It’s anything but quiet in January for Historic Trades. In addition to being knee deep in training (giving and receiving), several shops are moving, there are four new shop masters, and an old craft is reappearing.
Was that a loom you saw being borne down Duke of Gloucester St.? Er, could be. The Weaving Shop is just one of four that is headed to a new home in the coming weeks. They’ll be heading a few doors down DoG St. to the Greenhow Tenement, next to the Shoemaker.
The Gunsmiths will move lock, stock, and barrel back to their former home in the Ayscough House just south of the Capitol. That means the joiners need to move, so they’ll be hauling their tools all the way down to the Taliaferro-Cole Shop, presently occupied by… the weavers. Confused yet?
Well, there’s one more. The Tailors will be decamping from the Margaret Hunter Shop to the Durfey Shop near Merchants Square, but not until early April. That’s also the timetable for the Weavers. Those two are taking a bit longer because neither building was a trade shop before; one was a residence, the other an office. So outfitting the new spaces will take a couple of months, delaying their reopening.
The moves will give the shops room to explore their fullest potential. Many have been sharing workspaces for the sake of economy, but the hope is that a higher density of trade shops will contribute to an even stronger representation of town life. “We want guests to walk out the door and immediately see somewhere else to go,” said Peter Seibert, Director of Historic Trades.
Already, both the Weavers and Gunsmiths are in the process of hiring new apprentices.
Recognizing Great Leaders
Four people were recently named Master of the Shop for their respective trades: Karen Clancy for the Weaving Shop, Ted Boscana for the Joinery, Jason Whitehead for the Masonry Trades, and Kaare Loftheim for the Cabinet Shop.
It’s the first time a Master of the Shop will be recognized for all but the Cabinet Shop. Peter explained that a committee of senior tradespersons had worked this past summer to develop clear criteria for earning Master status.
The new Masters were chosen for their management skills in running good shops as much as for their expertise at plying their particular trades.
What does it mean to run a good shop? First and foremost, it means having a well-executed interpretive plan that allows guests to get the most out of their visits. But it also means mentoring the next generation of Historic Tradespeople and participation in the committee work that ensures the Trades will continue to flourish.
All of Our Beeswax
Finally, 2016 will bring the return of candlemaking after a three decade absence. Above is a picture of what it looked like then. Tom Redd, who made candles in the Historic Area back in the day, is leading the effort, which will debut in April and run into September.
Weather permitting, that is. Why? Because it will be interpreted as an outdoor craft set up behind the joiners at the Taliaferro-Cole House, operating seven days a week with about four staff at a time.
They will demonstrate dipping and molding, the two primary methods of candlemaking, using beeswax and the occasional bayberry. “All you need to make candles,” says Tom, “is a stick, two chairs, and a piece of string.” But they’ll be better equipped than that.
They’ll actually be using some of the same equipment that was used when the craft was last demonstrated in the 1980s. Back then, a couple of forward-thinking tradespeople stashed the goods away somewhere, and now they are re-emerging. (Does this kind of thing happen in other places?)
Tom promises that you’ll know when you’ve found the candlemakers. Approaching the site you’ll get “the smell of Christmas like a hammer between the eyes.” Something to look forward to.
So is the imminent launch of our new unified Historic Trades Facebook page, which will keep you informed about what’s going on with all of them in one place. Like any of the Facebook pages our Trades currently have to hear more about this move, coming soon.
Thanks again to Fred Blystone for sharing his photographs of the new shop masters and his map of the moves!