I get a lot of visitors since I moved abroad. I enjoy it when friends or family come and I can give them a tour around the city. I try to show them at least a tiny bit of my life here while we are together. (It doesn’t happen very often unfortunately.) We can’t skip the highlights, of course, but I also take my loved ones to places which are not real tourist attractions, however, they are important to me.
Last week I had a special guest. Lenka, the founder of L2Studio.sk flew in from Slovakia.
I got to know her thanks to the bead shop I used to run in the capital. She was a frequent visitor: as the years passed, I have a suspicion that her personal stash of beads and components grew bigger then what we had when we first opened the shop 😀 She liked to come to our workshops and courses, too. Being an advanced beader she didn’t really need technical instructions any more, however, she always came for the sake of the company.
It was Lenka’s first time in Amsterdam, however, instead of Dam Square, Rijksmuseum or the windmills she wanted to see something else: the creative side of this highly innovative, inspiring city. There are plenty of places where Amsterdammers show off their skills and openness towards experimenting. The two days Lenka spent here were barely enough to see at least the most interesting!
A little more then a year ago Lenka founded the brand L2Studio and started to produce art quality, handmade cabochons. (Check out the newest collection here!) I was between the first beaders to work with these OOAK components and have developed quite an affection for them. Lenka traveled only with a carry-on suitcase, but guess what was taking up most of the space in her luggage 😀
First we visited Makerversity. It’s a co-working space for creatives: a cool office, where you can also get your hands dirty, and work with different wood cutting machines, sewing machines, 3D printers etc. I used to be a member for several months, met great people and learnt the basics of laser cutting. (It’s a whole story, shall I maybe put together an article for you about my beadwork laser cut into a pair of jeans and the jewellery box I designed?) Anne, the workshop-master showed us around, and we bumped into my friend, Ria Stroes, who is an artist and programmer in one person: her paintings, installations, fabrics and even jewellery are in fact coded on her computer!
While most of the tourists stay in the city center (and think that the Red Light District is a tourist attraction), we took a ferry to the Northern part of the city (together with our bikes, of course!). The boat took us to NDSM – a shipyard which went bankrupt more then 30 years ago, however, is far from uninhabited. Several groups of creatives took over the workshops and huge halls, which were used to built carriers, tankers and even war ships for the Dutch Navy.
Usually I am complaining a lot about the weather in Amsterdam. I always wanted to live near the sea, but I imagined more palm trees, sunshine and definitely less wind and rain. Lenka was very lucky regarding elements, and after visiting Makerversity and NDSM it was time to sit down for a cold drink and rest a bit. We went to De Ceuvel, which is a workplace, meeting point, event location and even more in one. Their efforts to clean the contaminated soil left behind by the shipyard also provide a playground for projects experimenting with sustainable energy. After some apple juice and a lime-rhubarb lemonade we took a walk between the houseboats – studios of artists right on the water.
After a filling, hearty dinner and a lot of talk about ideas, creative plans and beads we got a good night’s sleep, Lenka being the first one to sleep in our new guest room. We started the next morning with some graphic design lessons in Illustrator, as I showed Lenka how to draw shapes and how to add text to it. And then off to the city again, heading to Amsterdam’s most famous and oldest flea market!
The area around Rembrandt’s corner (where the famous painter used to live and create) belongs to the Jewish Quarter. Even if thousands of Jewish people found refuge in Amsterdam during the pogroms thanks to the city’s open minded culture, sadly, they didn’t have the same rights as other citizens. For example they were not allowed to open shops. Because of this the first flea and rag market of Amsterdam formed in the close vicinity of the synagogue and the homes of the Jewish refugees coming from Spain, Portugal and Eastern Europe. Sadly, many of the inhabitants and sellers perished during WWII, but the Waterlooplein flea market still flourishes! We found many stalls with interesting material, especially the hand-cut, Indian style stamps and the old coins from all over the world. Lenka left with a bag full of manadalas, trees and nicely shaped flowers and animals, which she hopes to use in her textile and ceramics art, and I will definitely go back for more, too!
I wanted to show Lenka inspiring places, but also wanted to introduce her to creative, like-minded people. My friend, Jolanta Izabela Pawlak is a jewellery maker, sculptor, ceramics and textile artist and photographer in one person. She lived in Curacao for more then a decade. Diving and swimming in the Caribbean sea deeply influenced her art. Her statement rings casted from silver and her hand painted and printed fabrics made into scarves, clothes and cushions use the motifs she encountered in this exotic corner of the world.
Lenka and Jolanta had a lot to tell to each other, however, we still had some shopping to do. Experimenting and crossing borders to find new possibilities is close to my heart in every field of art. The shop of United Nude is truly out of the box. Even if left with empty hands this time, the story of this unique shop, L2Studio cabochons and me were definitely not over yet!
Lenka planned to return to Slovakia with a lighter suitcase, however, thanks to the flea market it didn’t really work out. But in the meanwhile, her amazing L2Studio cabochons (many of them from new collections) stayed here in Amsterdam. As you saw on the pictures, we took one from the brand new Holland collection for some sightseeing. It enjoyed the laid back Amsterdam vibe very much, and now it would like to see the whole world!
Show your country to the L2studio cabochons!
You can get 5 EUR off your first cab now.
Type in your name and e-mail address, and I will e-mail you the coupon code right after. Don’t hesitate long, since in most of the cases there are only one or two cabs available from a design!
Have a nice day and have fun beading!