Zalanpatak was established 400 years ago as a glass manufacturing village. Czechs and Germans were brought in to make glass, & their descendants live on in the area today. We thought it proper to visit the glass museum in light of this history. It was actually just an old couple’s home with a table of about ten glass vessels. The main space was broken up into his & her domain: a man’s quarters with a workshop and the woman’s quarters with the kitchen. The elderly man was in an apron ready to fix or make, and so much more. With his set-up he could turn a wooden bowl, make a harness, repair a hoe, create jewellery and anything else that he was called upon for in order to be self-sufficient. Make your space multi-functional – kitchen as dining room, dining room as workshop, workshop as anything you like.
There’s a real lack of plastic in Romania. Things are not disposable, they can be mended and fixed and this wear & tear speaks of a lifetime. We wandered past a cracked glass window in a village and rather than being replaced, the owner sewed either side with buttons to keep it from falling apart. Choose your materials carefully when you are buying things, perhaps a little more expensive initially but more likely to live to tell tales.
The most commonly recognised traditional Transylvanian textiles would have to be in stripes, seen in the tea towels and linen sacks. As well, tiny little flowers are cross-stitched into dresses or bed linen. For some reason these patterns of checks or plaids & florals & stripes now sit together in my mind, the meeting of the utilitarian stripe with the decorative floral.
My love of linen led me to this setting. I had been buying up some reworked vintage linen from one of my fave stores in NYC, Ochre. I traced them back to their source, a place north of Cluj in Transylvania. Unfortunately for me, my trip fell on Labour Day, May 1st, & I missed my opportunity to visit. I did manage to find some lovely pieces in the places I stayed and in a fortified church perched on higher ground in the medieval village of Viscri.
Create your own festivities – this fancy is inspired by the mingling of pagan rituals and religious beliefs I witnessed throughout the towns. On a late-afternoon walk we saw pine branches tied with paper streamers hung on church doors, perhaps a celebration or warding off of evil.
Other than looking like a fairytale, there is a lot of magic & mysticism surrounding the ancient area of Transylvania. Not only stories of Dracula and the Pied Piper, but I dare say Little Red Riding Hood and Goldilocks & the Three Bears amongst others originated in these areas. We hear of wolves, lynxes & bears in the forests: howling on a winter’s night, or dew sipped from the hollow of a bear’s footprint, ancient forests of tree nymphs and wood sprites. Display special pieces to conjure up your own version of magic.
My Transylvania recommendations:
Between the Woods and the Water by Patrick Leigh Fermor
Along the Enchanted Way by William Blacker
Mrs. Delaney & Her Circle Edited by Mark Laird & Alicia Weisberg-Roberts
Time of the Gypsies (film) directed by Emir Kusturica
La Strada (film) directed by Federico Fellini
Underground (film & soundtrack) directed by Emir Kusturica
Wild Flowers of the World by Barbara Everard & Brian D. Morley
Romania: A Birdwatching and Wildlife Guide by James Roberts
The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
The Mihai Eminescu Trust
For homestays and historic house rentals. The trust rescues crumbling ancient buildings, large & small – I stayed at Apafi manor.
Count Kalnoky's Estate
Zalanpatak no. 1-2, Romania Miklosvar no. 186-187, Romania
I stayed at properties in Zalanpatak and Miklosvar, but here are more dotted about.
Museum of Zoology
Clinicolor St, no. 5-7 Cluj-Napoca, Romania
Union Square, no. 28 (corner of King Ferdinand) Cluj-Napoca, Romania
37 Greenpoint Ave Brooklyn 11222 (entrance at 104 West St)
Amazing teas that transport you to far-off places. Choose one with early spring mixes of delicate orange blossom and garlands of marigold petals.
Don't worry if you missed my first styling inspiration from Transylvania, it's here.