Saturday, September 29, 2012

Photo of Jeff by John Milleker

I am so happy to show you a better copy of the photo that John Milleker took of Jeff at the Jefferson Patterson Park demo!  John is an amazing artist and is using wet plate photography in the example below.  Please check out this link for other photos that John took that day -- they are incredible!

© 2012 John Milleker Photography

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Demo at Jefferson Patterson Park

We just returned from an all-day demo at Jefferson Patterson Park at the park's 1812 Fair and Reenactment.   We usually focus on the colonial time period, so we were a bit out of place.  However, the Fair's organizers had seen us demo at other locations and asked us to come -- they didn't mind that our outfits were a bit on the antiquated side!


One of the benefits of doing demos is that we get to meet some incredible folks and get to see some unbelievable places.  And, as we were discussing on the drive home, we also get to eat some wonderful "fair" food.  We're becoming "foodies" of the various fairs -- quite a niche, I'm sure!  In that regard, Jefferson Patterson Park offered some fine crab cake sandwiches! 

We try to demo at places that really appreciate our educational mission, and this demo did not disappoint.  One boy watched intently as Jeff forged and finally asked me if the forge was plugged into the ground as he tried to figure out the power source. What a great opportunity to chat a bit about coal, fire, and, the forge.  Another teenager was so proud of himself when he'd watched Jeff make nails for a few minutes and then figured out that Jeff could cut off the nail from the longer piece of metal and then use that metal for other purposes.  It really is great to be able to educate folks on the art of blacksmithing.

The education is not one-sided, by any means.  We got to learn about the various battles that occurred near the property in 1812 and 1814.  That was exciting because our family was reading up on the War of 1812 this summer, visited the Star Spangled Banner in the Smithsonian, and want very much to visit Fort McHenry soon.   

Although I haven't taken many artistic photos recently and am waiting for inspiration (or time!), I was very excited to meet a photographer who was doing wet plate photography -- something I've never seen in person.  It's a good thing that we don't do 1st person interpretation because I can't help but chat with photographers who come to our demos.  Wet plate photography dates back to the Civil War years and was used by Ansel Adams as well, for a time.  It was absolutely fascinating to see the photographer take Jeff's photo using this method.


All in all, a lovely day.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Forging a Frame for a Trivet

Jeff is working on a frame for a trivet.  The trivet is a piece of granite which will be housed in an iron frame with handles.  It's going to be beautiful when it's finished. These photos are from the beginning stages of the project:

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Garden Curiousities

I was at the pool today with the boys and a neighbor came up and asked, "What kind of amazing corn are you growing?!  It's higher than your roof line!" 

And, it is.

We grew broom corn for the first year as an experiment because we've become fascinated by the artistry of handmade brooms.  We first discovered such brooms when we met the owners of Justamere Tree Farm at the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival many years ago.  Since then, we always buy our year's supply of maple syrup from them and admire their brooms.  In addition, we absolutely love and regularly read the children's book, Ox-Cart Man by poet Donald Hall which discusses the cycle of a small, family farm.  In that book, the boy makes birch brooms.

So, when we found some seed for broom corn at Colonial Williamsburg, we bought it and tried it out for fun.  We don't know enough (and honestly, probably didn't plant enough) to make our own broom (nor do we probably have the equipment).  But, we were curious and wanted to see what would happen. 

The answer is, simply, it grew well.

If you know how to turn broom corn into a broom, please fill us in on the process.  Or, if you know of other uses, that'd be great, too!  Otherwise, we are just enjoying the corn. 

And, while we are asking for advice, here's another question:  Does anyone know what kind of squash we are growing?

Thanks so much!

Monday, September 3, 2012

Demo at the Virginia Scottish Games

We had a great time this past Saturday and Sunday demo'ing at the Virginia Scottish Games.  This is always a fun festival -- we've attended for years, but this was the first time we'd "worked" the event.   We were asked to be a part of the Living History demonstration as colonial blacksmiths.  

As part of the demonstration, we renamed our forge for the weekend and became "MacPherson's Forge" in honor of our family, Clan MacPherson.  We had a great time catching up with our clan cousins.  Next year, we need to get a clan banner...and the kids want kilts!

Our tent was directly across from the bagpiping competition -- Jeff thinks he'll hear pipes in his sleep for many, many days! 

All in all, it was a fun weekend -- lots of great music, good food and friendly people.  We knew we were going to enjoy scotch eggs and colcannon (like I said, we are loyal attendees to the Games!) but this time, we also discovered a love for eccles cakes -- I definitely need to learn how to bake them at home!


We primarily made colonial nails as a demo piece because it shows people a quick project from start to finish, and also is a great teaching lesson about the colonial time period.   Of course, we also made other items as well and got to answer a LOT of wonderful questions.  The folks at the fair were a super appreciative audience and it was a pleasure to chat with them.   Jeff got a lot of requests for classes -- we'll have to look into that further.  He'd be great at it, if we could figure out the logistics.

We want to thank our friends for coming out to the festival -- it is so much fun to see familiar faces!  It was also great to run into folks and discover connections from the community -- it's a small world, indeed!  We might start out chatting about nails and then discover that they are a veterinarian at our local animal hospital....and that sort of thing happens over and over.   One funny thing is that people are starting to come up to us and tell us that they've seen us various other events. 

At the end of the weekend, we felt like we'd made lots of new friends ---what a great way to spend the holiday!