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Bogdan Sawicki - Enchanted with Amber

 

Amber - a natural, organic fossil resin, has been a fascination for numerous artists and handicraft designers for many years. In contemporary jewellery, amber: its colours, internal structures, organic inclusions, or even the degree of weathering inspire those who use this magical substance to create extraordinary works of art. Every artist aims at bringing the charming beauty out of amber; imbue the work of art with their own individual character; and achieve distinguishing idea, while not neglecting the functionality.

Warsaw's Bogdan Sawicki, who founded the “Bursztyn” company in 1982, long ago enchanted with amber, devoted to it 30 years of his work as an artist. Today, he experiments with the technology of processing the type of amber commonly known as “slag” (dark amber with organic inclusions). The name (as explained by Prof. B. Kosmowska-Ceranowicz) has nothing to do with fire: it was made in old, withering trees that still produce resin which stuck together miniature plant detritus. The content of amber that in such types of the gem is only a binding agent, is greatly varied: sometimes very little, which causes low density of the piece and, in result, requires special processing. Bogdan Sawicki is an inventor of an original technology that enables surface “cleaning” of amber while preserving its natural structures and “rawness” of the material. The artist worked five-or-so years on perfecting his own technology (the particular method of processing is his close-kept secret to this day). He applies it in his work on “an incredibly interesting type of white-bluish amber, sometimes with an addition of plant detritus, or a white one with detritus called dappled amber.” (Prof B. Kosmowska-Ceranowicz”)

He started his work as a self-taught amber jeweller. His first encounter with amber goes back to a family holiday in Vistula Spit in Sztutowo in 1976. Strolling along the beach he had found his first pieces of amber. The walk yielded an abundant collection several kilograms of amber treasure that Bogdan Sawicki brought back to Warsaw. This hatched his new passion that a few years later resulted in a change of career (in 1982 he graduated from the Faculty of Law and Administration, University of Warsaw; with a diploma in Administration). Starting his own company dealing with amber processing and jewellery-making was a new challenge and - especially in the 1980s, the most difficult decade in Polish recent history - a significant risk.

His first pieces of amber he cut on a hand-operated grinder he made himself using an old washing machine motor. Relentless and determined in his life choice, enchanted with amber, he step-by-step gained the knowledge and experience. He worked as an apprentice at Mirosław Mietz's jewellery workshop in Warsaw; in 1985 finished a course in decorative metalwork at the Vocational Training Centre (Zakład Doskonalenia Zawodowego); and in 1987 passed his journeyman examination at Chamber of Crafts in Warsaw as amber jeweller. For years he has specialised in amber processing (using specialist equipment since 1990). He provides wares and semi-finished products for artists and himself designs and produces jewellery articles made from amber mostly coming from Kaliningrad.

Necklets, pednants, necklaces, brooches, bracelets and rings designed by Bogdan Sawicki and his wife, Elżbieta, combine the passion of creating an artistic and functional object with the need to find a unique, individual jewellery form. Characteristic elements persist in all made, shown, and sold valuables - the artists merit the simplicity of the form, minimising the setting and a kind of “raw beauty” of their creation. Silver amber settings are delicate, linear and flagellar; charms and pendants are often born with a simple string of finespun linen. Within the rich offer of Sawicki company there are also amber beads and so-called “amber gems” pieces of amber set in silver, openwork bases. The artist selects and designs unique forms of particular elements of beads, necklaces and pendants in his own special way - in most cases he retains the original shapes of amber, gently polishing the surface, and his imagination and artistic sense bring about pure, simple, and original settings. This type of jewellery is elegant in its simplicity and closely connected with the best lines of contemporary jewellery.

Elżbieta and Bogdan Sawicki exhibited their first jewellery articles in Dalia Wojnowska's “DW ART” Gallery in Warsaw. For 30 years they have run their own, highly popular, seasonal showroom in Krynica Morska. Creations of the “Bursztyn” (Amber) company make up private collections and on numerous occasions have been displayed during professional fairs in Poland and around the world. For more than ten years the company has been exhibiting in AMBERIF International Fair of Amber, Jewellery and Gemstones and the Gold Silver Time, Jewellery & Watch Fair in Warsaw.

Written by: Iwona Korgul-Wyszatycka

 

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