Ukrainian Folk Arts and Crafts

Preserving a Cultural Heritage

Aside from dance, song, music, and food, traditional Ukrainian folk arts and crafts have become a familiar part of the Canadian cultural mosaic. Many of these cultural symbols have been part of “women’s work”, preserved through the decades by the wives, mothers and daughters who have been part of the generations that have passed through the AUUC Hall.

 

Cross stitch embroidery, Pysanky (Ukrainian Easter Eggs), beadwork on clothing and jewelry, decorations for traditional wedding breads, and Vinok (wreath) weaving - all of these folk arts have been practiced, displayed, and taught to future generations at our Hall.  As children and young adults in the 1960's and 70’s, many of us were taught cross stitch embroidery and Pysanky decorating by Mrs. Fedosenko, Mrs. Martin and Mrs. Nikitiuk on Saturdays between dance and music classes.  In recent years some of these skills have been introduced in once a month craft classes, also on Saturdays, providing a continuity from generation to generation.

Click photo above left to view the gallery

Over the 92 years the Hall has been in existence, the AUUC has reached out to the wider community through both the theatrical arts and the visual arts. Many displays of embroidery, costuming and Pysanky making have been presented, both in the Hall and at outside venues and events. As well, opportunities for the general public to learn how to practice these arts have been provided at community and Hall workshops. These displays and workshops have helped build bridges between local communities and highlight similarities across the many cultures in our multicultural society. 

 

Some recent community outreach has included:

  • a beading workshop during the East Side Culture Crawl taught by member Tetiana Zaruba

  • a display of Ukrainian handicrafts celebrating Women’s Work at the Carnegie Community Centre

  • a motanka doll making and wreath weaving workshop with the Rozhanytsia Ukrainian Folk Band

  • Pysanky workshops during the East Side Culture Crawl

  • displays and sales of Ukrainian crafts during AUUC Perogy Lunch weekends

 

Beyond food, preserving a cultural heritage needs to be done in many ways.  The AUUC is continuing to promote cross cultural understanding and appreciation through preserving, sharing and teaching both the performing and creative arts that are part of our cultural identity.

Images from 2015 arts and culture events featuring hands-on workshops and displays of folk art, traditional and dance costumes, and wreaths.   Above: Tetiana Zaruba leads participants in a gerdan (beading) workshop. 
To read more, click links to open the Vancouver Courier article and the beading instructions.

Craft Club Quilt Project 

The Senior’s Craft Club is continuing to preserve the crafting tradition that has been part of the Vancouver AUUC since its inception.  Meeting every 2nd Tuesday, the members have explored both traditional Ukrainian crafts and a wide variety of new projects including Christmas ornaments, knit and crochet items, greeting cards, candles, and many other hand made items.  They always have unique, hand crafted items for sale during the Hall’s Perogy Lunches, helping to fund their craft making.

In celebration and remembrance of the Hall’s 90th and the National Organization's 100th anniversaries, the members of the craft club decided to undertake a major project, commemorating these two special events.  In 2017 the craft club began formulating a plan to construct a heritage quilt to mark these anniversaries, incorporating hand made squares decorated with embroidery, painting, and appliqué.  The craft club reached out to other members who were interested in contributing their handiwork to this special project. In the end, 11 crafters contributed their skills and contributed quilt pieces celebrating the Hall and its history.

 

The focal point of the quilt is a replica of the hall’s exterior, appliquéd from a photo.  The smaller panels were designed to show various Ukrainian cultural symbols - bread and salt, poppies, wheat, decorated eggs, and a bowl of perogies steaming on the table.  As well, some panels represent activities and cultural groups which have been part of Vancouver’s legacy, plus a variety of traditional embroidery patterns and original designs.

 

The quilt was formally presented to the public and the organization at the end of year concert in June 2019.  Photos of the quilt and each panel have been included in a commemorative booklet which includes a dedication, and the story of the quilt’s construction.  It is being stored in archival conditions, to be brought out and displayed on special occasions in order to preserve this memorial for future generations.

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