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.