The State Craft School in Marijampolė (Summary)

Skirmantė Smilingytė-Žeimienė (PDF)

Until the First World War, only a few craft schools operated based on private or societal initiatives. The State School of Crafts in Marijampolė, which operated between 1926 and 1945/6, was one of the first three government schools established to train cabinetmakers.

The most famous altar masters founded the basics of cabinetmaking and carving in the second half of the 1920s, i.e. from the beginning of school activities. However, the school’s lack of a building was an acute problem. Rooms unsuitable for woodworking were rented in different parts of the town.

The pupils had to study for eight hours a day: they practised for four hours in workshops and taught theoretical lessons for another four hours. The theoretical lessons were divided into two hours of general education subjects (a shortened four-year gymnasium course) and two hours of specialised theory.

Furniture made according to teachers’ projects shaped the fashion trends of the time. The sets of furniture were in great demand by intellectuals in Suvalkija. The school in Marijampolė produced the widest range of wood products and had the largest turnover of all the craft schools that trained cabinetmakers. Prestigious orders received from the state were evidence of the recognition accorded to the school.

During the interwar period, the State School of Crafts turned Marijampolė into a furniture centre. Unfortunately, the full potential of the school was never met. The base of craft technology and applied arts created by the teachers who were master craftsmen failed to be further developed.

Keywords: cabinetmakers, carvers, furniture, the interwar period