Monday, December 31, 2012

A Bit of Beach Time

After a few days at the beach with our family, Jeff is back at the Mount Vernon forge to celebrate New Year's Eve and Day.   The break was welcome, but we found ourselves chatting on the long drive about upcoming demos for the next year and our various creative goals.   The upcoming year is looking full, indeed!

Look for a notice soon about a tool-making class that Jeff wants to start up in the next week or so (probably on Sunday afternoons)....and also a repeat of his beginning smithing class, too!  If you are interested, please let us know.

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Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Christmas Eve Forging with a Camel

Jeff was busy working in the blacksmith's shop at Mount Vernon on Christmas Eve.  The kids and I visited him for lunch and made him pose next to Aladdin the Camel before he returned to work.  George Washington actually had a camel brought in for the Christmas season in 1787.  Aladdin was much more interested in eating all the leaves off of the holly tree behind Jeff! 

If you are interested in chatting with Jeff at Mount Vernon, he'll be in the blacksmith's shop on 12/31 and 1/1. 

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Happy Holidays From Blackforest ArtWorks

Happy Holidays from Black Forest ArtWorks!

We've had an incredible year filled with blacksmithing, photography, living history demonstrations and even a few creative ventures outside our "comfort zones" (i.e. icon-writing and basket-making, anyone?!).  It's been a lot of fun but the best part has been spending time with old friends and making new ones. Thank you so much for being part of our 2012. We are excited to see what next year brings! 

Jeff and Caitlin


Monday, December 17, 2012

Jeff at Mount Vernon's Candlelight Nights

We've been more than a bit busy over here.  It's gotten to be....."If it's a weekend night, Jeff is working at Mount Vernon for Candlelight Nights until 11 p.m."  Luckily, he's having a great time.  On a recent evening, photographer Renee Ruggles for the Mount Vernon Gazette came and took a lovely photo.   Thank you!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Holiday Art Projects

Every year, we try to decorate a few ornaments for our tree.  This year, we worked from an idea I'd seen on a blog (I can't recall the source at the moment) where someone had melted bits of crayons inside glass ornaments using a hair dryer.  We tried it with oil pastels.  The effect is striking!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Demo at St. Albans

Last week, Jeff had the opportunity to demonstrate blacksmithing at St. Albans School in D.C.  We'd met one of their amazing teachers, John Campbell, at another one of our blacksmithing events earlier this past year and had continued chatting about various ways to incorporate blacksmithing into his history curriculum.  Other teachers became interested, and Jeff ended up demonstrating for the World History, English and Cities classes at St. Albans. 

All the classes had been studying material that was connected to blacksmithing in some fashion.  The Cities class was studying metallurgy; the English classes studied Great Expectations, and the World History students studied the Industrial Revolution and the events leading up to it.  All in all, it made sense for Jeff to show them how nails were made and fit into the economy of colonial America and beyond. 

Some estimates say that there were over 100 million nails made a day in Europe by 50,000 nailers, each making about 2,000 nails a day during the colonial period.  Nails were commonplace at that time and a typical four room house took roughly 30,000 nails.  Nails are an important stepping stone in the development of an industrial society, and Jeff discussed the Wealth of Nations and compared the colonial blacksmthing of nails to their mass production.

One of our goals was to engage the boys in a practical way to express what they'd been learning in the classroom, and blacksmithing seemed to be a great fit.  We decided to start with a demo and use it to gauge the boys' interest in possibly starting a guild at the school.  Over 70 students participated in the demo, getting a chance to help forge a colonial-style nail.   The boys seemed very interested and enjoyed the day a lot. We are excited to see what develops!

These photos are from St. Albans' Facebook page.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

What a Surprise!

I recently received a letter announcing that two of my photographs will be in the 2014 Gardeners of America calendar.  What a nice surprise!

I took these photos of tulips from my home garden in April of 2011 with my Nikon D40 and standard Tamron 18-270mm lens. 

