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Withy weaving

The craft of weaving of willow twigs is one of the most ancient. People began to weave using natural materials when they did not yet have tools and equipment for creating complex household items. In Vladimir land withy was an available material: willow thickets were abundant on the banks of the Klyazma, the Oka, numerous rivers and lakes. Peasants used young willow shoots for weaving baskets, fishing tackle, hedges, cradles, sledges and much more. At the end of the 18th century European fashion for wicker furniture came to Russia, which stimulated the development of the trade. In the 19th century the Vladimir province has become one of the largest centers of weaving in Russia.

Nowadays the traditions of withy weaving are preserved in the works of individual masters of Melenki, Vyazniki, Yuryev-Polsky, Murom and other districts, in studios at the district houses of folk art, at cultural and leisure institutions.

Master of Arts and Crafts E.D. Gruzdkov (the city of Melenki) has been weaving of withy for over twenty years. For his work he uses shrubby willow species growing in the Melenki district. The craftsman has acquired dozens of weaving techniques, has mastered the manufacture of more than 60 items: tables, chairs, lampshades, floor vases and, of course, traditional baskets of different sizes and purposes. The works of Evgeny Gruzdkov are presented in the collections of the Russian House  of Folk Art named after V.D. Polenov, the Regional Center of Folk Art. The master participates in all-Russian and regional exhibitions, has repeatedly become the laureate of the all-Russian competition of folk masters of Arts and crafts "Artisan Rus" (Cheboksary). E.D. Gruzdkov passes the traditions and secrets of withy weaving to students; since 1997 he has been the permanent leader of the exemplary collective "Workshop of a craftsman" in the Melenki center of culture and folk art. 

Master of Arts and Crafts A.L. Kharinov (the village of Perovo, Vyazniki district) devoted almost a quarter- century to weaving of withy. Perfectly mastering traditional techniques, he developed the author’s technology of three-dimensional bending of the willow rod. He considers a more thorough calibration of the rod used in the weaving of withy items as a distinctive feature of his work. Alexander Kharinov creates original wicker interior items (chests, room screens, lampshades, flowerpots, vases, bread bins), as well as kitchen and garden furniture (dining and coffee tables, chairs and pouffes, rocking chairs, sofas). The best works of the master are in the collection of the Regional Center of Folk Art.  A.L. Kharinov holds master classes on weaving for children and adults, actively participates in all-Russian, inter-regional and district exhibitions of decorative and applied art, craft fairs.

Author: V. Korolkova