My Adventure with “The Baltic Gold” TV Series. Amberwood Marta Włodarska on History Channel.
A five-episode-long series “The Baltic Gold” was first shown in spring 2019. It proved so popular with the viewers that a decision’s been made to continue the story, of a few people fixated on amber, into a second season. I feel terribly lucky to have been invited to be part of the film – isn’t it a beautiful present for the 10th anniversary of the Amberwood Marta Włodarska company, celebrated this year?
The first scenes were shot during the Ambermart International Amber Fair in Gdańsk last year – and included some flashes from the fair, selling jewellery on my stall and me buying amber pieces from friendly suppliers. The second meeting with the filming crew, this one more energetic and joyful, took place in Berlin in my workshop and showroom. We recorded the process of jewellery creation – step by step, from carefully selecting the amber lump to the finished form. I also showed my „greatest treasures” – unique finds, stored in a special chest: a wooden shoe sole and beer can completely covered with barnacles (small shells that often stick to various objects in water, including amber and wood). This stage was fascinating, especially as by then I’d got used to being in front of the camera and “acting” was more of a pleasure than stress. Unfortunately, only a few seconds of the “Berlin” sections made it to the film. :(
You can see more on my Instagram stories (click here) – you can judge for yourself how good an actress I made. :)
Later on, it only got more and more interesting. First, I went to the beach, where together with Tomek Ołdziejewski and his friends we were looking for driftwood thrown onto the shore by the sea. Tomek, who I’ve been friends with for years, lives in Sztutowo and creates amazing sculptures and reliefs of amber and sells them all over the world. He’s got a real talent – not only as an artist, but also as an actor, which was already very visible in the first season of the series.
Let’s get back to the driftwood, which I often use in my works as it’s a material that’s beautifully polished and preserved by sand and water. This kind of wood also has its “soul” and sometimes a few decades of stories to tell – many pieces must have been parts of old oak fishing boat, the fragments of which can only be found in museums today. The idea of upcycling – re-using materials - is also very close to me and working with old wood gives me all the more joy. In the film you can see Tomek cutting an old branch weighing about 20 kg with a motor saw. Now the piece is beautifully dried, and it will soon be used to make new amber and wood compositions.
However, by far the most incredible experience on set was participating in overnight amber fishing on the Vistula Spit. Equipped with special UV torches and fishing nets, wearing waders (long wellies, covering all legs) we went to the place where Vistula river flows into the Baltic Sea. There were more enthusiasts like us on the beach, the ones who felt the amber fever that comes together with the north-eastern wind. We were standing up to the waist in water, shining the strong, UV light of the torches onto it and looking for amber lumps. It was worth it! I found a handful of small amber pieces, and Tomek found a large nugget. Then, we fished out a few more pieces, this time smaller. After a few hours of fishing our enthusiasm dropped somewhat, tiredness started to kick in – moving kilograms of wet sticks in the fishing net is hard physical work! We also felt a bit cold, and apparently so did others as someone started a huge campfire on the beach. A group of experienced amber fishers gathered around the fire – everyone was telling a story about when and how it is best to fish amber… It was an incredible, almost mystical experience which made me even more confident that amber is a magic stone. For me, it is a combination of the four elements: it was once a liquid resin of the conifer trees, and today, in the fossil form it is mined from underwater (water), there is over 10% oxygen in its composition (air), we dig it out from the earth (earth), and when we look at it against the light it shines like fire (fire), it’s also really warm and soft in touch… For me, it is the symbol of the Universe…
At the end, as if the events of the night had not been exciting enough, our filming crew’s motorbikes and jeeps got stuck in the sand on the way back. Luckily, they managed to get out quite quickly. Happy and excited, we eventually went to bed after 2 am. You can find the night scenes – including the ones that you probably won’t see in the film – on Instagram.
The following two days we were recording in Tomek’s workshop – under his supervision I was learning to polish and glue a large amber and wood mosaic, which I want to use in a lamp. There were a couple of controversies, as we both have strong characters, different visions, and very different sense of aesthetics. As it wasn’t possible to keep reshooting the scenes over and over again, our rows over cutting and gluing panes have been saved in the film. :)
What matters though, is that eventually we managed to reach a consensus. :)
Taking part in the film was a fantastic adventure for me, as well as an interesting experience and a great distinction. Even we, the actors starring in the film, don’t know which exact scenes have been included in the film – so the new season will be a big surprise for me too. As far as I know, there’s only a small part of the whole material with me in the leading part in the film. Despite that, I can’t wait to see the new episodes of the “The Baltic Gold”. I would like to invite all of you to follow the story of people, who like me, are crazy about amber. You can watch it on Tuesdays at 21.00 on HISTORY POLSKA channel. It will also be broadcast in other countries – but for now it’s not sure where and when.