Thursday, January 24, 2013

From Russia...

... With Colour.

Ran across some marvellous colour photographs of severe-looking Cossacks and chaps of Oriental appearance flogging piles of carpets the other day. No big deal, except apparently they were taken between 1909 and 1918 by a chap called Sergei Prokudin-Gorskii; of whom I've never previously heard, but boy, he'd got his colour photography technique down well. Those colours really pop. All the background and some non-woody examples here.

Naturally, when I see a collection of early photos is available to peruse online, my thoughts turn woodworking-wards. Alas, no luck finding a picture of Uri in the Urals posing in front of his carpenter's bench, but still some of interest, I think.

Carpenter; Samarkand.

And again, I believe, although the archivists haven't made the connection (over-worked, under-appreciated beings, as they are). Don't know about you, but henceforth I shall feel wildly underdressed in the w'shop in comparison. Some accurate work on the finished pole; also done with the adze?

Railroad construction on the Shadrinsk-Sinara railroad in Siberia, aka Log Cabins A-Go-Go. This is a photo I'd like to be able to step into in order to get a closer look at what they're doing. And also ask someone why they elected to leave that particular - perilously leaning - tree, and then build a cabin right slap bang next to it...

Log Sawing; Kuzminskoe. Pit sawing! Except, on trestles. So, Trestle Sawing! Which sounds more like an accidental meeting of saw with workshop appliance, so maybe not... Three of them on the go at once, and I can't help noticing that while all the "top dogs" are concentrating on the cut, all three bottom sawyers are having a good goof towards the camera. Welcome relief from the dusty tedium, I imagine.

Elsewhere in the Oka River region, a saw mill.

Joining shop for the production of scabbards at the Zlatoust plant. Pardon me while I succumb to large, unguarded bandsaw lust; as is always inevitably the case. Seems to me that bit of heavy iron in the foreground has a German manufacturer's name on it, no? Also getting brief glimpses of vice-like things, possibly on benches, but not enough to be sure. Ack, another one I'd like to be able to step into - or at least swing the camera to the left a bit.

Now we're indoors, let me pause to recommend your own perusal of the Interiors tag in the archive of this collection; there are some gorgeous pictures, just not woodworking ones. Meanwhile onto the weighing section at the Chakva tea factory in the Caucasus.

Why? Because wouldn't claiming to be building a "Tea Bench from the Caucasus" sound terribly impressive? While looking entirely doable too. The Schwarz needs to get onto that and it'll be the Next Big Thing in no time.

Found the tea house of the simple bench via searching for furniture, which also produced this from the White Palace museum in Rostov.

The Borodino Museum has a similar "pile it in" approach to museum display. Such as is likely to make one blench, in this case; pretty sure the maker of that desk hadn't envisioned someone stacking half an armoury (including small cannon) onto it. Given his expression, the character in the portrait may well be the maker... Oddly unadorned drawer fronts, I thought; jars slightly to my non-Russian eye.

And finally, no appreciable woodwork in this one, but truly, it's not often you see that many sabres and assorted other implements for dispatching the enemy displayed in one place and quite like that. It's at the home of the big iron seen earlier - the Arsenal Museum of the Zlatoust plant - so you might want to take particular note of the scabbards.

So there were considerable hours wasted - or, well spent, as I'd like to think - going through that lot. Too about the lack of Vladimirs in Vladivostok or similar posing with their tool kits, but heigh ho. Do svidanja.


  1. See also "Photographs for the Tsar". Just stunning. I was fortunate to find a copy in good condition about 10 years ago for about $35 (£22.12, Jeff and Alf). Well worth it. (

  2. Nice find! Love those old unguarded bandsaws. Head cut in half, anyone?


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