Birthdays, holidays, other special occasions, and “just because” moments are usually served as momentum to give a present to someone you deem special. There is just something very endearing as well as meaningful about a present that you took the time to consider and buy. It becomes all the more special when the present is handmade.
The handicrafts reflect a sense of ethnicity and elegance. Giving a present in the form of handicrafts is a sign of valuing culture and tradition. Handcrafted present items are quite popular these days for they can make a good style statement. Any present is fun to give. However, would not it be a whole lot more fun to give a handcrafted present? Something you hope the other party will love in the long-run?
Giving handcrafted present for your special ones is fabulous, yet can be so time-consuming, especially when you have no idea what kind of handicraft you will choose. But it does not have to be difficult because Russian handicrafts have a vast option for you.
Handicrafts are among the most popular presents or souvenirs that tourists buy when spending a holiday in Russia. Russian handicrafts include Matryoshka Dolls, Zhostovo Paintings, Vologda Lace, Gzhel, and many other folk arts with long, distinctive histories. They make perfect presents for special ones such as friends and family.
Russia has always been rich in distinguished folk arts and handicrafts that are stemmed from old traditions of country handicrafts and family handiwork. At later time, there were cottage crafts that worked for the market, along with private workshops that also worked in the capital market and seldom failing the competition with factory-made crafts.
Around the late 19th – early 20th century, there came the resurrection of Russian folk useful arts, with the policy of comparing them with mass industrial manufacture of household items. Some crafts and arts in Russia keep on developing with full support of the state today. In this article, I will present 4 kinds of Russian handicrafts for your special ones.
- Matryoshka Doll
Matryoshka is known as the most popular Russian handicraft as well as souvenir. What is Matryoshka? Matryoshka is a set of painted wooden dolls of sizes in decrease. Each of the decreasing items is hidden inside another.
The number of nested figurines can vary from three to up to ten, but in some rare cases, it can reach 50 and even more. The traditional Matryoshka doll usually depicts a woman dressed in a Russian peasant outfits while wearing a scarf on her head.
The whole set of Matryoshka doll is crafted from the same piece of wood. It has to be done that way to make sure that the wood would react in the same exact way to temperature conditions and changing humidity. The most common wood used in the production of Matryoshka doll is lime and birch. Each doll is then painted by hand and covered with seven layers of lacquer.
Nowadays, modern artists craft a lot of new styles of Matryoshka dolls. One of the most popular sets is a set of Russian and Soviet leaders such as Putin, Yeltsin, Medvedev, Gorbachev, Khrushchev, Brezhnev, Stalin, and Lenin. Other new themes include floral, animal collections, religious, and portraits and caricatures of popular politicians, athletes, and musicians.
Khokhloma is one of many traditional Russian handicrafts originated in the 17th century. It was first crafted in the area of Nizhniy Novgorod. It is the style of painting on wooden tableware and furniture. Khokhloma style is known for its red and gold colors of flower pattern painted on a dark background.
The most common theme of Khokhloma paintings are strawberries, flowers, branches of mountain ash, sometimes fish, birds, and other animals. The magnificent pieces of tableware might give out an impression of being painted with real gold, but Khokhloma experts had an interesting technique of ‘gilding’.
Gilding is when the household items are rubbed with tin powder, covered with linseed oil, and heated in an oven. The linseed oil turns yellow as the result of the heat and the tin starts to shine like real gold.
Gzhel is a Russian handicraft in the form of Russian ceramics which originally comes from the village of Gzhel. Long before Ghzel was famous, the village has long been known for its clays. Since the 14th century, the Gzhel and other villages in the neighborhood have become the center of Russian ceramic manufacture.
Local experts painted the clay household items such as plates, mugs, dinner sets, jugs, toys, et cetera. The style of Ghzel paintings was initially adopted from the Dutch. White and blue colors are the distinctive feature of the painting. It appears in an unusual way, for example, at the beginning, the item is painted with cobalt oxide which is black then it coated with white glaze, and heated in the oven. After that, the glaze turns transparent and cobalt turns into sky blue color.
Gzhel ceramics is made by hand. The artist paints every object with a brush, making it an individual piece of art. Nowadays, many Russian people as well as foreigners collect Gzhel to decorate their houses. While you are in Russia, make sure you stop to see and perhaps buy Ghzel ceramics for your loved ones.
- Birch Bark Crafts
Birch bark crafts have always been famous in Russia. Birch bark craft is a strong and water-resistant bark that can be easily bent, cut, and sewn. It is often used as food and drink containers.
In the distant past, peasants would often bring a bottle made of birch bark full of water or kvass to the field. They also had a birch bark shoes and backpack. There were also numerous baskets and boxes used to keep honey, berries, sour cream or butter.
So, those are 4 kinds of Russian handicrafts for your special ones. Make sure you grab one or two.