Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Holiday Travels -- A Visit with Kelly Smyth

The highlight of our whirlwind travel from DC to Florida was a visit with our friend, Kelly Smyth. If you haven't checked out her ironwork, you definitely should! Kelly is a wonderful artist with an expertise in traditional ironwork. She has forged ships’ hardware for many recently constructed historic vessels -- just last year we admired her work on the Susan Constant and Discovery, at Jamestown Settlement and the Kalmar Nyckel. We got to know Kelly years ago when we demo'd with her at Claude Moore Colonial Farm, and she's been a special part of our lives ever since. She even gave our kids their first blackmsithing lessons!  

Friday, December 12, 2014

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

A Thanksgiving Holiday in Williamsburg

While the highlight of the holiday had to be Jeff's chance to work in the Colonial Williamsburg blacksmith's shop, we also enjoyed the holiday decorations, a lovely rental house that was not in Williamsburg but could have been because it was so period-correct, Rev Quest (the spy game), and York River State Park.

Xander discovered that every fence hides something amazing, like sheep!

Monday, December 1, 2014

Jeff in Colonial Williamsburg's Blacksmith Shop

Jeff had a fabulous time blacksmithing in the James Anderson Blacksmith's Shop at Colonial Williamsburg this past Friday.  It was the highlight of his Thanksgiving holiday, to be sure!  Many thanks to Fred for this photo!

Monday, November 24, 2014

Jeff Welds a Coal Forge

It's the "off season" for us, so both Jeff and I are taking advantage of the time to learn some new things and work on some projects that simply can't get done when we are teaching and demonstrating most every weekend.  Of course, Jeff is teaching a lot during this season, too (next weekend is a custom class that will make shepherd's crooks...and a few weekends ago was a custom class that made bottle openers).  And, we are already putting together our demo schedule for next year.  But, this past weekend, Jeff went to his own class and welded a coal forge.  He had a great time.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Friday in Focus: A Meadow in November's light

Location: River Farm, American Horticultural Society
Camera: Nikon D7000
Lens: Nikon DX 35mm 1:1.8G

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Our Soap, Notecards and Ironwork on Display at AHS

The gift shop at River Farm, the headquarters of the American Horticultural Society, has a lovely display of our soap (including Orange/Tea tree, Peppermint, Lavender/Lemongrass, and Cinnamon/Clove and Citrus),  photography notecards, as well as a few pieces of ironwork, including the last remaining trivet!  While you can always order directly from us, I encourage you to stop by their gift shop if you are in the neighborhood.  They have some amazing products -- perfect for holiday gifts!

Many thanks to Jane at AHS for taking this photo!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

It's Still in the Family! (My Son Under a Blanket at a Demo)

This is a photo of one of my sons at a blacksmithing demo this summer. He wasn't under the table (like I was when I was his age at an event), but close!

Monday, November 17, 2014

It's All in the Family (Caitlin under a display table)

My father took this photo of me in July 1973 at an art show in Michigan, where my great-grandmother was displaying some of her weaving.  Grandma Blanche was a tremendous fiber artist, usually working on room-sized pieces.  I have no recollection of this show but find it rather funny that we now display our art at numerous shows....and my kids hang out under the display table!

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Pioneer Farm at Mount Vernon Closes for the Winter

After a day of cooking over the open hearth (chicken and leek soup, ale bread, and bread pudding with apples), we said goodbye to our final group of children at Colonial Days, and started to close up Pioneer Farm at Mount Vernon for the winter.  We won't staff it again until Colonial Days in March and fully for visitors in April.  I will miss being at Pioneer Farm!  It's a beautiful place on its own, and even more so, when you consider the history behind it.  Here are a few photos from earlier this fall:

I am truly blessed to be able to work with the wonderful staff of Historic Trades at Mount Vernon!

Friday, November 14, 2014

Friday in Focus: Sun-kissed Goldenrod

As we receive the first snow flurries of late fall/early winter, I find comfort in this photo from River Farm (the headquarters of the American Horticultural Society).  Full of warmth and sun, snow seems a long ways away.....

Thursday, November 13, 2014

The Reality of Living History Interpretation in the Winter Months!

 I work at Mount Vernon tomorrow and I am ever so grateful for hand and toe warmers!  It's not easy to do living history interpretation in full costume during the winter months!

Sunday, November 9, 2014

On a Rare Day Without a Blacksmithing Event....

On a rare day without a blacksmithing event, we still chose to leave the house by 6.am. to take Xander to see his sister Jennie (and her owner and our friend Helen!) at an Earthdog test.   Xander has spent many hours at blacksmithing demos, so this day was for him!

And, if you want to see the siblings showing their affection....:

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Metallurgy Day at St. Albans School (With Costumes for Halloween!)

We had a fantastic demo at St. Albans School on Halloween.  We've been working with the Upper School to link their history curriculum with blacksmithing and other related topics.   This is the 3rd year we've presented at the school and it just gets better and better.  We present at many places, but this is the ONLY demo where we hear student-written "Odes to Metallurgy" and discuss Adam Smith's Wealth of Nations in great detail, as well as the iron-related deforestation of Europe and the East Coast of the United States.  In addition, this is our only demo in which the students (and some teachers!) are allowed to actually forge with Jeff.  



 This year, our presentation fell on Halloween and the students had "free dress" so we enjoyed their costumes -- it has to be the first time Jeff has taught to gorillas, bananas, clowns, and Hamlet!

 In addition, the school arranged for apple-cider pressing, a peat fire, and folk music:

As the school website said so well, "Students were able to have a full sensory experience with the smell of burning coal, the taste of fresh-pressed cider, the sounds of folk music and the hammer on the anvil, and the feel of what it took to make even the simplest nail. The boys enjoyed the opportunity shape various metal tools fresh off the hot coals."  We are looking forward to returning next year!