Friday, 23 August

From Wild Flowers to Personal Adornments: The “Gisaneh” Success Story

Heghnar Petrosyan, from Armenia, loves to collect wild flowers and use them artistically. After all, she’s a painter.

The flowers she collects are painstakingly impressed on a number of personal adornments, such as rings, bracelets and necklaces. They are marketed under the name Gisaneh Handmade Accessories. 

The 35 year-old artist graduated from Yerevan’s State Academy of Art and worked at Andares Publishers as a print designer. She’s also illustrated children’s books.

The flowers soon found their way on coat hangers and even on wood frames. Heghnar shows me one hanging in her wardrobe.

Later on, the artist started using the flowers on small pieces of cardboard. At first, people were confused, thinking the flowers were pasted on wood. “People liked them. Slowly I began to think what could I do so that they could present some value. That’s when I changed the materials,” Heghnar tells me.

To make lasting ornaments, Heghnar uses silver and non-precious metals. “The notion of creating ornaments came by itself. There was no special plan,” she says.  Each piece is derived from one sample.

It takes three stages to craft a silver adornment. Heghnar says that she and a silversmith decide on the form, after which she works her magic. In the final stage, an expert then takes the piece and uses an artificial solution to veneer the piece. After the solution dries, it looks like glass. At first glance, it seems as if the flowers have been placed under a shard of glass.

“It doesn’t take long to prepare one piece, but the complete process is quite long. It takes all the day,” Heghnar says. Her husband, Arman Vahanyan, is also a painter who gives Heghnar artistic advice.

Heghnar has two daughters – Gisaneh, five years-old, is the eldest. The child has started to express an interest in ornamental art. “My husband and I are artists, so it’s kind of impossible for the kids not be influenced,” she says.

No one in Heghnar’s family is involved in art. Her mother is a biologist and her father, a dental technician.  Heghnar says that however bizarre it might sound, she’s tried to combine those two professions. She points out, for example, one of her dad’s dental tools is a mainstay on her work bench.

Most of her creations are sold over the internet and a smaller number at a small handicrafts table in Yerevan Mall. While the demand for such handiwork is great, Heghnar doesn’t consider what she does a business. “This is the work that I love, but I also make money. One can say it’s a success on both fronts,” she says.

Five years ago, when Heghnar started crafting adornments and accessories from wild flowers, she researched the market in Armenia. She says that similar items weren’t to be found. But, she says that this doesn’t mean that she was the first to come up with the idea.

While others have gotten on the band wagon and have copied the Gisaneh handmade accessories concept, Heghnar says that this is only natural when the demand for such pieces exists.

“I put energy and love into my adornments and all that I convey to my clients. I get the same back from them,” Heghnar says. She shows me envelopes full of dried flowers, gifts from her satisfied customers.

“I always have to be in some type of creative process. I miss painting a lot and hope to return to it, but there’s not enough time. I have loads of ideas that I will slowly work on.

Photo of H. Petrosyan by Davit Banouchyan

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