Matruska Dolls – A green woodworking project?

Starting in  the the linden forests of Russia, this video follows the making of nesting dolls from tree to paint.  From what I could find on the internet this is still a localized craft industry in Russia,  like so many trades were in England and elsewhere a few hundred years ago.  Then you bought Sheffield tools and Wycombe chairs; now we buy Stanley tools and Ikea furniture without caring if they are made in Mexico or China.

It starts with felling saplings with a two-man whip saw.  They’re nearly as fast as any competitive sawyers I’ve seen, but after a tree or two you can fast-forward to the 8:00-minute mark, back in town at the turner’s shop. 

The wood is dried for a year or two, but it seems pretty soft for all that – it looks like it turns about like green sugar maple.  The turner is really good.  The heavily skewed chisel  is round in cross-section – which would act like the ‘new’ oval skews, helping to minimize toe catches to some extent.  They can turn 1000 pieces/week and they sell them for pennies.

Very high skill, very low pay.  Seems like a modern equivalent of the turners who fed the 18th and 19th century chairmaking shops. Yikes!

Posted in Craft Films
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