Russian Coal Makes Good Tea

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In 18th Century Russia, coal samovars were especially honored at home. But they started disappearing at the end of the 20th Century, when people started putting them away or gave them away as scrap metal.

Artisan Vladimir Bashkin from Nizhny Novgorod refurbishes these wood-burning samovars and even makes new ones. It’s a long process, starting with work on the draft. He then makes a model, which is a key step in making genuine samovars.

[Vladimir Bashkin, Craftsman]: (Male, Russian)
"This is the radial model, which is the base for the form. This form is carved, but not completely pressed; it must be burned yet. Then I make a second side (used for the back). And when all four parts are ready, I make a samovar with a 33-gallon (150-liter) capacity".

Vladimir creates samovars of unusual shapes: an inverted pear, a wine glass, turnip and vase. Each has up to 200 parts, and many are done by hand. A sheet of iron goes through shaping, welding and tinning. And after that it must be rapped and smoothed, and plated with silver or gold, depending on the choice of the customer. But when the samovar is done, it’s not quite ready yet; the wonder-kettle must be cleaned to get rid of any dirt and acids.

[Vladimir Bashkin, Craftsman]: (Male, Russian)
"Then I boil them with soda ash. All the dirt goes away, and then I simply wash it with clean water, pour water and boil it for a cup of tea."

Many of Vladimir's samovars are now collectors' items.

[Nikolai Poliakov, Collector]: (Male, Russian)
"Bashkin is a unique person, and he does the kind of things that no company can do nowadays. And it is most wonderful that it's hand-made."

Nikolai Polyakov’s collection is the largest in the world, consisting of around 800 samovars. He brought them from different countries.


NTD News, Nizhny Novgorod, Russia.

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