Monday, March 12, 2012

Departing for SMELTFEST 2012

As part of the overall project grant, I had included funding for my annual participation in SMELTFEST.
This event is hosted by Lee Sauder, at his workshop outside of Lexington Virginia. This is an invitational research / workshop session that includes many of the primary members of the North American 'Early Iron' movement every year. Past investigations have developed many of the standard methods used for practical bloomery iron furnaces.

Investigating the Aristotle Furnace, Smeltfest 2009
(L-R: Shelton Browder, Lee Sauder, Dick Sargent, Skip Williams, Steve Mankowski)

March 16 through March 19 - Smeltfest 2012
This is a bit shorter than in past years. With the support of the OAC grant, I have added some additional research stops on to the travel back and forth from Wareham to Lexington:

March 15 - National Cathedral, Washington DC
The National Cathedral has commissioned a number of significant pieces by artisan blacksmiths over the decades. There are pieces by Yellen, Pailey and others. Seeing these works by the very best North American artisan smiths has long been on my list.

March 21 & 22 - Colonial Williamsburg and Jameston Settlement VA
Most specifically I intend to visit the
DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum and the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum. It is some years since I have viewed either collection, and I am most interested in looking at their antique ironwork with more experienced eyes.
Jamestown itself is where the second attempt at smelting iron was undertaken in North America (*). In our last visit to the site (2008), we helped archaeologists there assess their current excavations of the bloomery furnaces. It will be interesting to see how the program has developed since then.

March 24 - Corning Glass Museum NY
As we swing back north, its only a short detour to take in this facility, which I have wanted to visit for years. Another research project I have been working on is Viking Age glass bead production methods. I hope to spend at least some time in the library there. More directed to the Bloom To Bar project, I have several concept designs to combine hand blown glass with bloomery iron. An overview of the possibilities of contemporary art glass will be helpful for imagining those pieces.

I expect to be able to maintain internet access throughout the trip. With luck I should be able to maintain the flow of blog posts here, with some highlights of my discoveries illustrated.

* The first processing of iron ore in North America was of course by the Norse at Vinland - L'Anse aux Meadows NHSC.

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February 15 - May 15, 2012 : Supported by a Crafts Projects - Creation and Development Grant

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