Friday, June 4, 2010

A good day’s work in the Blacksmith Shop

The Fields Blacksmith Shop is both a historic building open to the public as well as a workshop producing restoration hardware for the Museum and items to sell in Todd's General Store. As a result, our work is both different from a shop in the 1840s, and from a modern ironworking shop. We produce accurate hardware and tools for restoration and upkeep of the Museum structures through use of traditional methods. We do, however, live in the modern world. Last week a little girl was visiting with her family. After looking around the blacksmith shop, she asked where I slept! She was a little disappointed to hear that I don’t live in the Museum.
Our day always starts with building fires and planning the work for the day. That can include a number of projects. We generally have a short demonstration project, a medium length repair or production job, and a long-term large project underway each day. When children arrive and want to see blacksmithing, we make nails, pot hooks, or other small quick items. Those are used internally or sold in the store. We use around 2,000 nails each year just maintaining our own buildings!
When visitors are patient we work on more complicated projects like trivets, tool-making, or historic repair hardware like hinges. Finally, when the shop is quiet, we work on the largest and most complicated projects. Currently, that includes making a large weathervane. It will have around 40 separate forged and decorative parts. I’ll post more about that project soon.  Here are some weathervane components:
At least once each week an emergency repair arises within the Museum. In the last week, we have made parts for the broom maker’s winding machine, helped the printer to cut type, and made display hardware for the Todd's General Store. We could easily get jobs like making nails to repair a door, parts for a latch, or repairing a tool for the farmers. Last week, we cleared a space in the shed for our farrier to shoe Zeb, the farm horse.

There's always something new to do at the Blacksmith Shop!


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  5. Steve, I envy you, sir! I do Historical Interpretation at a Texas Historical Park but must bring my own forge, anvil and tools every time I demonstrate. I really like your work!

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