December 4, 2013
Mr. Jefferson has observed that though he is an old man, he is but a young gardener. Gardening is, indeed, a humbling experience and we often learn our lessons from unexpected quarters.
The planting of broad beans, or what the Italians term fava beans, is a case in point.
At one time we were accustomed to planting our beans in September at the same time we sowed our kale and turnips. We had, at best, mixed results from this planting as the resultant plants were prone to fall down and perish if the weather turned severe. We had several failures over the years and were forced to replant in early spring which does not provide a reliable harvest in Tidewater Virginia if the weather turns warm too early.
Several years ago the seeds we planted in September were discovered by squirrels and the mischievous vermin dug up and devoured every one. By the time we realized that all the seeds had been taken and were able to procure more seed from a seed house some distance from Williamsburg, it was the third week of November. This was far past the season we were used to planting beans but as the notable scholar and mentor to the famous Mr. Franklin, Cadwallader Colden, was wont to express, “nothing ventured, nothing gained,” so we decided to make the experiment.
To our great astonishment this later planting date proved to be the proper season and one that we have adopted ever since as we have discovered that smaller plants, no taller than three inches high, are best able to endure the trials of winter.
The broad bean is a large seed that is best planted in rows with a dibble and we have found that a light dressing of poultry manure laid over all will discourage the depredations from squirrels. Once the beans are up we construct a crude arbor of sticks and cover it with straw when night time temperatures dip below 25 degrees on Mr. Fahrenheit’s scale.
From this planting we are now able to reliably harvest broad beans by late April before the heat of summer commences and ends the season of this oft overlooked but worthy component of the kitchen garden.
December 3, 2013
Historic Jamestowne is planning a special event on April 5, 2014 – the reenacted wedding of Pocahontas and John Rolfe, marking the 400th anniversary of the legendary nuptials. In a collaboration between Historic Jamestowne and the Colonial Williamsburg Costume Design Center, Pocahontas’ wedding jacket also will be recreated with help from volunteers.
Embroiderers of all skill levels are needed to help finish the garment.
“This is the first time Jamestowne has done this kind of project,” said Julie Zellers-Frederick, Preservation Virginia’s volunteer coordinator. “We are calculating 300 work hours to make the jacket.”
The replicated garment will be based on the Falkland Jacket in the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. While the exact jacket piece is not known, the Falkland Jacket dates from the same time period and is representative of the kind of jacket Pocahontas might have worn for the occasion.
The jacket will be black embroidery on white linen, with depictions of mythical and realistic creatures, flowers, insects, fish and other animals specific to Virginia. The original Falkland Jacket is embroidered with pictures of mythical and realistic animals.
Applicants will be sent a sample swatch of fabric to complete, on which they will demonstrate the types of stitches required.
Volunteer embroiderers are invited to contact Julie Zellers-Frederick at firstname.lastname@example.org or 757-856-1259.
November 21, 2013
In the 18th century, tea was expensive — as was sugar — and reserved only for the wealthy. Afternoon tea often was served in delicate porcelain cups on a low table with additional serving pieces like tongs and saucers.
Tea time could reveal much about the lady serving the tea: her wealth, status and knowledge of etiquette. Today, you can escape a dreary day with an authentic Afternoon Royal Tea in the Goodwin Room at the Williamsburg Inn.
In addition to tea, sandwiches, scones, and French pastries will be served. The royal tea also includes a glass of champagne or sparkling cider.
Find out more about Afternoon Royal Tea at the Williamsburg Inn.
Read “Trouble Brewing” from the Colonial Williamsburg Journal.
Download “Afternoon Tea” wallpaper for your computer.
November 18, 2013
In a reconstructed town famous for 88 original 18th-century structures, the hint of the discovery of an overlooked colonial building is a powerful temptation for historians and archaeologists alike at Colonial Williamsburg.
At 524 Prince George Street, a new mystery is unfolding as architects, archaeologists, historians and one mightily curious English professor pull back the layers that time has laid over the long-forgotten Dudley Digges house.
Cloaked in years of renovations and additions and severed from its original context, the building holds tantalizing tales of a colonial structure. The historic record begins to suggest that the home — remarkable enough in its survival alone — may have been one location of the Bray School, a school for the education of black children.
