Friday, October 24, 2014

Friday in Focus: Yellow Makes Me Happy

From my home garden....more cosmos!  

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Grateful for Improved Fire-Making Skills

One of the wonderful aspects of working at Mt. Vernon is the chance to improve my living history skills.  On any given day, I am given lots of opportunities to learn.  Today, was a very wet and cold day...rather dreary, actually, so I was happy to have a chance to work on my fire-building skills!

My colleague used the fire (and the dutch oven preheating next to the fire) to make an incredible 18th century pear recipe from Hannah Glasse:
Pare six large winter pears, and either quarter them or do them whole: they make a pretty dish with one whole, the rest cut in quarters, and the cores taken out; lay them in a deep earthern pot, with a few cloves, a piece of lemon-peel, a gill of red wine, and a quarter of a pound of fine sugar; if the pears are very large, they will take half a pound of sugar, and half a pint of red wine; cover them close with brown paper, and bake them till they are enough.
Serve them hot or cold (just as you like them), and they will be very good with water in the place of wine.
They were very, very good!   And, they would be very easy to make in a modern kitchen as well!

Monday, October 20, 2014

Our Blacksmithing Demo at Claude Moore's October Market Fair

We spent a lovely fall weekend at Claude Moore Colonial Farm's Market Fair.  Jeff and Vince did some great forging, making Frederick crosses and cooking implements (i.e. trivets, a tripod, vegetable skewers, and a beautiful spit).  As always, the fair offers many entertainments and artists (i.e. spinners, rope-makers, pewter-smiths, children's games, fencing, etc..).  Here are some scenes:





Friday, October 17, 2014

Friday in Focus: Cosmos at River Farm

I love Cosmos.  These were enjoyed at River Farm, the headquarters of the American Horticultural Society -- one of my favorite places for nature photography!

Thursday, October 16, 2014

The Trailer is Fixed!

We are very thankful to Greg Cool (a welder who is also an actor) who came out to Clifton Mansion last night and fixed out trailer.  We had to replace the A-frame coupler so we could reattach it to our truck.  Many thanks, Greg!  And, many thanks to the good folks at Clifton Mansion who were so understanding of us having to leave the trailer there for several days until we could get it repaired.  We are now able to get to our demo at Claude Moore Colonial Farm this weekend!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

A Paper Marbling Class at Cat Tail Run Hand Book Bindery - A Wonderful Experience

A couple of weeks ago, I had the pleasure of taking a class in paper marbling with Regina and Dan St. Johns, of Chena River Marblers, at Cat Tail Run Hand Book Bindery in Winchester, Virginia.   It was so much fun!

Marbling had been suggested to me as a possible demonstration (beside Jeff when he is blackmsithing) at historical events.  While I loved marbling, the 18th-century process can pretty much only be done by a handful of people and I am not one of them at this point!  Dan St. John is one such individual, I should point out.  The historical process is very complex and involves much study and specially-handcrafted paints.  I hope to learn that one day, but suffice it to say, I still have much to learn with modern materials! Neither Jeff nor I believe in trying to teach something we aren't proficient in -- that's not fair to anyone -- so I am tabling the idea of demonstrating marbling for the time being.  Instead, I am going to enjoy it for myself!

Regina and Dan are incredibly patient and skilled teachers, and I thoroughly enjoyed being with them and the other students for two days.  There is a lot of bad marbling out there, and to see it done very, very well was a treat.  And, to learn some pointers from them was even more special!  Students came from all over the country because the St. Johns are so well-recognized in their field.

Some students had taken the same class for the past 4 years!  As for myself, I was a newbie and am still trying to avoid air bubbles in my work, but I improved over the two days and discovered a love of color and a love for the process.   I can't wait to learn more.

And, I want to mention that Cat Tail Run Book Bindery is an amazing place on its own.  Jill, the owner, and her staff are so talented and welcoming that it is a treat to drive down the lane and enter the property, where books are loved and cats roam the property.  While it doesn't come up much, I do have a master's degree in English Literature, so I am very happy among both books and cats!  Jill offers a slew of classes on book binding, as well, if you are so interested.

So, many thanks to Dan and Regina St. John, and Jill and the rest of the staff at Cat Tail Run Hand Book Bindery for a wonderful class in paper marbling!

Monday, October 13, 2014

Our Demo at Clifton Mansion -- What a Day!

All demos are unique and there is always something surprising, but our demo at Clifton Mansion this past Saturday stood out in the midst of a very busy season.  We were happy to demo at at the newly-restored Clifton Mansion for their 1812 event "A Day at Clifton: After the Battle" but we don't usually show up with our trailer on a tow truck!   This was a first for us.

On the way to the event, our trailer suddenly came unhitched from the truck.  Thankfully, the safety chains held and Jeff was able to get safely to the side of a busy highway.  We are so grateful to the wonderful Baltimore Police officers who helped us with traffic control in the rain for an hour and a half, called an emergency tow truck, and finally waved us off with a reminder that "the show must go on!"

And so it did, with some wonderful helpers (thanks Jeff, Robert and William!) who helped us set up very quickly and efficiently.

We discovered that the 1812 event had been combined with the Civic Works Day of Service, where 400 members of the community had served among the community all morning and then returned to Clifton Mansion to enjoy special events and participate in the "After the Battle" historical event.  It was a wonderful opportunity to get to introduce the art of blacksmithing to many people who had never seen it before.

While Jeff taught the guests outside, I took the opportunity to admire the Mansion: 


So, despite a surprising start to the rainy day, we ended up blessed to be able to educate appreciative guests and share in Clifton Mansion's celebration of its ongoing-restoration.