lithaz.org: home & art/culture events organizations publications
2/10/2011
Straw ornaments by
Ona Norvilas
O. Norvilas

Ona Uselytė Norvilas was born on February 7, 1914 in Švėkšna, Lithuania, a little more than 20 miles southeast from the port city of Klaipėda. Švėkšna is in the western region of Lithuania called Samogitia. Like many other Lithuanians, Ona and her family were forced to leave home during World War II, and eventually settled in Chicago.

Because of a lifetime of preparing food and the cooking classes that she took in Lithuania as a young woman, Ona Norvilas acquired a reputation in the Chicago area as an expert in Lithuanian cooking. Her help was sought for a variety of social and religious events in the Lithuanian community and she also worked for a Lithuanian delicatessen in Chicago's Marquette Park. The Chicago Tribune even did a feature article about her and her recipes.

Because of her association with the Balzekas Museum of Lithuanian Culture, she became interested in making straw ornaments to decorate her own Christmas trees. The ornaments shown here are the result of many hours of painstaking and delicate work required to make ornaments from natural straw. The designs, although based on traditional Lithuanian themes, show great originality. The designs are two-dimensional and symmetrical with 4-fold, 6-fold and 8-fold rotational symmetry.


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(photos by R. Vaitkus)