Well, another Blacksmith’s Work Week has come and gone here at the Folk School. This invitation only event has been going on for a long time, and most of the major pieces of iron work to be seen on campus such as the dining hall chandeliers, the red railing, and the bell tower have been done during these weeks. This year however, was special in that we all got to witness the timber frame raising that so many have hoped for and anticipated for so many years. And what an event it was. Both the blacksmiths and the timber framers had a great time and enjoyed the company of each other’s craft.
We started the week off with the making of the 12×12″ iron post bases that will hold the big timber posts in place. There were 16 in all and each smith took one and embellished it with his or her own style, with the idea that they would be there as long as the building, so we did work that we all could be proud of. Each was beautiful, and completely different. I am proud of all of them.
As the week progressed, the framers kept coming up with reasons to incorporate iron into the frame. And, although the iron was not needed structurally, it was nice to put the two together as they contrast so well. We did all sorts of neat embellishments, and we all felt useful to the framers in our own way. Both teams really enjoyed working together, and a lot was learned by all. One of the really nice touches were the iron anvils and stumps that were forged and fabricated by Julie Clark and Ted Thompson. The anvils support the two posts in the beautiful entry bent. I thought that they looked too big on the work bench, but in place, the proportions are perfect.
We also did a lot of our usual tool making and repair of existing equipment in the Francis Whitaker shop, and did some making of new carts and fixtures for the new forge building as well. This repair and improvement has always been a large part of work week and has helped the school stay on top among the teaching facilities in the country.
My hat is off to all of the selfless effort of the blacksmiths and timber framers who made this the best work week that I can remember.