Article & Photography by Paul J. Hechtman
This past month I had the pleasure of meeting Leonid Gusyatnikov. All I knew about Leonid before I met him was that
he was some sort of collector. So, I did not know what the afternoon had in store for me when I went to his home to
Workshop Table & Benches Outhouse
Leonid Gusyatnikov lives in a small village, which is located about 30 minute drive outside of Belgorod.
Leonid worked most of his life as a geologist, up until the early 1990’s when he became unemployed in that field. He
then started making his living as a master craftsman and metalsmith.
Front Gate & Lock
Leonid built his home, which he calls a “Hut”. His home is built in the same Russian traditional style that homes were being built a century ago. Leonid was born in this style home. This style of building is rare to see in Russia today,
because new and remodel homes are designed in a modern euro style. Leonid’s home has wooden windows and floors. The walls are painted white. The brick fireplace is an oven/stove, which is used for cooking and warming the house in winter. There is no bathroom in the house only an outhouse, which is located in the backyard.
All of the hinges and locks on the doors and gates Leonid made himself. He used sliding dovetails on the doors he
made to keep the vertical boards from spreading apart.
Leonid in his workshop
Leonid’s Russian oven/stove in his workshop
The above photo is a Russian oven/stove, which is in Leonid’s workshop. This is a unique type of fireplace, which first appeared in the 15th century. The oven is used for cooking and heating the home. Pine is the main source of wood
that is burned in this region. This oven is designed to retain heat for long periods of time. Several pipes are used to channel hot air and smoke, which warms the brick. The flue is usually designed to warm the attic. The second photo is also part of the oven, which is in the next room of the workshop. The top space of the oven can be used for people to sleep on during the winter to stay warm.
Garden, backyard & Lake photos
Changing room by lake
When Leonid was working as a geologist he traveled all around Russia. He worked in villages that were far away from cities and towns and was experiencing the real Russian culture, which is different from living in most cities in Russia. While traveling to these villages Leonid was learning about the history of the people and their culture. He started
buying household items, which were used in past generation and are not being made today.
Leonid has an interesting collection of samovars, bells, wooden spoons, artwork, baskets, women and men’s costumes, World War II items, ceramic flutes, which are all incredible to see.
The quilt on the bed with its beautiful patchwork tells its own story with each piece of fabric that was used to create it.
It is the history of a lifetime from the woman who made the quilt. There are pieces made from an old soldier’s uniform from the husband that came back from war, pieces from baby clothing and from the dresses that she no longer wears.
Front room wall, which is part of the kitchen oven/stove in the house & Collection of ceramic flutes
In the front room of Leonid's home he dedicates a corner to religious icons. This is a Russian tradition for people who
are religious. On important holidays or during a prayer a candle is lit.
Leonid has a collection of chests
of various sizes and decoration. These chests are made out of wood and
hand painted. Large chests were used to store clothing, canvases, house
utensils. Smaller chest were use to store valuable
Leonid's Samovar Collietion
A samovar is a metal container, which was traditionally used to heat and boil water. The samovar was usually used for
making tea. Leonid enjoys reading and has a nice library of books. He knows a lot about Russian family tradition,
which have been past down for centuries.
Paul & Natasha Hechtman (Photo by Roman Nikulin), Julia & Roman NIkulin
Leonid stated the following about family relationship: “ Let wife be sure that her husband wants her to keep company
with the guests she invites, or the people she calls upon. Let her put on the best garment, if she receives guest or
herself is invited somewhere to dinner. By all means let her abstain from drinking liquor, for a drunken man is bad enough, but a drunken woman has not place in the world. A woman ought to talk with her lady friends of handiwork
and housekeeping. She must pay attention to any good word that is said in her own house, or in that of her friend;
how good women live, how they keep house, manage their household, instruct their children, obey their husbands, and ask their advice in everything and submit to them. And if there is anything she does not know, let her politely inquire about it. It is good to meet such good women, not for the sake of eating and drinking with them, but for the sake of
good conversation and information, for it is profitable to listen to them”.
It was wonderful to see Lenoid’s various collections and to hear the different stories about his collections. I was
surprised to find out that Lenoid was a craftsman and I was interested in some of the different designs and techniques that he used with wood.Many of the homes that I see here use metal gates and metal front doors due the cold weather and maintenance. Being a woodworker myself it was nice to see the large wood fence and the beautiful designs of the locks and hinges used on the doors and gates and the handmade lights.
Copyright © 2014 Paul In Russia