Thursday, May 31, 2012

Edible Landscaping on the Patio

We tried a new form of edible landscaping this spring and planted lettuce in between some annuals in the planters on the deck.  It worked out really well -- not only do I like the look, but it's very convenient for making salad!   I think I'll do more of this type of gardening with the fall planting of various salad greens, spinach and chard. 

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

A Decorative Ladle for a Quench Bucket

The other day, Jeff needed a break from a project he was working on and decided to quickly make a new ladle for his quench bucket.  Even utilitarian objects should be beautiful!

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Jeff at Mount Vernon

When Jeff works at the blacksmith's shop at Mount Vernon, he is either interpreting or blacksmithing.  The past two nights, he's been doing a bit of both because they had two blacksmiths on duty.  He is the only blacksmith on duty tonight, so he'll be forging all evening.

In this photo, he's interpreting, telling visitors about George Washington's blacksmithing operation. 

Friday, May 25, 2012

Mama and Baby

I take photos because the creative process of viewing things through the lens, quite simply, makes me happy.  Often, I have no idea when I'm shooting photos whether or not anything magical is occurring.  Sometimes, though, just being in the midst of a scene is magic enough, and perhaps that's the overall life lesson I'm learning.  This was one such case that I stumbled upon while sitting in the garden a couple of days ago:

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Inspiration in the Garden

Inspiration for photography is much easier for me to "find" in the spring, as soon as the first iris appear.

I have more difficulty in the colder months, although I'm trying to see the beauty in all the seasons.  Still, though, spring is a magical time for me, especially as the garden starts to perform.

Sometimes, the performance is unplanned (actually, a lot of my gardening is unplanned, or doesn't quite follow the plan I think I've made!).  I believe these flower seeds were planted last year & didn't germinate.  Our winter was quite mild and they popped up this year; unfortuantly, I don't know what they are, although I love the color, especially interpresed with the eggplant's leaves.  Any ideas?

Beauty in a carrot, gone to seed:

Raindrops on the garlic:

Monday, May 21, 2012

Demonstration at the Claude Moore Market Fair

We spent this past weekend at the Claude Moore Colonial Market Fair. Held three times a year (May, July and October), it is a wonderful, kid-friendly event. Jeff was very busy in the forge, designing an cooking system for a family who have been associated with the farm for many years and who want to be able to cook chickens over their outdoor fire at home, just like they experienced at Claude Moore. Jeff and I joked that this Market Fair will be remembered in our family as the Chicken Hook Market Fair because we spent our entire time making the hooks (and other parts of the system) and chatting about them to all the visitors. It was a good project for a demonstration, though, because the visitors  knew about the chicken since they saw it when entering the fair and could easily visualize what Jeff was making.

Like many projects, there were no "instructions" and Jeff reverse-engineered the system using the farm's pieces & then changed them as needed. He built two three-legged steel 48" tripods connected across the top by a 78" long steel cross bar. From the cross bar, four identical hooks hang which support a wooden spit that holds chicken for cooking on an open fire. The spit hooks are each hanging from a length of chain that allows the hooks to be adjusted to raise and lower the spit depending on the fire's temperature. In addition to the main cooking pieces, the set included 5 shepherd's crooks, each 5 feet long, that will be used to hold the spits away from the fire as the chickens are loaded and dressed. All of the pieces have an identical 5-inch long ornamental twist that visually ties the single pieces into a whole unit.   We were so busy that we didn't get a decent photo of the entire set, so we can't wait to see photos of the system in its new home!

It was great fun to see so many of our friends, both demonstrating and visiting the fair. I was very happy to get a lesson on spinning with a drop spindle from Rachel at Crowfoot Farm. We also picked up new period-appropriate mugs from Rudy Tucker Pottery and I was thrilled to get some new clothing from other friends who run "By My Hands Enterprises". 

We'll return to Claude Moore for their next fair on July 21 and 22. Hope to see you there!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Jeff's Work "At Home"

One of the things we love is when folks send us photos of Jeff's ironwork after it's installed in their homes.  It's something pretty special to see.  Many thanks for sending these photos to us -- Jeff's pieces look right at home in their new home! 

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

The Spring Garden


Friday, May 11, 2012

Demo at Old Wye Colonial May Fair

We had a wonderful time demoing at the Old Wye Colonial May Fair last weekend. Held on the grounds of historic Old Wye Church, the day was filled with lots of fun activities: a fife and drum corp, colonial games, a May Pole, colonial artisans and interpreters, a petting zoo, and the Blessing of the Animals, to name a few....not to mention some of the nicest people you could ever hope to meet. 

The day was all the more special because we were able to spend it with some of our friends who also interpret at various colonial events.  All in all, we had a great day and hope to do it again next year! 
Next up on the public blacksmithing schedule is the Market Fair at Claude Moore on May 19th and 20th from 11 a.m. to 4:30 each day. This is another great, kid-friendly event. Please come out and visit -- we'd love to see you!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Colonial May Fair in Wye, Maryland

Our colonial outfits are waiting to be ironed (how historically inappropriate!), the forge and anvil are ready to be loaded, we've got lots of coal & Jeff is mulling over what he'd like to create in the forge....we're all set to head out to the Colonial May Fair in Wye, Maryland.

The fair is on Saturday from 10-3 and Jeff should be demonstrating the entire time.  If you are in the neighborhood, please come out and visit with us.  We'd love to see you!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

About Us

We are a husband and wife team, doing our best to explore our creative selves while at the same time raising two active young boys and working professionally.

Jeff started blacksmithing after catching the bug in early 2008. The idea of having his own forge came in time and now has a home-based forge that operates on small projects for sale at several outlets carrying his work.

Jeff has studied under notable blacksmiths Elmer Roush, Doug Merkel, Mark Aspery, Nol Putnam, Gerald BoggsMike Tanner, George Anderton and Albin “Albie” Drzewianowski and continues studying and practicing his craft.  Jeff also actively participates in his local blacksmith guild.

Jeff was chosen in 2009 as the primary blacksmith for the Claude Moore Colonial Farm’s Market Fair events, held three times per year in McLean, Virginia. During these events, we demonstrate the craft to several thousand people in a typical weekend while dressed appropriately in 1771 attire and using Colonial tools and methods.

Jeff was recently asked to join the staff of the Blacksmith Shop at George Washington's Mount Vernon Estate and Gardens as a part-time smith demonstrating to many of the 40,000 people per week that visit the historic estate.  In August 2011, Jeff was elected to serve on the board of ABANA, the Artist Blacksmith's Association of North America.

Caitlin's love of photography started in college, as she studied journalism and communication arts. She's continued to take photos over the years and has recently begun exploring nature photography, perhaps due to all the flowers and vegetables in our own yard! Her photos have been received critical acclaim from the Washington Gardener magazine, The Gardeners of America, and Huntley Meadows Park.

We live in Alexandria, Virginia, surrounded by as much vegetable and flower gardens as we can cram into our little space. We have 15 raised beds in our yard and enjoy the full cycle from seed to compost and back again.

We also recently built a log cabin in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley which we now rent as Chestnut Oak Lodge so others may enjoy it also.

We can be reached at 703-765-3000 or at