ologda region is known as a breeding ground of arts and
crafts in the Russian North. In XIX-XX centuries there were
highly developed such handicrafts as carving and painting
of wood and birch bark, fancy weaving and needlework, niello
and ceramics. But what became really world famous was Vologda
Since the end of XVIII century lace
making developed both in Vologda-town and region. Vologda
laces were always notable for their characteristic ornaments.
Their lines are smooth and flowing. Even geometrical patterns
become rounded. Their design is generalized, it often has
just a hint of a real prototype. The main feature of those
laces is delicacy. Local lace makers created lots of transparent
nets that served as ground and types of laces that looked
like a frosty window or blossoming garden, or a meadow full
of flowers. But they are not spider web like. Made of firm
flax or cotton threads, Vologoda lace are strong and weighty.
Begining of XX century
Lace making was
considered to be respectable and profitable. Even members
of wealthy families were involved in trades. Nobles and
prosperous mechants trained their daughters in lace making
as in a sort of fine arts. Women from impoverished gentry
families and widows worked long hours around the year. But
the majority of lace makers was represented by inhabitants
of garrets and basements.
Flax has always been favored in
this tradition. Either brown (unbleached) of snow-white
it has silk resiliency and luster - so it is often called
"northern silk". Flax laces are beautiful and
durable. Nowadays Vologda laces are also made of cotton
or, rarely silk, sometimes with metal threads as metanit
or lurex. Since olden times in Vologda province they used
to make both multipair laces and guipure. In each region
not only patterns were peculiar but even methods and tools.
Begining of XX century
At the end of XlX
century a huge number of scarfs and kerchiefs, pelerines
and head-dresses of black and golden silk were produced
in Vologda province. Even members of wealthy families were
involved in trades. Nobles and prosperous mechants trained
their daughters in lace making as in a sort of fine arts.
Women from impoverished gentry families and widows worked
long hours around the year. But the majority of lace makers
was represented by inhabitants of garrets and basements.
In peasant families girls earned money by lace making to
buy fashionable dresses. At the end of XIX century writers
note "excessive foppishness" of peasant women's
garments, their yearning for townsfolk's clothes - silk
and wool stylish dresses, coats with fur collars.
At the same time in many districts
of Vologda province women wore ancient folk costumes: shirts
with decorated hems, skirts with laces and woven ornaments.
Snow-white multipair laces were supplemented with bright
colored threads that called over the bright colors of ornamented
cloth. Women often put on shirts with decorated hems in
haymaking time and for other kinds of collective labor.
An expert in vologodsky laces S. A. Davydova describes one
of the local customs. Soon after her marriage, the bride
put on her best dress and countless shirts with decorated
hems and went to show herself. Older women examined delicacy
of her dress to see how skillful she was in needlework and
lace making. But it's hard to put on too many shirts. So
brides often prepared just lavishly adorned hems and put
them on like underskirts. One young woman came to having
on 17 skirts.
Women shirt's decorated hem(detail)
End of XIX century
In the Vologda museum
can see wonderful albums containing samples of laces. Refined
patterns marked by the obvious influence of modernist style
- variations of flower bows, butterflies and dragon-flies
as well as especially delicate exact laces, braids of handkerchiefs
and serviettes were probably accepted by Vologda lace makers,
with the help of practical school graduates. Along with
the designer's patterns a thick stratum of real folk art
existed. Thousands of lace makers used those traditional
ornaments, transforming them for changing times and fashions.
Lace making is one of the most laborious and time-consuming
handicrafts. Though the process of weaving looks like 'a
sort of fun it requires extreme patience, accuracy and good
taste. And those who do not copy samples, but create them,
often spend months searching after fresh idea. They produce
mountings of drafts and sketches of the whole thing and
all its parts. Each detail, every figure, curl and flower
then are woven to try different ways, colors, materials.
When the whole picture is ready on a big list of paper,
the designer has to work on technology to find the right
place for each pin. When this is over, lace makers start
weaving itself. Big articles are made by teams and need
weeks and months of hard work. Lace making tradition in
Vologda survived through hard times. Now it's still alive
Panel. "Singing tree". 1978