Calling the school a “bright spot in what is an otherwise complicated and painful history,” The College of William & Mary’s Professor Terry Meyers details how the little Bray school might provide a tiny drop of absolution for the many sins committed during antebellum pro-slavery zeal.
September 27, 2013
We have completed our search for Tin Men to establish and lead our new historic Tin Shop, and have selected two workmen from a host of worthy candidates. We had 40 applicants for two positions in the shop, making review and selection a time-consuming process.
Ultimately, two candidates rose to the top and they are now members of the Armoury team. It was not easy to narrow the field down to two candidates from such a rich pool of applicants. Thanks to all who expressed an interest in being founding members of the program.
Steve Delisle is our Journeyman, charged with developing the first new trade in Colonial Williamsburg’s Historic Trades program in about 15 years. He has an extensive background in early American decorative arts which is enhanced by his interest in and passion for this period in history.
Steve is a native of Québec and trained as a tool and die maker in a modern manufacturing environment. As a personal interest he studied Canadian militia during the Seven Years’ War and published on this subject. This led him to Fort Ticonderoga in New York State after which he spent a number of years studying the French material culture of Fort Carillon from the archaeology, the period correspondence and colonial archives, especially the Magasins du Roy (King’s Stores). He was particularly drawn to the iron and other metalwork- materials relating to his machinist background.
Then, Steve volunteered in the Anderson blacksmith shop in a quest to understand and “read” 18th-century ironwork. In addition to his interest in hand work and early technology, he was drawn to the academic study of material culture and decorative arts, and earned an M. A. in American Material Culture from the Winterthur program and the University of Delaware — one of the premier programs of its kind. He also received a Museum Studies Certificate from the University of Delaware.
Following his graduation from the Winterthur program, Steve worked as a museum consultant to the American Revolution Center/Museum of the American Revolution in Philadelphia, where he researched and catalogued objects from the former Valley Forge Historical Society and from other private collections destined for the ARC-MAR’s soon-to-be-opened museum near Independence Hall.
But like all good tradesmen, the call of hand tools was strong enough to draw him away from the desk and back to the bench. As tradesmen, we need to do creative, productive handwork that might use, but goes beyond, the computer keyboard and draws us to that hammer, anvil, shears and file.
For the past 10 years, Steve has assembled tinsmith tools and set up a workshop pursuing an interest in historic tinplate work, and also has taken classes from established tinsmiths to learn more about the trade.
Among the skills that Steve brings to the program is the fact that French is his first language, enabling him to translate early French texts describing processes in the tin trade. This sort of technical translation can be challenging if the translator has language expertise, but lacks knowledge in historic technique. Steve brings both skill sets to the table, improving the detail and accuracy of his work as translator and as tin man.
Joel Anderson joins us from Northern New York State as our tin shop apprentice. Joel has a number of years’ experience in the museum field as well as southern roots, having worked at Walnut Grove Plantation and Middleton Place in South Carolina. In addition to his background work in historical interpretation, he has experience in shoemaking and tailoring. While these “soft “or “genteel” trades may not seem to be related to the tin work, they actually have interesting parallels. In tailoring, shoemaking and tin work, patterns are drawn and cut from a two-dimensional material and the pieces are shaped and joined into three-dimensional forms. The visualization skills and hand-and-eye coordination are much the same.
Joel refined his trade skills and interpretive experience as an artificer at Fort Ticonderoga in New York State. His responsibilities included production of clothing and shoes for the Fort’s interpretive programming. His study of original objects and attention to detail provided outstanding accessories which enhance the physical setting of the Fort.
In addition to his hand skill experience, Joel’s background includes historic military research and presentation with a particular interest in provisioning the southern army during the Revolution. This rich background in research, presentation skills, and detailed hand work already has made Joel a productive member of the site.
Join with us in welcoming these two tradesmen to our newest Historic Trade.
Contributed by Kenneth Schwarz, Blacksmith, Master of the Shop
For more information, listen to Harmony Hunter’s podcast with Steve Delisle, the first tinsmith in the Revolutionary City.
May 18, 2011
The website features a broad range of descriptive material that builds upon the rich collections of The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation and showcases the significant role played by Williamsburg in the events leading to American independence.
The American Revolution website is available online at www.ouramericanrevolution.org.