"How did they do THAT??"
Amazingly, there are still artisans in Russia who know how to make these shoes, and I was able to learn from a book published by master craftsman Vladimir Yaresh: Plaited Basketry with Birch Bark.
Last spring I spiral-stripped the bark off of an ornamental cherry tree that had been felled in a park near my home. The bark was incredibly tough and supple -- more like leather than tree bark -- and I knew exactly what I would use it for.
Thanks to the LFAS alumni exhibition -- a full-blown art show at the Roundhouse with over 90 artists -- the bark I had stripped a year ago finally got off my shelf and made into shoes. Though they're going to be displayed on a wall or a plinth at the art show, I'll be wearing them around after that.
Thanks to my friend Sharon Kallis for the photos of me and my shoes in-progress.