While crafts were typically a male profession in the past, women are nowadays breaking stereotypes and becoming an important link in tourism with their products and crafts. Danche Naumoska from Ohrid is the only woman in the city who processes copper. She inherited the trade from her father, who was a coppersmith all his life. As she grew up over the years, her love for the craft was born and she decided to engage in this activity. 22 years ago, she introduced novelties and began making works of art from copper in a different, innovative and unique way, all with her own hands. She makes products with Ohrid-specific, traditional and religious motifs, as well as free art and jewelry.
“My father is a coppersmith and, even as a child, I was present in his workshop very often and would help him, hold things for him, I was like an apprentice. When the time came for me to have my own family, my love for the craft somehow woke up. I wanted to make something to decorate my home, and then went on to make more products to start a business. I have been doing this effectively for 22 years," Naumoska says. While caldrons and other copper objects were the most popular in her father's workshop in the past, what is now demanded more and more are souvenirs that are unique and have their own specifics.
The material used most commonly is copper. A combination of various techniques of oxidation and gilding is applied to produce different shades of copper - brown, silver, gold and blue. In the past, crafts were typically men's professions, highly valued and rather lucrative. “I for one have inherited the trade, and now my son is also showing an affinity to work. You need to love the work to do something creative; you need to have a feeling, but also dedication. It is not enough to simply think ‘I have heirs and they must inherit the craft’. Indeed, one should really approach any trade with love", Naumoska says.
She uses copper and gold plating to make replicas of the golden mask and glove, as well as other authentic Ohrid motifs. She says the goal is to present the rich cultural heritage of Ohrid to tourists. “I make the golden masks, which are authentic and something original from Ohrid and Macedonia. I want to present our traditional culture and pass it on. I make the golden masks from copper with gilding; generally, copper is my main material for processing with various techniques and chemicals for silvering, darkening, and gilding. I draw on it and get something unique that remains as something of permanent values for future generations", coppersmith Danche Naumoska says.
For Danche, work must not only be a profession, but just as much pleasure as well. This creative work makes her feel fulfilled, happy and content. Her creations include a self-portrait, with the blue lake, fish, history and our cultural heritage being the greatest inspiration for all beautiful things. Her weakness is undiscovered, untouched things, those things that no one has managed to destroy. She makes paintings, works of art, objects and jewelry from copper. “Those of us who are engaged in handcrafting present the culture and tradition of our country by ensuring we have a good offer for the tourists,” Naumoska explains.
Naumoska advanced the old craft and nowadays creates unique jewelry applying various techniques and materials. She makes products with Ohrid motifs that are very interesting for foreigners, religious themes and icons in different dimensions and techniques as commissioned by the customers, as well as copies of artifacts, traditional belt buckles, and decorations; most recently, she started working on abstract art.
Inspiration for making jewelry - “Learning about the endemic species in the Ohrid Lake, I came across the magical sponge that was named "Rotunda", not only because of its round shape, but also because it resembles a sea urchin without spines. Fascinated by its appearance, I managed to represent the internal system of canals and chambers. This ancient form of sponge survives in the six-million-year-old lake and is among the oldest forms that live in it, while being completely different from other sponges as an autochthonous animal species.”
Method of work - Copper strips, gently twisted and covered with epoxy resin with different pigments, are used in making objects. Danche says that each creation requires special dedication, unique design and one’s own idea, explaining that the Ohrid sponge collection is intended for powerful and self-confident women who want to be different.For 22 years now, Naumoska has been creating her copper fairy tale in the Ohrid bazaar, attracting tourists from all over the world with her craftwork. Dance Naumoska from Ohrid recommends: “Feel the colors of copper. My goal is to share the magic of copper with unique shades, to share my story, and even create yours through my creations”.