Since the inception of Saint Javelin, our community has consistently shown a keen interest in war-part collector's items and "trench art.” This fascination is hardly surprising, given the enduring popularity of trench art since the First and Second World Wars. These artifacts not only hold historical significance but also serve as poignant reminders of the sacrifices made by soldiers and civilians during those tumultuous times. It's not uncommon for trench art pieces from that era to fetch considerable sums, often reaching hundreds or even thousands of dollars at auctions.
However, we find ourselves living in a time when trench art has once again become a craft borne out of necessity. With the russian war against Ukraine marking the largest conflict on European soil since World War II, it stands as one of the defining events of the 21st century, poised to reshape the course of global history. Amidst the harrowing reality of resistance against brutal invasion, Ukrainian individuals have found solace and expression in transforming war remnants into genuine works of art.
In this piece, we delve into the stories of two remarkable Ukrainian artisans, Andriy Levytsky and Mykhailo Lebusov, who crafted our exclusive Saint Javelin Day collection from war parts.
Andriy and Mykhailo, long-time friends, embarked on their entrepreneurial journey in 2014 out of a shared frustration: the struggle to find accessories that were both of high quality and aesthetically pleasing. This dissatisfaction sparked Andriy's curiosity, leading him to delve into the art of brass casting through a masterclass. With his newfound skill, Andriy began crafting intricate designs for belt buckles, drawing inspiration from the rich tapestry of traditional Ukrainian symbols and ornaments.
Andriy and Mykhailo meeting their fellow Klarma craftsman Oleksiy in Kramatorsk
Upon sharing his creations with Mykhailo, his friend's enthusiasm ignited, propelling them towards the founding of Klarma—a venture dedicated to handcrafted accessories and decor.
In 2019, Klarma proudly opened its doors in Lviv, Ukraine, marking the realization of their vision. As the founders honed their craft, they continuously refined their designs, introduced new products, and expanded their team.
"We create what resonates with us, what we ourselves wear and use daily," explains Andriy Levytsky. “We believe in the importance of perfection, extending even to the parts of our products unseen when worn. Take our belts, for instance—the meticulous design of the inner buckle seamlessly complements its exterior, reflecting our commitment to both artistic integrity and quality. Each piece undergoes rigorous refinement, scrutiny, and evaluation until it meets our exacting standards.”
When russia started it’s brutal full-scale invasion of Ukraine, it took Andriy and Mykhailo 3 days to adjust to the new reality of their work. By February 28th, the two of them joined the Territorial Defense Forces of the Armed Forces of Ukraine. When the initial shock from the full-scale war faded away and the Ukrainians started going back to business, Klarma began operating again but with a completely new purpose.
“We shifted our focus to supporting the military. All the funds we had in our partner accounts in the USA, a few thousand dollars, were spent on medical supplies and other items that were difficult to procure in Ukraine. And for over six months, all our profits were directed towards supporting the Armed Forces of Ukraine. Currently, we also allocate a portion of our profits to support our military.” – Andriy shares.
Andriy's inspiration struck in August 2022, during a visit to the frontline artillery position where Ukrainian defenders valiantly confronted russian invaders. Surrounded by a staggering accumulation of used shell casings, Andriy recalls, “They gave me as many shell casings as could fit in our pickup truck.”
Despite its significance, the environmental impact of the Russian war against Ukraine often goes overlooked. According to the Yale School of the Environment, russia inflicted $51 million in environmental damages in just the war's first year. Recycling war materials and repurposing destroyed russian equipment diverts resources from pressing needs. Recognizing this, Andriy and Klarma embarked on a creative mission to repurpose these materials into art pieces and wearable accessories, offering a tangible contribution to those efforts.
Driven by the demand for war relics and trench art, we sought out artisans in Ukraine capable of crafting something extraordinary for our community. Klarma was introduced to Saint Javelin through our dedicated partners at the Ukrainian World Congress. Impressed by their ingenuity and work ethic, we worked with Klarma to develop unique items for our 2nd-anniversary on February 16, 2024.
Over the past months, we worked on the items featuring Saint Javelin and other symbols of Ukraine's resilient spirit. As we stand on the brink of the war's third year, this collection represents more than just art and unique accessories — it symbolizes hope for a brighter, greener future for Ukraine, a beacon of resilience amid ongoing adversity.