Colonial Williamsburg


On our free afternoon, several symposium attendees made their way to the wheelwrights’ shop to meet the artisans and see what they were up to.

On this day — and for quite a number of days lately — they were splitting white-oak logs for spokes. Several big trees had come down on Williamsburg-owned land during a recent hurricane, and the wheelwrights were the lucky recipients of this unexpected bounty. There are so many logs that they will apparently have enough split wood to last through several years’ worth of spokes.

They explained to us that they use white oak for spokes and ash (from the center of the logs) for hubs. Once split, each piece of wood has to dry for one year per inch of thickness, so a twelve-inch chunk of ash must dry for an astonishing twelve years before it can be made into a hub.

In the lean-to next to the wheelwrights’ workshop is the blacksmith’s shop, and we were able to peek in there as well.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

Yesterday morning featured several fascinating lectures, which I’ve summarized on Twitter (here).

During the morning’s breaks, everyone gathered for snacks and drinks and another stroll through the trade fair.

.

Bowman Leather (Dan and his son Jacob) have a display of their lovely harness, and these handmade bits

.

Louise Ellis makes beautiful jewelry from antique buttons, bridle rosettes, and poker / game pieces ... and braided horsehair (shown here)

.

After the morning’s final lecture, we all had a free afternoon to visit the Colonial Williamsburg stables and the Historic Area and its trade shops.

.

On my walk to the stables, I passed these 18th-c. men playing a game of horseshoes

.

this Landau was built by Colonial Williamsburg in 1960; it was used (driven by Richard Nicoll) for HM The Queen's visit to Williamsburg in 2007

.

this Demi-Landau was probably built in Philadelphia sometime between 1818 and 1840; it can be driven by a coachman or, with the coachman's seat removed, by a postilion

.

... a close-up of the Demi-Landau

.

the Riding Chair was basically just that: a chair on wheels

.

in the harness room, I met this sweetie, who was lying on top of a bucket full of towels

.

detail of a driving bridle in the harness room; I assume these bridles go with the Landau above, as the squirrel on the panels (below) is repeated here on the blinkers

.

the Landau's squirrel

.

in the aisleway of the stables was a display with information on Colonial Williamsburg's important rare-breeds program, including a live appearance by this, and one other, Leicester Longwool sheep, and several rare breeds of chickens

.

After leaving the stables, I walked through town to the wheelwrights’ shop. I’ll post photos from that visit tomorrow.

As a blog wrap-up of the just-concluded symposium … a few photos of various interiors over the weekend.

First, since the wheelwrights were mixing paint during our “museum” time on Saturday afternoon, a few still-life images from inside their shop, all related to the paint project:

.

Next, the parlor of Colonial Williamsburg’s newly reconstructed Charlton’s Coffee House. This lovely building is near the entrance to the Capitol, and many of Williamsburg’s leaders and politicians gathered here to drink coffee or chocolate, to play cards or dice, and to discuss politics, news, and the hated Stamp Act. I was the only one on my “tour” of the building on snowy Saturday afternoon, and my tour guide asked if I wanted the “decorative arts tour” or the “whole nine yards.” In retrospect, I suppose I should’ve asked what the whole nine yards entailed … but it was fun, although completely unexpected. We started in the parlor with a first-person history lesson, went through a back hallway, and ended up in the coffee-house portion of the building. I was offered a seat at one of the tables and a taste of either coffee or drinking chocolate (I chose the chocolate, of course, which was delicious). Also at my table were two very chatty eighteenth-century characters … one a politician and the other full of questions and funny stories. I highly recommend this interactive (and educational) building tour.

.

.

And, finally, a few views of the trade fair at the symposium. If you weren’t able to join us this year, here’s a tiny bit of what you missed:

.

one of the several trade-fair booths offering antiques, books, and beautiful old prints

one-of-a-kind handmade hats

for those who didn’t want to venture out into Saturday afternoon’s snowstorm, Beth Schaffer offered an impromptu talk on wickerwork

Yesterday was our final day of this second CAA/CWF International Carriage Symposium. There were three fascinating lectures in the morning, and then a free afternoon before the evening’s banquet.

One of the lectures dealt with freight and stage wagons in southern California. The photos were amazing, and the descriptions of the ventures, including one hair-raising account of a galloping, sliding run up one side of a mountain pass and down the other, left everyone in awe. I was particularly intrigued, as my great-grandfather moved to the same area under discussion sometime around 1900 and some of my relatives may have seen the actual images pictured in these photos.

In the afternoon, I ventured out into the snowstorm and witnessed more people (mostly William & Mary students, I think) out walking in the village. I was surprised there wasn’t more snowball-throwing and snowman-building, but perhaps that will take place today, now that the snow has stopped falling and the wind died down. As I write this, the sun is coming up on Sunday morning, the snow is glistening just a bit, and it promises to be a beautiful day.

Some photos from Saturday …

the wheelwright’s apprentice mixing paint: equal parts pigment, chalk, and linseed oil

the journeyman wheelwright (Paul, on the left) and the shop’s apprentice (Andy, on the right) working in the shop on a snowy day; Paul is finishing the wheel that received its tire on Wednesday, and Andy continues to mix paint

a Williamsburg doorway with snow piled up on the front steps

a snowy tree over the sidewalk on Duke of Gloucester street

the Capitol in the snow

Be sure to read the full report on the symposium in the March issue of The Carriage Journal, and to join us here in 2012.

We have snow! It looks like there’s barely an inch right now (breakfast time), but it is still snowing.

Yesterday’s talks took us from the U.S. (“Abbot-Downing and the Concord Coach”) to Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, and Japan (“Coaching Down Under: Freeman Cobb and His Legacy”) and back to Europe (“French Elegance Along the Baltic” and “The Princes of Thurn and Taxis”). The final talk focused on “Outward Show: The Turnout as a Means of Communication.”

Because of the then-impending storm, the stables opened up for symposium attendees yesterday afternoon (in addition to the scheduled time this afternoon). A few photos of our visit:

the back of one of Williamsburg’s traveling chariots, in the aisleway of the stables

three carriages (two “normal” sized and one very small) in the storage end of the stables

another one of Williamsburg’s coaches

new wheels

buckles on one of Williamsburg’s newer coaches; if I recall correctly, these were made here in the Historic Area at the Geddy Foundry

One quick announcement: the third CAA/CWF International Carriage Symposium will be held January 11 to 15, 2012. Mark your calendars!

« Previous PageNext Page »