Monday, February 6, 2012

Shoemaking Workshop - Part 1, The Location

I've talked a little bit about my shoemaking experience and will be sharing more soon. But before I go into any details about the workshop itself, I thought I would first share a little bit about the location where the shoemaking workshop was held. 

Last August, Mr. Walker, a shoemaker at Colonial Williamsburg, held a week-long shoemaking workshop at Eastfield Village near Nassau, New York. Eastfield Village is the creation of Don Carpentier. Similar to places like Old SturbridgeVillage in Massachusetts, Eastfield Village is a collection of historic homes and outbuildings that date from the late 18th century to about 1840.
“Eastfield is the creation and life work of Don Carpentier, who has been collecting and reconstructing the stuff of everyday life between 1787 and 1840 since 1958. The village is called Eastfield because Don's father gave him eight acres of woodlot near the east field of the family farm in 1971 for the first of his reconstructions: a blacksmith's shop (somebody's pigpen before Don dismantled and hauled it here). There are now more that 20 buildings, including the whale of a tavern.” - From the Eastfield Village website
Brown General Store moved from Minaville, NY,
Each of the buildings are furnished with an amazing collection of antique and reproduction furniture, cooking ware, tools, books, and much more! The village has a fully functional blacksmiths shop, tinsmiths shop, and general store. I spent part of one afternoon exploring a few of the buildings. I didn’t get to go into the general store but did peak through the window!


Eastfield Village is privately owned by Mr. Carpentier and it is normally not open to the public. However, a series of different workshops are held on site each year for those interested in learning historic trades and historic preservation techniques. 
 Here’s a look at the workshops that were offered in 2011

Interior of the Old Tavern
There were nine people at the shoemaking workshop in August but not everyone was able to stay for the full week. Most of us stayed did on site. Our home for the week was the spacious William Briggs Tavern. All of our meals were prepared in the tavern’s kitchen over the fire. There was a large soapstone sink with running water (cold only!) for washing dishes. There was very limited electricity in the building; only a few outlets in one or two rooms and no electric lights. The first night I was there we had a major thunder storm roll through. Mr. Carpentier came into the tavern to get some extra candles and told us the power had gone out. None of us had noticed. We were sitting snug by the fire with a few candles for light enjoying good conversations! 
William Briggs Tavern, my home for the week!
Interior of William Briggs Tavern
Our workshop space was in the ballroom of the William Briggs Tavern. The ballroom was large enough that each attendee had his or her own work space. We had several tables set up and plenty of natural light to work by. During the week, Mr. Walker, who in addition to making shoes for Colonial Williamsburg also teaches one of their weekly dance programs, taught us a few 18th century country dances.
Ballroom inside William Briggs Tavern
Over all it was a wonderful week. Filled with good food, great company, and many wonderful memories! I hope very much to be able to work with everyone again at some point in the future. 
No beer in the kitchen and do dogs in bed!!

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