Sunday, August 26, 2012

Summer Wrap-Up and Fall Events

It has been a while since we sent out an update, so we have lots to share as you can see in our summer recap below.  Before we get to the summary, though, we wanted to let you know we have several events coming up in the next month or so:
  • First, we are blacksmithing at the Virginia Scottish Games over Labor Day weekend. This is a super-fun event that we've always tried to attend as spectators since we have ties to the Clan McPherson -- we love the athletic games, food, and the music! This year, though, we get to demonstrate as colonial blacksmiths. Black Forest ArtWorks (aka McPherson's Forge for this event) will be set up in the living history area. 
  • Also on September 22nd, we'll be blacksmithing at the Jefferson Patterson Park Museum, 10 a.m. - 5 p.m., St. Leonard, Maryland.
  • And, we wouldn't miss Claude Moore's Market Fair on October 20 and 21st from 11-4:30 both days. The Market Fair is always a great, kid-friendly event!
Please come out and visit -- we'd love to see you!
Don't let this nice photo of a lazy straw hat easily sunning itself fool you! Until we put together this note and saw all the stuff we have been doing, we thought this photo was a nice way to kick off our summer recap.  Instead, maybe we should have used a jet or a speeding thoroughbred, but neither of those would be a natural fit for us and we happen to like the photo, so we will leave it in. 
We hope you like the photo Caitlin took also because it does capture how we think we live, so please read on because it's been quite a summer for the Black Forest ArtWorks team.
While neither of us got all the items on our individual creative "to-do" lists anywhere near done (how exactly did I expect to write a cookbook when the kids were home from school?!), we did have a great time along the way. 

Jeff has been blessed by some amazing blacksmithing opportunities this summer.  He spent the better part of a week with artist and friend Nol Putnam in Penland and then enjoyed a great week at the action-packed ABANA conference in Rapid City, South Dakota.


We also blacksmithed our way through some amazing events at Old Wye Colonial Fair, Nanticoke River Jamboree and Claude Moore's Market Fair in May and July, as well as some smaller demonstrations for 4-H and other groups.  The whole family had a wonderful time, meeting some incredible folks and educating people on the art and mystery of blacksmithing.  

Jeff also got a chance to climb a 40-foot wall (something he didn't expect to do this summer, nor was it really on his wish list!) and fell in love with the art of basket-making.   He also got to hear some great bluegrass music in the Shenandoah Valley (Jeff is in the front row, wearing his signature hat) and now wants to start demo'ing at bluegrass festivals--we'll see if that happens!

While Caitlin might not have been able to sit at the computer for the hours necessary to write her cookbook, she did manage to try her hand at icon-writing thanks to some very good teachers who were more than willing to help out (thank you, Jen and Lynda!).

She also taught about a hundred kids how to card wool at a Farm Skill's workshop.  That was a fun challenge -- she's just grateful she didn't have the spinning station! She will need to practice with the drop spindle a bit more for that!
Also, we had a good summer in the garden and have put up plenty of pesto, tomato sauce and even tried a version of curry ketchup.  We also made our own mozzarella cheese as well as a Happy Birthday peach pie (or two)... and just the other day found a recipe for homemade ginger ale that I'd love to try before school starts. 

We are nowhere ready for the summer to be over, but we have lots of exciting plans for fall so please keep checking back on our blog for regular updates.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Our Summer Vacation: Climbing, Hiking and Art, Too!

We spent a week at Kanuga, an Episcopal retreat center in North Carolina that offers summer guest periods.  The kids got to go to camp and also enjoyed crafts, swimming, boating....and lots of other activities.   The kids didn't get all the fun, though.

 Kanuga also offers programs for adults, so Jeff tried out all sorts of new things.  He almost get to the top of a climbing wall, wearing his ABANA tee-shirt, no less!  It's rather funny how many conversations the ABANA tee-shirt spurs...even on a climbing wall!

In addition, he discovered a love of creating baskets, thanks to local artist Joe Bruneau.  I made some baskets myself (I generally showed up to weave after Jeff created the structure out of various vines) but I spent most of my time hiking.  

We had lots of fun and now are ready for the next adventure..... It looks like we'll be demo'ing at the Virginia Scottish Games over Labor Day Weekend.  Details are still being sorted out, but we'll keep you posted!

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Our Summer Vacation: History on the Way There

It took us a couple of days to reach our vacation destination, partly because it was 9 or so hours away, and partly because we stopped at two historical museums and various state parks on the way.   At the Frontier Culture Museum, we were happy to run into a blacksmith that we had previously gotten to know at Colonial Williamsburg. We were walking into the Irish forge and the head blacksmith was leaving for lunch.  Jeff said, "Chris???"   The blacksmithing world is small, indeed!

And, then, at the Settlers Museum of Southwest Virginia, we were excited to continue the learning that we had started at the Frontier Culture Museum....and we were especially happy to see the same type of rivet forge that we use for our travelling displays. It was a great reinforcement that our historical statements are correct for that type of forge and blower! 

Friday, August 3, 2012

More Photos from the Nanticoke River Jamboree

These photos are from the demo we did near Cambridge, Maryland, at the Nanticoke River Jamboree in support of the Restore Handsell effort.   These photos are from the Facebook page for the event.  It was a great day, albeit quite hot!

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Out of My Comfort Zone with the Angel Gabriel

I rather think it's good to be trying something new.  Good....but not necessarily comfortable.  I'm not a painter, by any means, yet I'm taking an icon-writing class at church on Sundays.  This year, we had a choice as to which icon we'd paint -- the Angel Michael or the Angel Gabriel.  I chose Gabriel.

As I watch people who have more experience with the paintbrush, I've seen just how NOT comfortable I am.  I don't know how to "shadow" or even use the brush in a way that really works.

But, it's good to try something new.  As my yoga teacher says, "Fear the familiar".   He laughs after he says that sentence, but it's a true statement.  The familiar is good, but we also need to branch out and experience new things.  I'm learning a lot, if only about how I'm not so comfortable with a paintbrush and how grateful I am for teachers who can correct errors, after I "lost" the Angel Gabriel's ear and part of his mouth in the class session after I snapped this photo.  It also helps to have a sense of humor when trying out new creative endeavors!

Plus, the art of icon writing is fascinating.  And, the 3 hours I'm spending in class on Sundays are totally the most peaceful time of my week.

This photo was taken mid-class.  By next week, the Angel Gabriel should be nearing completion.