Sunday 17 February 2013


I smiled when I saw these images of artist and photographer, Aia Judes' witty interpretations of iconic designer pieces made from traditional birch bark weaving. If you've visited Scandinavia, you will know that birch bark weaving ('näver' in Swedish) is used extensively for creating handcrafted baskets, Christmas decorations and diverse household items, so it's interesting to see the technique used in such an irreverent way. 

With its roots in Russia, Scandinavia, Finland and the USA, one of the oldest examples of birch bark weaving is a batch of letters found in Russia, dating from the 1600's, which are still legible today. Through the birch bark projects in her images, Judes explores sustainability, longevity and the value of material goods in today's throw-away society. Collaborating with two birch bark specialists, who have worked with the natural material for decades, Judes juxtaposes this enduring technique with signature silhouettes by Christian Louboutin, Hermes, Chanel and Louis Vuitton; creating designs that are both decadent and homespun. 

With a nod to Christian Louboutin, Aia Judes has included 23 carat gold detail on these 
birch bark beauties
Photo credit

The art of birch bark weaving, just like folk embroidery and other early craft disciplines, has been handed down through generations and resonates perfectly with the current trend for all things handcrafted. Judes is passionate about preserving and celebrating these art forms, which she feels are in danger of disappearing, and recently showed her images at the Sebastian Schildt+ gallery in Stockholm. 

To illustrate the charm of the old versus the new, I've included a few images of vintage birch bark pieces that I've collected over the years. It's interesting how modern the rucksack from the early 1900's looks - it's a great example of sustainable design and I'm glad I unearthed it from the back of a cupboard... 

A birch bark tribute to Louis Vuitton
 Photo credit

 Hermes equestrian heritage is celebrated in this Aia Judes design
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Aia Judes' homage to the classic Chanel 2.55 handbag, 
complete with rustic quilting
Photo credit

Woven birch bark rucksack from central Sweden, early 1900's

Woven birch bark basket from Sweden, early 1900's

Woven birch bark basket with hand painted blueberries,
 from Sweden, dated 1928

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