The famous schools of Russian traditional art making incredibly fine souvenirs are connected with embroidery and lacework. Exquisite and useful, these items are worth buying indeed.
Birch bark is the outer layer of the trunk of a birch tree. This material has been used in Russia since ancient times to craft jars, baskets, crates and boxes. Nowadays you can even buy a bark magnet for your fridge, a pendant-amulet, jewel boxes, dishes, bread bins, salt-and-pepper shaker sets and much more. There is a wide range of beautifully carved products, which are not particularly overpriced. A birch bark souvenir is a very Russian and budget friendly gift.
Artistic Wickerwork has long been practiced in many cities and villages of Russia. For example, in Udmurtia alone, by the end of the XIX century more than five hundred people were involved in crafting wicker baskets, hats, and even furniture from osier. The handicraft is still alive in Udmurtia. You can visit the National Center of Arts and Crafts in the city of Izhevsk not only to learn firsthand about the production technology, but also to buy souvenirs.
The Tarusa Factory of Artistic Embroidery continues the traditions of the Kaluga ornamental embroidery of colored intertwinement – a mesh-base is tightly entwined with colored threads, thus creating not only geometric designs, but also graceful images of birds, female figures, leopards with a raised paw, and many other patterns and figures.
The Factory is located in the Kaluga Oblast, in the town of Tarusa. The factory has a shop (credit cards are not accepted), where you can buy products, including original bright dresses with embroidered elements.
Mstera is famous not only for painted jewelry boxes, but also for its traditional "white" or "colored" damask stitch. The handicraft emerged a few centuries ago, in a monastery. In those times craftsmen mainly embroidered robes and other ritual objects. Silver and gold thread were used.
Krestsy embroidery began its development in the second half of the 19th century. It is an embroidery technique created on a large mesh fabric by pulling fabric yarns and intertwining white threads. The patterns are geometrical: circles, stars and other shapes.
Today, this embroidery is made in the "Krestetsky Line" factory in the Novgorod region, in the village of Krestsy. You can purchase towels, bed linen, tablecloths, and other items in the factory shop.
Embroidery traditions have been preserved in Ivanovo. Ivanovo embroidery originally was geometric, but later included floral ornament, embroidered on translucent fabric with white or colored thread. Embroidery combines many types of stitches. Nowadays in Ivanovo (the city is the administrative center of the oblast of the same name), you can buy embroidered towels, bed linen, and a lot of other products.
Vologda laces deservingly earned their fame. The history of lace making in the Vologda Oblast dates back to the 16th and 17th centuries, but it crystalized as a handicraft only by the first half of the 19th century.
The Vologda lace is woven on pine or juniper bobbins. To create the lace, you also need a skolok (a special pattern created by stippling) with an ornament and a pad-roll. Bleached or raw linen is used as the material. Earlier, in the 17th century, the craftswomen were engaged in lace making from gold and silver threads, but this segment did not develop.
Kalyazin lacework has been around since the 15th century, but the handicraft achieved its growth and popularity in the 18th century.
The Kalyazin lace is also woven on bobbins, but there is almost no "lattice", the patterns are dense, often with some basic figures on a rich background.
Many Kalyazin patterns have been lost, and now we cannot tell with certainty whether they had been copied or originally created.
Take a look at the materials used to create the finest products! Cotton and down, gold and silver threads, laces were adorned with fur and pearls...
Elets lacework is also deservingly famous. The lace craft emerged in the city of Elets in the 18th century.
Originally, lace makers borrowed their patterns from foreign craftswomen, but original designs were quickly created. They used not only flax, but a cotton "spider web" thread of different colors and thicknesses.
The Elets lace is woven on the bobbins, the technology is similar to that of Vologda, but the subtle multijugate Yelets lace is much thinner and more elegant. Its special feature is the gimp trimming around the basic elements and contours of the pattern.