Liepāja has a wealth of disused and attractive looking buildings just waiting for development. Whilst it would be a shame if they were to lose their character it is equally heartbreaking seeing them just sitting going to ruin.
In the backstreets of one of the cities developing areas is a district devoted to artisans producing handcrafted items in the traditional Latvian manner.
There are a number of artists and sculptors sharing one of the houses, some men making medals, trophies, rings and ornate brooches the same way much of Europe has now forgotten.
Artists work in amber, making intricate designs of bracelets and necklaces or with cloth, hand stitching large, spookily life-like dolls. Reeds and wood are used for basket weaving or Russian dolls and of course textiles are produced to make scarves, bed linen and traditional clothing.
It takes decades to learn these skills properly and many crafts are extremely laborious especially the weaving of cloth on looms which are set up and worked with their hands and feet. Depending on the experience of the weaver and the intricacy of the pattern approximately 30cm to 1.5m of cloth can be produced in a single day.
Some complex patterns are produced and just setting up the machine with the required threads in the correct configuration can take several days. The weaver will usually produce several metres of cloth and then cut it to size for different items such as bed throws, scarves or table cloths. Embroidering is also included on some items which adds yet more time to the process of completion and patience is not a virtue it is a requirement here!
Browsing the community shop afterwards there were plenty of attractive items to tempt would be buyers, including many potential souvenirs but there are also practical goods which the locals are likely to purchase.
It is heartening to see that these lovely buildings are being developed tastefully and that the local craftsmen have a home to ply their trade keeping their traditional skills alive.