Sunday, June 12, 2011

The Last Old Time Demo

Yesterday Ken and I set up my collection of blacksmithing tools which represent the late 1800's and did a short three hour demo to augment the activities of the Symphony in the Flint Hills event.

The location was on the grounds of the historic Richard Howe house, a two story Welsh farmstead completed by the stonemason owner in 1867. It is constructed with eighteen-inch thick limestone walls. The interior has a parlor fireplace, black walnut woodwork, native oak floors and some original furniture, china and clothing.

This early settlement house has been preserved in its near original condition by three generations of the Howe family who occupied the home for 140 years. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1986. The 15 acre property was willed to the Lyon County Historical Society in 1995 by Sarah Howe, the granddaughter of Richard Howe. The homestead also includes a well, low stone walls, and a barn, which contains a collection of antique farm tools and masonry equipment. The house is open for tours by appointment.

A couple of links:

We set up, as usual, under the shade of a large tree covered with virginia creeper near the barn. In the time allowed we never seem to get much completed even though we bring all the pieces and tools needed for a couple of period items. Yesterday it was a hearth kettle tilter and sawtooth trammel. We displayed some cooking utensils, fat lamp and dinner bell set made on other occasions.

Our demonstration was the fifth one we have done at this site and ends a ten-year string of similar shows. I have decided to decline future invitations although I will continue to demonstrate in the studio.

It has been mostly enjoyable, working outdoors, visiting with the spectators about the history and techniques of the craft and showing the basic processes. There have been some unpleasant days of drenching rain, oppressive heat, or pesky wind, but the real limiting factor is the difficulty of loading, transporting to the site, unloading and setup, loading again and transporting home and finally unloading again. All this takes a lot of heavy lifting and the better part of three days.

These are unpaid, public service events. They have become very tiring as advancing age erodes physical power and they have never garnered much profitable business. More than anything, I think, they have preserved some interest in the craft and I can always identify with the person who comes up and remarks that the smell of the coal fire is a pleasant reminder of such and such from their childhood. Nostalgia is a sweet treat.

No comments:

Post a Comment

I don't often check for blog comments, so the best way to contact me is directly: at or