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Vologda's Craftsmen

Russian folk art reflects the richness and diversity of the nation's soul. Folk art is a complex and multifaceted branch of the Russian modern culture. It lives together with the nation, and has its roots going back deep into history.

The high artistic merits of works of folk crafts, their strikingly balanced forms and carefully chosen subjects are attracting artists to the folk art. Many generations of handicraftsmen have contributed to the Russian folk art. It is integral in artistic structure and highly diverse in ethnic specifics, from the choice of material to interpretation of artistic tools.

Wood, clay, stone, leather, fur, straw and twigs are all used in a natural way by skilful hands to make articles for the home into veritable works of art. Today, folk art in Russia lives in two basic forms - handicrafts practised on a broad scale and works of art created by gifted persons working at home.

The Vologda Oblast stands out for its folk traditions and local craftsmen, who practise techniques pioneered by their fathers and grandfathers before them. Historically, the region is known for wood engraving, wood carving, artistic metalworking, lace making, embroidery, pattern weaving, rug making and enamel work.

But it is region's silversmiths who really made a name for themselves, earning commissions from Russia's imperial capital St. Petersburg. Their chosen technique, niello work on silver, lives on to this day, with the Severnaya Chern company (Veliky Ustyug) still a major local employer, selling finished silver goods at home and abroad.

Vologda's Craftsmen is an umbrella brand supporting craft professionals located across the Vologda Oblast with the help of local executive bodies and organizations of relevance to the development of the craft sector in the region. The issue of protecting traditional knowledge for the benefit of the owners and practitioners has been gaining ground for a while now. There was unanimous agreement that a region wide strategy supporting all producers working in the sector is needed if small craft producers who create hand made unique products are to expand their businesses and create jobs.

An umbrella brand for craft in the Vologda Oblast is in development as well as a range of new initiatives that will allow access to visitors to the region to access local craft. Providing opportunities for producers to retail their craft at local and international level is also being looked at.

The objective of the umbrella brand "Vologda's Craftsmen" is to promote the craft profession as exciting and commercially viable, and to create public awareness of the wealth of craft that the Vologda Oblast has to offer both at home and abroad.