Crafts of the Past at Fort Nisqually

23 Apr
An artisan provides a spinning demonstration during Crafts of the Past. Photos By Russ Carmack.

An artisan provides a spinning demonstration during Crafts of the Past.
Photos By Russ Carmack.

During the next five months, guests of Fort Nisqually Living History Museum will get a close encounter with the creativity of daily life in the 1800s when the popular Crafts of the Past program returns for a third year.

Each weekend from May 3 through September 28a different artist will be “in-residence” at the Fort with displays and demonstrations of their work. Most will also offer guests the opportunity to try the craft themselves. Featured crafts include Native American basketry, metal engraving, millinery, botanical illustration, broom making, and blacksmithing.

“Many of the things people needed for daily life in the 1800s — from what they wore to the tools they used — were produced by crafts people whose work was both functional and beautiful,” said Fort Nisqually’s site manager Mike McGuire. “This is a chance to see artists in action and learn directly from them.”

What: Crafts of the Past
Where: Fort Nisqually Living History Museum, 5400 N. Pearl, in Point Defiance Park
When: Saturdays & Sundays, May 3 – September 28
Cost: Free with museum admission (admission: Free – $7)

Crafts of the Past is sponsored by the Fort Nisqually Foundation and made possible with funding from the Nisqually Indian Tribe and the Tacoma Arts Commission.

An artisan gives a woodworking demonstration during Crafts of the Past. Photo provided by Fort Nisqually Foundation.

An artisan gives a woodworking demonstration during Crafts of the Past. Photo provided by Fort Nisqually Foundation.

Artisans for May:

May 3-4 – Steve Baima follows in the tradition of the 18th and 19th century gun makers who embellished their wares with intricate metal engravings. Steve was mentored by accomplished artisans, and has been perfecting his craft through years of practice. Guests will have the opportunity to try their hand at engraving lines on soft brass. Steve is the president of the Cascade Mountain Men and the Washington Historical Gunmakers Guild.

May 10-11 – Heather Kibbey and Mickey Pederson have each been spinning, weaving, knitting, crocheting, and tatting for more than 40 years. Both Mickey and Heather are regular volunteers at Fort Nisqually Living History Museum and often mentor other volunteers. Guests will see them spin and weave, and have the opportunity to try their hand at using drop spindles or weaving on a loom. On Saturday, guests will also get to see how the whole process begins — with the sheering of sheep — thanks to a small flock of visiting sheep.

May 18 (Sunday Only) – Judy Bridges, a member of the Cowlitz Indian Tribe, is descended from five fur traders and their Native American wives. Her baskets use both traditional and modern materials. She took up basketry in the early 1990s, studying with both native and non-native teachers. She has been teaching and demonstrating basketry for more than a decade. Judy will demonstrate basketry techniques such as plaiting, twining and coiling. Guests can examine baskets under construction and handle raw materials.

May 24-25 – Victoria Anderson had her first experience with making a cyanotype photographic print as a child with a kit she got from a science store. As a college student, Victoria explored the process more deeply, learning to make her own photo-sensitive paper and fabric. Cyanotypes use ultraviolet light (e.g. sunlight) to create a photographic image, and were one of the earliest forms of photography to appear in the mid-1800s. It was quickly utilized to make images of plant specimens. Guest will have the opportunity to make their own prints of leaves, buttons, or lace. The botanical uses of this craft connect it to the current exhibit, “Dr. Tolmie, the Naturalist.”

May 31-June 1 – Alan Archambault has been creating historical illustrations for more than 50 years. Before the advent of photography, images of places and events were often created by artists. Such illustrations are an important resource for historians. Alan, a former museum director, understands their significance and has worked to keep the craft alive. Alan is also an accomplished calligrapher. Younger guests can enjoy coloring illustrations, and older guest can try their hand at illustration or calligraphy.

2014 Schedule

May 3 & 4 – Metal engraving

May 10 & 11 – “Sheep to Shawl” sheering, spinning, and weaving

May 18 – Native American basket weaving

May 24 & 25 – Cyanotype photographic prints

May 31 & June 1 – Historical illustration and calligraphy

June 7 & 8 – Native American beadwork

June 14 & 15 – Broom making

June 22 – Collecting botanical specimens

June 28 & 29 – Fingerweaving

July 5 & 6 – Blacksmithing

July 12 &13 – Botanical illustration

July 19 & 20 – Woodturning

July 26 & 27 – Banjo making

August 2 & 3 – Culinary arts – cheese making

August 9 & 10 – Punch and Judy puppetry

August 16 & 17 – Basket weaving

August 23 & 24 – Textile arts



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