The Baranov Museum spring lecture series debuts tonight with a talk on the history of Russian woodenware in Kodiak.
Local carver Jim Dillard says, back in Russia, crafters would create items from wood and then sell and export them.
“And then they had those skills as they came here and we don’t know for sure what they did. I’m sure they did a little trading as the ships visited and that sort of thing, but it was not a major industry here because folks were just too busy. There was so much work to be done here that the Russian American Company managers had a lot on the list that never got done as far as building and that kind of thing.”
Those skills proved invaluable to life in Russian settlements in Kodiak. Dillard says there were plenty of blacksmiths, tin smiths, and brick makers, but there were few people who would market household items on the island.
“Folks were pretty much on their own and supplies, imported supplies, were very rare, and so this is what folks did to take care of themselves and, not only that, but those very same skills, of course, were quite handy with the axe work used to build all the buildings here and in Sitka. And even furniture.”
Dillard says he’ll be showing the tools crafters would have used during that period.
The History Speaks lecture will begin at the Baranov Museum at 7 p.m. and continue till 8:15 p.m. Toby Sullivan from the Kodiak Maritime Museum will give the next talk, the Saga of Captain Michael Healy, on March 15.