Posts Tagged ‘Jamestown’

The Glass Guy

I’m not quite sure how it happens, but everywhere we go there’s “a glass guy.” Wimberley, Texas. Cape Cod, Massachusetts. And now, Jamestown, Virginia. Jamestown Glasshouse sign They started trying to make glass in Jamestown round about 1608. They imported German and Polish glass guys to try and make a go of it. Sadly, things did not go well. They tried again in 1622. And failed again.

But you know what they say, if at first you don’t succeed…skydiving is not for you. No, wait, I meant “try, try again.” So some four hundred years later, glassmaking is alive and well in Jamestown.

Jamestown glass furnace

It's hot in there. Really, really hot.


Note the orb of molten glass. That's hot, too. Like 2,350 degrees hot. Seriously.

glassblower at work When they’re finished, you end up with pieces like these:
Jamestown glasshouse

Look at all that lovely glass.

The natural color of glass is green, because sand has iron oxide or rust in it naturally. So naturally, the piece I bought was green. And gorgeous. And will appear in my next post. (I have a cunning plan. Trust me, it’ll look better there.)

So there’s my latest glass guy. Do you have a “glass guy” where you live? Do tell! I’ve discovered this latent love for handcrafted glass pieces and I’m always up for another trip. Or is there some other kind of person/activity/thing you always find on trips? Tell us about it!

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In the spirit of The $10 Challenge I thought I’d highlight some of the craftsmen I met on my recent tour d’history. These guys are actually still making things the old-fashioned way: without benefit of power tools, computers, or much of anything other than tried and true methods and a lot of ingenuity.

Take this guy:

wheelmake at forge

Talk about slaving over a hot stove...

It was really hot that day anyway and there he was beating the snot out of near-molten metal. That’s dedication.

And this guy: shoemaker He makes shoes–men’s shoes only, thank you madam, all bespoke not off the shelf–and is not a cobbler. Not even. He’s a designer and creator, not a repair shop. So there.

Over in Jamestown we met a boatbuilder–she did all the talking, he apparently did the heavy lifting. boatbuilder in Jamestown Settlement, VA

And back in Colonial Williamsburg we spent ages chatting up the joiners. Joiner, Colonial Williamsburg

master joiner, colonial williamsburg

Master of the shop.

(Poor guy, I prefer candid photos so I have the nasty habit of snapping pics when people least expect it. Hopefully he wasn’t blinded by the flash for long.)

Vikki and I being such DIY-ers, we had a ton of questions about their tools, methods, glue, and such. We know when we’re out of our league, though–there’s no way we’re attempting any of the gorgeous furniture these guys make. furniture shopOn a random note, that shop is built over this little stream. I’m sure it’s quite solid and all, but it seemed kind of insecure, somehow.

view under the shop

A lovely shady spot on a hot day

Then there was one craftsman (actually, there were two of them but they did the same thing) of the kind we always seem to find on any trip…you’ll meet them next time. Meanwhile, happy crafting!

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I like to cook—but if I had been born 200 years ago I’m not sure that would have been the case. Can you imagine trying to whip up that Church Lady Cake in one of these?

Great Hopes Plantation Kitchen

Picturesque, but...

It really takes “slaving over a hot stove” to a whole new level:
Colonial cook

It was 95 degrees that day. Note the "spice rack" on the right.

Of course, if you served under General Washington, your stove would look more like this:
Yorktown kitchen

Cooking at Yorktown

Mind you, to get to this new land, you’d have had to cross the ocean (which took weeks and weeks and….) in a wee little boat cooking in a wee little kitchen.

Below deck on the Susan Constant in Jamestown.

Once in your new settlement (in swampy, bug-infested, hotter than England ever though of being) Jamestown it’d be best to do the baking outside.
Jamestown baker
If you were lucky enough to work for President Jefferson at Monticello (we’re bouncing through time a bit here, try not to get dizzy), then you’d have an industrial model stove.
Monticello stove

Look, multiple burners!

Despite the lack of modern conveniences, cooks have always been a resourceful lot, so they managed to pull off dishes like this:
Governor's Palace kitchen Williamsburg

A feast fit for a royal governor. Kitchen at Williamsburg's Governor's Palace

Impressive, isn’t it? BTW, the cook at the Governor’s Palace told us all those “rising before dawn to start cooking breakfast” stories were malarkey—as she pointed out, “Have you ever tried to cook by candlelight?”

So the next time you find yourself standing in front of a microwave muttering, “Hurry UP, I haven’t got all minute!” take just a moment to appreciate the comforts and conveniences twenty-first century has to offer. Happy cooking!

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