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Russian Handicraft of Wood Turning, Part 1
April 30, 2015 16:56


Wood turning was traditionally used in Russia for making tableware, vessels and spindles. With the advent of spinning wheels in the second half of the 19th century turners switched to making toys.
Linden served as the main raw material for wooden toy turners: it was widely used for connector toys, such as full-spheres, eggs, cups, and nested dolls (Matryoshkas).
Aspen, birch, maple, apple-tree and alder were the best for manufacturing pyramids, skittles, croquet, chess, spillikins, and board games. Beads, doll ware and little toy samovars were turned from juniper.
Wood was harvested till Peter’s Day (July 12) and after removing bark it was sawed into parts and dried.
It took several operations to make a wood turning product, each of them executed by a separate master. One of them squared wood blanks, another one hollowed it, and then a turner shaped it with a lathe machine.
Turners of the 1870s produced wooden plates, wheel hubs, distaffs, spindles, rail-posts and other products along with toys.

Lathes were made by turners themselves. They made them with simple tools, namely an axe and a chisel. The first machines were primitive, with a long pole, by means of which the working part of the machine was set in motion.
The lathe machine set in motion with a swing wheel and a belt was implemented later, in the 1860s – 1870s. The first lathe of the kind was manufactured by Egor Vachkin, a peasant of the village of Shurma (nowadays the Urzhumsk District). 
Turners worked in pairs in a special room. One of them propelled the machine by rotating the swing wheel, and another one turned wooden blanks at the same time. Two masters could make up to 100 – 150 cups with one lathe in one week. Some turners could manufacture wooden pipes in addition to tableware and toys.
A turner making various products usually needed about two cubic meters of wood for a working season. The work was carried out in specially constructed premises, where the stove and lathe machines were set up. Plank beds for wood dehumidification were constructed on the walls from the floor up to the ceiling. The turned products were ground, colored, and polished. Various dyes, such as fuchsin, kroner canary, ultramarine and soot could be added to the polishing liquid. When rotated on the lathe machine the color was evenly applied in a thin layer on a product surface, and the subsequent polish added beautiful gloss to it.
The primitive lathes used in the 19th century have now been turned into compact high-production equipment, which gives the carver an opportunity to get fine workpieces for further decoration. Thus, the traditional Russian wood turning craft for tableware and toys has been preserved and revived in a better quality and richer variety.
 
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Sources: http://nhpko.ru 


Author: Vera Ivanova

Tags: Folk Arts Arts and Crafts Wood Turning Woodwork  

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