Russian folk art reflects 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, providing a mainstay and fertile ground for the national culture.
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 from the Vologda Oblast 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 and clay, metal and fabric, straw and twigs are all used in a natural way by skilful hands to make veritable works of art. Today, folk art in Vologda lives in two basic forms - handicrafts practiced on a broad scale and works of art created by gifted persons working at home.
The most popular handicrafts in present-day Vologda Region are: lace making, artistic metalworking (silver blacking), embroidery, wood carving and painting, carving on birch bark, ceramics, clay toys and pottery, pattern weaving and rug making.
The earliest laces, which have reached us, date back to the 17th century. By the middle of the 19th century laces had become widely traded. At the beginning of the 20th century Vologda lace gained its distinctive artistic and stylistic features. The richness and variety of the decorative pattern, the clear-cut easy line of the design, monumentality of forms and predominance of floral motives distinguish traditional Vologda lace.
The present development of lace weaving in Vologda is above all associated with the "Snezhinka" lace making company. The bobbin lace is a speciality of Vologda. In their craft the masters put their high workmanship creating laces of the most fashionable designs and at the same closely related to traditions. Laceworks are in great demand both in Russia and abroad.
Unique and charming are niello adornments produced in Veliky Ustyug, Vologda Oblast. Over several decades the artisans in the town preserved all the methods and unique technics so as to hand them on from generation to generation.
The Severnaya Chern workshop perpetuates a remnant of the town's former exotic trading connections. There, craftsmen produce fine niello silverwork of a kind not seen anywhere else in northern Europe - delicate black alloy inlaid on engraved silver. The northern niello is one of the most unique handicrafts which has gained the world fame.
Vologda's enamel jewelry or in other words finift (old Russian name for the things made in technique of enamel) are well known all over Russia and the world for their high quality and designs, luster and transparency of enamel colors. Vologda's enterprises produce enamel sets, pendants, rings, bracelets, boxes, panels and icons.
Woodworking (carving and painting), working on the birch bark (painting, stamping and carving) and wickerwork made of twigs are also very popular in the region. Utensils made of wood and birch bark are very different in size and form and are decorated with colorful ornament.
A specialized technique of painting wood is still being practiced by skilled craftsmen today. This craft first came to light in the latter part of the 17th century. Each household and ornamental item carved out of wood is hand-painted, and because there is no initial sketching, each item is truly unique. Paintings typically consist of colorful flowers, leaves, berries, birds and animals, as well as patterns, with red and yellow being predominant colors. Popular items include bowls with or without lids, spoons in all shapes and sizes, plates, mugs, serving bowls in the shape of birds, candlesticks, egg cups, platters and others. These items, many of which can be used in the kitchen, are heat resistant, waterproof and unaffected by food acids, making them not only beautiful decorative items, but practical too.
Some companies in the Vologda Oblast are engaged in production of clothes preserving traditions that have their roots in the hoary past. Nerum's activities are mainly concentrated on production of great value knitwear. Lately the company started making laces that impart particular charm and luster to collections of women's wear. Tatted components give Russian national characteristics to the company's production - waistcoats, ponchos, shawls, tunics, pullovers, headscarves, scarves and others. Every month the company renews and refreshes collection of clothes offering casual and affordable clothes for any occasion, as well as unique and trendy fashions identifiable by beautiful details.