old legend. According to legend the Golem was an artificial clay man, made by the Rabbi Yehuda Leow Bezalel. This clay man was a servant to his creator until one day he suddenly stopped being obedient to his master. He became a rebel and devastated half of the town Prague, which was at the time the capital of the Bohemian or Moravian kingdom. ( currently the capital of the Czech Republic). According to the legend all this happened in the sixteenth century. What they liked about this story was the idea that the fate of human creations does not usually lie in the hands of its creator, and in the end, it is about a guy made of CLAY - they felt close to him and they chose him for their name and logo.
Vladislav and Kremena have a very interesting blog, where they share their experiences as ceramic bead artists. If you would like to learn more about their fascinating process of making beads, see their post about how they shape our beads, then a post about their favorite carving techniques, then a post about how they glaze their work, and finally a post about how about the firing process.
Click picture to the left to discover the beads Vladislav and Kremena have made for us and we know you will fall in love with them just as we have. We hope you will share the jewelry designs you come up with using these beautiful and unique beads from Golem Design Studios.