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

A Thanksgiving Trivet

Jeff finished this gorgeous trivet just in time for his client's Thanksgiving meal.  It is beautiful! 

I'd like him to make at least one more!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Autumn Reflections

Saturday, November 3, 2012

November Wonders

I went for a walk today at Huntley Meadows, a local wetlands park.  I was feeling a bit under a deadline, since their local photography competition has already started and I didn't have much to contribute.  A long supporter of the park, I try to participate in the annual contest, so I wanted to get out to the boardwalk and take some photos.  But, it seemed that nothing was working....the kids were tired and cranky due to an early-morning swim meet and the light was all wrong since I'd hoped for a lovely autumnal warmth and ended up with a cloudy, Novemberish afternoon.

But, it is what it is....and much of art is all about faith, anyways....  so I headed out and prayed for the best. 

And, I discovered the reflections, cattails, and seed pods.....


Monday, October 29, 2012

Hurricane Sandy-Inspired Basket

In honor of the "free time" caused by Hurricane Sandy (i.e. most everything has been cancelled!), Jeff made a basket today.  Joe Bruneau, the artist who teaches us at Kanuga on our summer vacation, had challenged Jeff to make a flat basket.  And, so he did.

We hope you like it, Joe!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Demo at Claude Moore's October Market Fair

We had a great time this past weekend at Claude Moore Colonial Farm's Market Fair.  Held three times a year (October, May and July), it's always a lot of fun for everyone.  We've demo'd at this venue more than any other, so it's a bit of a homecoming for us.  It's a great opportunity to catch up with lots of friends....and make new ones.

Jeff did some fine forging.  As always, we produced a lot of colonial-style nails.  Nails remain the perfect piece to show both colonial history and a finished product within a few minutes.  Jeff also worked on some new candlesticks (photos coming soon once he makes some more; we sold all that he made). 

Jeff also made a massive bottle opener that became one of the funniest parts of our weekend. 

Just for fun, Jeff started with a big piece of steel, which set the tone for a bottle-opener that would not be easily lost!   As he worked on it, he developed quite a following as folks wanted to see just how it would end up.  Our friend and fellow smith, Curt, stopped by and was enlisted to work on it for a few minutes, too.

Finally, after finishing it off with a small leaf, Jeff rushed down to the tavern for a bottle so we could test it.  He soon returned with a bottle of Ginger Beer and the crowd helped us test it, as we were all rather eager to see if it would work.  It did!  Unfortunately, I didn't get any photos of the piece as it was sold and went home with its new owner a few minutes later.  It was good fun, though!

Over the course of the weekend, we chatted with around 3,500 people.  In one instance, as a group of teenage girls watched Jeff and started to understand the process of smithing, one girl announced to her friends...."Wow, that is epic!"  I'd never quite referred to blacksmithing in that way, but she's quite right! 

Thursday, October 18, 2012

A Fall Day at Huntley Meadows

Today, I had an opportunity to experience a beautiful fall morning at Huntley Meadows Park.  This wetland/woodland park is an amazing place -- I always see something new! 



I got the chance to walk along the paths today with the children in the local school where I am an assistant teacher.  These children are quite good naturalists and it's a treat to learn from them. 



Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Candy Canes in October

We might not have the kids' Halloween costumes figured out, but we are in fine shape for the December holidays!  Jeff has been in the forge making candy cane ornaments.  We made a few last year as gifts for teachers, but we were definitely a bit behind and didn't have time to make many more. 

This year is different.

Jeff is already making a bunch for a local organization as the company's gifts for the staff/volunteers.  We'll also have some with us at Claude Moore Colonial Farm this weekend as we demo for their Market Fair.  If you'd like some and can't make it out to the Market Fair, just contact us and we'll be glad to ship them to you.


And, if you happen to have ideas for Halloween costumes, please feel free to pass those along, too!