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The Village Blacksmith

Tuesday, March 27th, 2012
By Twistie

If you live near Williamsburg, VA or are planning a visit to the area soon, it may interest you to know that James Anderson’s Blacksmith Shop and Public Armory will have its ribbon cutting ceremony on March 31. That’s this saturday, for those of you without handy calendars.

The armory will include demonstrations of: blacksmithing, coopering/basket making, carpentry, brick making and masonry, and more.

I only wish I could be there, too.

Call For Entries: Smithsonian Craft Show

Thursday, July 14th, 2011
By Twistie

This amazing basket by Christine Adcock was shown in this year’s Smithsonian Craft Show in April. Adcock’s brilliant basketry skills won her the Best of Show award. You can see more of her work (including details of materials used) here.


Every year the Smithsonian Craft Show showcases the best of the best of American fine craft. Ceramics, glass, embroidery, beadwork, leather, woodwork, furniture, mixed media… if it’s considered a craft, it will probably be represented among the 120 artists hand-picked by a three-member committee.

That committee changes members every year and no artist is grandfathered in… not even Ms. Adcock.

What does that have to do with you? I’m so glad you asked!


Pretty in Paper

Tuesday, March 29th, 2011
By Twistie

The painting in the picture above is by Van Dyck. The costumes in the foreground are by Isabelle de Borchgrave. She has done a meticulous recreation of the outfits in the painting… and she’s done them out of paper.

de Borchgrave is a painter by training, but her passion is for textiles. Working with a group of talented costume historians and fashion designers, she has made a line of paper costumes based on famous paintings and designer masterpieces ranging from the sixteenth to the twentieth centuries. And if you have the good fortune to be in the San Francisco area, you can go see them at the Palace of the Legion of Honor in her show Pulp Fashion.

Tickets are $15.00 for adults, $12.00 for seniors (65+), $11.00 for youths 6 – 17 and college students with ID, and free for kids under 6.

But hurry! The show will be over on June 5!

What’s Up, Williamsburg?

Thursday, January 6th, 2011
By Twistie

I visited Williamsburg, VA as a child of nine. I have, sadly, never managed to get back there. Still, it remains indelibly etched on my memory. It was the first place I ever went where living history was practiced, including crafts of the period. I was entranced. Funnily enough, my single strongest memory of the time I spent there (probably two or three days, all told) is of a silversmith with an amazingly long pinkie fingernail. I was in awe of that nail. I think of it every time I clip mine.


When not fetishizing fingernails, I was quite taken with the clothing, the way the cooking was done, and dozens of other everyday details of life in the eighteenth century. My brother the medieval historian was somewhat obsessed with the stocks and pillories while my brother the alpaca rancher would tell explain to everyone in great detail how, for instance, paper was marbled or glass was blown. He has an analytical mind and a passion for detail. He would watch a single artisan for a couple hours and then move on to the next one that caught his eye.

It’s those details of everyday life – and particularly everyday dress – that continue to captivate me. So imagine my delight when I went by the official website today and found that the DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum has just announced an exhibit of costume accessories dating up to 1840!

If you check out the video here, you’ll get to see glimpses of all manner of fabulous goodies of the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries: handkerchiefs, jewelry, leather pocketbooks, hats, gloves, stockings, and even ladies’ pockets (in the eighteenth century, women wore separate pockets under their skirts to carry things like purses and hankies). Whatever your crafting interest, you’re sure to see something to admire or inspire.

And if you get the chance to go and see the show, please tell me all about it.

Disclaimer: Manolo the Shoeblogger is not Manolo Blahnik
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