Welcome to Modish Matrons - a link-up that once a month offers you a theme to play with and an opportunity to get together to share our diversity and love of fashion and style! Add your link in a special place at the very end of my post, and please visit my beautiful co-hostesses Tina and Beate to see their interpretation of the theme!
When it comes to folk art, often bold colors, simple shapes and naive interpretation of such things as perspective and proportions come to mind first (read the Wiki article about it HERE). Folk art is usually perceived as decorating practical, utilitarian things that people use in daily life. But while it certainly has an applied nature, folk art still can express the individuality and outlook on life of the artist - and it definitely does not have to be bold, naive or primitive. It very well can be subtle and intricate. One of the less known forms of Russian folk art is the ancient art of birch bark carving.
As a gratifying material to work with, birch bark is well known not only to Russians - you might be familiar with examples of Scandinavian and Native American birch bark art and domestic items. The bark of a birch tree is both sturdy and soft, pliable, in many ways reminding leather, so that many of the same techniques are used with both, such as carving, embossing, weaving, etc. Birch bark is also highly water-repellent which allowed our ancestors using it thousands of years ago to make clothes, shoes, boats, huts, kitchen utensils, baskets, containers of all sorts, writing surfaces (famous ancient Novgorod manuscripts - берестяные грамоты, berestyanye gramoty), decorative panels, and jewelry boxes, as well as jewelry.
Russian artisans developed their own techniques and aesthetics when it comes to birch bark. Their work, inspired by the rich Russian traditional culture, tends to be highly detailed and often displays a combination of complicated techniques. To this day, master carvers work with hand tools that they design themselves. In my post, I introduce you to one such rare and unique Russian artist - my brother Andrei Lialin (visit his website for more information). Andrei is a self-taught artist who spent a few years practicing this ancient art. His pieces have been showcased in art exhibits and festivals, and many of them are in private collections throughout the United States.
Samovar, teapot, three cups and a tray by Andrei Lialin.
Birch bark and birch wood. Artist's gift for my birthday
Jewelry box by Andrei Lialin.
Birch bark and birch wood. Private collection
My outfit today is a fantasy around birch trees (their beautiful bark with layers, hues and the almost lacy feel of it), as well as an interpretation of Andrei's intricate artwork. The peasant skirt is a ModCloth purchase from last year. It's my very first purchase from this company that offers a wide variety of charming and quirky vintage-inspired designs. The quality seems to be pretty good so far - the skirt is fully lined, made of soft natural fabrics. I love the subtle print mix and the abundance of crochet lace they used. The waist part is stretchy and very comfortable.
I combined the skirt with red tights which really pick up the red tones from the skirt pattern.
The legwarmers I have had for ages! I think my friend gifted them to me 20 years ago or so.
Birch bark and birch wood box by Andrei Lialin.
Commissioned for a very special man in my life - Justin Donie.
Inside of the birch bark box by Andrei Lialin.
(Andrei used various techniques to create this masterpiece - from applique to inlay.)
Russian church - a double box by Andrei Lialin.
Birch bark and birch wood. Private collection
My necklaces are malachite, the long one is Justin's gift, years ago, and the pendant was a festival find a couple of years back. The only new things here are the lace choker and long cardigan. You know my weakness for long cardigans and knitted coats, and with this intricate item I felt helplessly in love the minute I saw it. I just had to have it. I ended up buying two and I intend to keep them both (which happens extremely rarely to me). My size was sold out so quickly online that I decided to grab a smaller size before it was completely gone (which still fits me well!). When it showed up in my size again, I of course grabbed it too. And I was right - the cardigan is no longer available in larger sizes on the Chico's website, but you might get lucky and still find it in stores. Ask for Elizabeth's Ruffle cardigan. Words can't describe how delicately pretty it is. I hope it shows in our photos, though I have to tell you, it's even better in person.
Birch bark ring by Andrei Lialin. From my personal collection,
in which there are also earrings, necklaces and bracelets made of birch bark.
Please visit Beate's and Tina's posts - there is always something inspiring there!
Feel free to add your links below. The link-up will be open for the whole month of February!
Skirt - ModCloth
Cardigan - Chico's
Lace choker - Lane Bryant
Birch bark ring by Andrei Lialin
Malachite jewelry from my collection
Boots - Born
Photos by Justin Donie
Photos of birch bark boxes by Andrei Lialin
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