Weaving Birch Bark with Vladimir Yarish

     This past week I had the rare chance to weave a few baskets under the tutelage of the world renowned Russian birch bark weaver Vladimir Yarish.  Vladimir has a book out on the subject and it's titled Plaited Basketry with Birch Bark. The book will give you some insight into the process and history of this style of weaving. North House had set up this class for instructors while Vlad was in the area teaching at the school and in Grand Rapids, MN. From what I understand he will be in New England for a bit and then back to Russia. He has a website here where you can find more info to where he is teaching in New England, just click on classes on his website.
     Vlad was an awesome teacher who didn't take sloppy work or "good enough" as acceptable. He made you take it apart and start again. I really appreciated this as a student but also as an instructor.  It seems at times that some students have a hard time dealing with their mistakes or constructive criticism. As many of the "professionals" or experienced makers and teacher know, is that mistakes are a very important part of learning. Many of us don't even see the experience or use the word mistakes at all. It is simply part of the larger process. But in classes, folks aren't all their for the same reasons. Some folks simply want to try it out. I understand this. But Vlad simply demanded it be done right, and being done right and perfect are very different things. It is a proud feeling when you go back and make it a little better than the first time. The beauty of this type of basketry, but would argue anything being made, is that going backward is really not that hard to do. It just takes a little time. As an old friend and mentor would say "sometimes you have to go backward to go forward". I'll be weaving more bark in the future and sometimes, I will be going backwards.....

 Here are some photos, Vladimir's work speaks for itself.
material ready to weave

Vladimir prepping some birch bark

my basket underway

Vladimir's boots

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