May is always a magic month. It takes us from muddy April to summertime. This year was no exception. We had an actual spring. After a week of steady rain, the leaves appeared and lilacs were in full bloom.
This year I had the opportunity to teach at Haystack, a magic place full of creative people. There were wonderful projects made, and after hours I had a chance to visit other studios. My favorite was the blacksmith shop. First, it was warm there (it gets chilly on the Maine coast in May), second, several folks brought scotch and beer, but most fascinating was the work being done. Dereck Glaser, http://www.dereckglaser.com/, the instructor showed us how to forge-weld: taking two rods, heating the ends, making a curve, then a loop, forging them together, then taking the two rod ends and sliding them through the loops to make a figure “8”, flattening them and riveting them together. I discovered a whole new craft. Amazing, astounding, and fascinating. If it didn’t require so many new tools and a new shop, I’d try my hand a blacksmithing.
The following Monday and Tuesday several of us stayed to get the wood shop organized, tuning machines, sharpening tools, and building small project for the rest of the campus. It’s always a fun and rewarding experience. The food and scenery are enough to keep us coming back year after year.
May is also the time for Shaker Work weekend. the Friends of the Shakers get together for a Saturday before the museum opens to weed, cut lawns, install screens, move furniture, cut brush and trees, paint and generally get the Sabbathday Lake community ready for the summer season. It’s a chance to help out, to re-connect with folks we see but once or twice a year, and indulge in a wonderful noon day meal with the Shakers and Friends. This year three of us spent the better part of a morning cutting and trimming a partially fallen Mulberry tree covered with Virginia creeper and raspberry canes. Hot, sweaty work, but the corner behind the library near the orchard looks much neater and cleaner.
Speaking of the Shakers, the Friends are organizing an Anniversary Campaign (230 years since the founding of the Sabbathday lake community, 130 years since the founding of the Shaker library, 240 years since the arrival of Shakers in America, and the 75th anniversary of Sr. Frances Carr) to raise funds for the library. The document vault will be enlarged and updated, with more storage space, with additional expenditures for conservation projects. I am contributing a Shaker cherry round stand to be raffled off to raise funds. Stay tuned for more information and details.
In the shop, I’m working on a Shaker Butler’s desk: the top drawer pulls out, and the front folds down to expose four small drawers and 3 pigeon holes. The brass quadrant stays were a real challenge to install, as were the hinges and caches. Neither the maker of the hardware, the internet or any of my books gave any vital details. So this will be a perfect subject for an upcoming Fine Woodworking article.
C. H. Becksvoort © 2013