Friday, October 9, 2015

Living History at Leonard’s Mills 2015

This past weekend we went up to the Leonard’s Mills Living History Days. The visitor traffic was better than it has been in years. Lots of folks with lots of questions. Totally fun. This year was nice because although the week’s forecast has been calling for rain both days, it shifted away as we got closer to Friday. It turned out to be beautifully clear and crisp. Just like a good Fall ought to be. Because of the favorable weather I was able to set up my bench and tool chest outside of our “settler’s cabin”. On rainy years, I’ve had to find a roof to work under somewhere.

This was Asher’s first year so he got a lot of attention. (What else is new?) Eden was on adventures all weekend with his gracious friend, Ben.  They made fires, carved a boat, and somehow time warped across the bridge into the Civil War camp. Eden promptly lost the 1790s paraphernalia for a keppi and a rifle. They warned me that kids grow up fast but… 70 years just like that? And it seemed only like yesterday. Ah well.

I worked all weekend on a commissioned rope bed that’s long overdue. I decided this bed would get double tenons for the rails so I got to demonstrate cutting those both days. All went together smooth and I was able to use the project as a launching point for other discussion on period workmanship.

At three o’clock each day we did an 18th century wedding service. The couple who organized this thing asked me to officiate. They compiled the sermon from 18th century texts so basically all I had to do was read the manuscript.  We don’t do that every year so I appreciated being asked to participate.

This event is such an important tradition for our family. It’s like camping, only better. We look forward to it all year long. If you can swing it, I really recommend you join us next year. It’s a total blast.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Demonstrating 1790s Maine Life

This morning Julia and I are packing up the van to head out to Leonard’s Mills Living History Days. For years now, we’ve demonstrated 1790s Maine frontier life at this annual event. We usually stay in the small settler’s log cabin. That’s where Julia teaches visitors about cooking and general 18th century domestic life (which will be interesting with our newest addition this year). I always bring my portable workbench and tool chest to demonstrate period cabinetmaking. Last year I worked on Asher’s cradle/co-sleeper. This year I am going to be working on a commissioned rope bed similar to the one I built for Julia’s birthday a few years ago.

There will also be a new feature this year: we will be demonstrating a late 18th century wedding in which I will be officiating as minister. I am not really ordained and this is not an actual wedding but it should be a lot of fun because the script is pieced together from various 18th century wedding services. There will be music and period dancing lessons afterward. It will be both days at 3pm, I believe.

The Living History event is all day Saturday and Sunday. Check out the Facebook event page with directions, etc here: It looks like the forecast is shaping up to be totally rain free, which is always a blessing at this event. I always love it when I get to meet readers of The Diary so I genuinely hope to see you there.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

And the Winner is… David Taylor!

This morning the 3/8” beading plane giveaway contest is over. There were again a bunch of really great answers out there on Instagram and here on the blog. So many different facets to the issue were addressed.
Here was the contest’s question: 

Why do you believe celebrating historic furniture making by studying and recreating it is important for both woodworkers and the broader culture today?

Nathan Spalding wrote, “If we fail to understand our predecessor's methods of work…we handicap our current and future work” and Ethan from MO says it leaves us “doomed to IKEA”. Others contributed, “The old masters gave us the principles, standards and understanding of how to best use our tools." (@exoticwoodshavings) and “Learning how things work and learning how to [make] real things is the richest form of education and engagement.” (@thesallyfisher) 

Chris Hammerbach told us how we “discover that while the lives of our ancestors were different, their minds and hearts were much the same” which was aptly summarized by what @ericwrightdotgif described as “humans being human”. Overarching all this is the idea that “most people live in the hope that they will leave something greater than themselves behind” (@sledgehamner).

These are all excellent points but David Taylor’s answer hit me in just the right way as I sorted through all the responses. David wrote, We are in danger of becoming a culture and a people who have lost a connection with the past that can tie us to the future, and recreating historical pieces strengthens that tie so that we as woodworkers can help society at large retain the tenuous relationship with our ancestors and descendants alike.”

Congratulations, David. You’ve nailed it. Send me an email with your info and I’ll get drop this plane in the mail!

Thank you to all who entered. What fun!