Mothers of Kalevala, Lemminkäisen äiti - Seth Apter Creative Team


Moikka, it's again third week of the month, which means a new series for Seth Apter Creative Team. As May is the time for Mother's Day, I thought to go with that angle and mix it with Finland. This month the three-day series is about mothers in Kalevala, Finnish national epic. I'm drawing inspiration from one character for each piece and use a variety of mediums to depict her. You can find Seth Apter's site here (link) and more about the Creative team here (link). I've included a list of products to the end of the post with links to Seth's own store.

What the three posts also have in common, other than the topic, is that I'm using an image transfer technique in each project. The images I'm using in the pieces are from a website called Pexels. All of them are free to use, even without reference, but I'm always linking to the original photo I then edited for my project and mention the photographer if he or she is mentioned in the site. 

Third thing that the projects have in common is the use of an old book cover as the base for the piece. This is partly inspired by the main source of inspiration, Kalevala. The covers are of different sizes and colors, mainly picked because of the latter, so I could go with the color theme I had in my head. I've also included pieces of the book spine in the main composition of each piece.

In the first project I drew inspiration from Ilmatar, the creator (link). For this second project I chose a mother who might have even smaller role in Kalevala, but in my opinion should have a larger role. I'm talking about a character who even doesn't have her own name, but who's referred to as Lemminkäisen äiti, "mother of Lemminkäinen". Lemminkäinen himself is one of the heroes of Kalevala - a beautiful, hot-headed man, who has a way with women. Here's the Wikipedia article of him (link). But like in the Ilmatar case, without the female figure, the story would end short. While in pursuit of one of gorgeous daughters of Louhi, the queen of the norther realm of Pohjola, Lemminkäinen gets killed. Her mother knows something is wrong when her comb starts to bleed. She then relentlessly searches for her son, finally gets a magical rake and descends to the underworld to pull up the body of her son from the river Tuonela. The body of Lemminkäinen is in pieces, so she fishes all of the parts from the river, sews everything together and then sends a bee up to Ukko, the heaven god, to fetch drops of golden honey to bring her son back to life.

Lemminkäisen äiti is a self-sacrificing and tireless defender of her child. I feel so sad that she's only known as an addition to a male character (mother of) and not by her own name. In a way she's the complete opposite of the third character I'm drawing inspiration from. Lemminkäisen äiti is all for the family.

I guess if you read the story of this mom, you can understand my color choices. The healing honey and bee are present but also the warmth and nurture of Lemminkäisen äiti. In a way I see her as a bee, relentless working for the family and home, defending it if needed. If Ilmatar was water and air, then Lemminkäisen äiti is sun and light.    

Like I said in the previous paragraph, I kind of see the character as a bee besides the actual bee connected to her story. That's why I wanted to use a picture of a bee for the image transfer. This photo is by David Hablützel, which I then edited and printed. Here's the link to the original photo (link). To further emphasize the connection to bees I added some actual beeswax to my project. I bought quite a load of it some time ago and have been waiting for a perfect chance to experiment. This project cried for some of that! I melted some of the wax to the main composition, but used it also to adhere the stamped word in the end.

While the focal point continues the bee theme, I added some other elements in there as well. There's two sewing needled sticking on the side of the composition, for example. They reflect the mother's task of sewing the body of her son back together but also the stinger of the bees. There's also a honey toned jewel in there to echo the life bringing drop of honey, a butterfly wing for the flight and a wreath. There's a Finnish saying, loosely translated "suffer, suffer and you'll be granted the most luminous crown". Somehow I always start to recall that when thinking about Lemminkäisen äiti. The wreath in this case refers to the laurels given to the ancient winners of the Olympic games. 

For this project I used another quick transfer technique, or rather a medium. I transferred the printed bee to the background with the help of Pentart "Express Transfer Solution". I think it's citrus oil of some sorts. The solution works on top of absorbing surfaces like paper, wood or fabric. For my project I used a layer of gesso to get the layer more absorbing than an acrylic glaze I had on there. It worked otherwise really nicely, but I should have dried the layers a bit more or allowed them more drying time. The fun thing about this transfer way is again it being speedy - like me! 

Like I say in the video, I chose a word to represent the character I'm depicting as the last detail. I use the same stamp set for all of the three pieces, but naturally choose a different word. For Lemminkäisen äiti I chose "Curator". The Finnish translation of the word makes me immediately think about museums and the collection curators there, but I meant it as a guardian, a trustee in this case. After all, Lemminkäisen äiti is the guardian of her son, even defying death and underworld to save him. 

Thank you for stopping by today! Hopefully you'll be back tomorrow for the third and final project!  


Materials: PaperArtsy, Aladine, StencilGirl, Impression Obsession, Prima Marketing, Ranger, Sizzix, Posca, Fimo

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