NJBA Meet at Cold Spring Village
June 30th 2007

Cold Spring Village
Sunday at Cold Spring Village
by Bruce Freeman

Having skipped the first day of this two-day affair, Andy Vida and I arrived Sunday, only an hour late. It was a beautiful summer day, cool and dry with a gentle breeze. I'm not sure what the event was at CSV that day, but it involved kids picking up a "Past Port" at the printers and getting it stamped at each of the several crafts centers (by participating in some way in the crafts), the reward at the end of all of which was an ice cream at the ice cream shop.

Three forges were set up, and David Macauley and Josh were already hard at it. Since there was only one forge free, I gallantly deferred to Andy, who had hooks and tie-backs to make for the house in West Virginia, and proceeded to direct the proceedings from my chair in the shade. (Yet so foul is human character that for this act of gallantry I had to endure the most insidious vituperation and character assassination from the very person most benefiting from my largesse. Naturally I gave as good as I got.)

I took advantage of my relative freedom to wander the village a bit. I noticed that one of the crafters, a young lady set up to marbleize paper, was having a bit of trouble because her table was not level. Since her apparatus consisted largely of a low wooden "tank" containing carageenan-thickened water, this meant the much of the fluid was on one side of the tank, and the other side was high and dry. I soon corrected this by shimming the low side with a few pieces of wood from our kindling supply. I was duly rewarded with a demonstration of paper marbleizing - which seems much simpler than I ever expected.

I also had a chance to observe the comely basket weaver, Patty, at work at her art. She was weaving wooden splints with the greatest of ease into attractive baskets. The trick, of course, is that the splints have to be thoroughly soaked. Although working with store-bought materials, she was quite knowledgeable of the craft, and we discussed things I'd only read about, such as pounding of black ash logs to break off the annual layers which then can be cut into such splints.

Josh, whom I mentioned above, is apprentice to Jerry Goldman, blacksmith of CSV. Under David's guidance, he was working on a scorp. At this stage in its progress, it looked to be a drawknife, which, in a sense, is what it was. But a drawknife remains flat, whereas a scorp ultimately is bent into a partial circle (with axis parallel to the direction of cut). Josh had about two days' effort in this thing already, having had a few problems along the way, but before the day was out the scorp was essentially finished.

David started work on a courting candle, for which he is infamous. I think he failed to finish this piece, however, because a sweet young thing named Nicole stopped by for blacksmithing lessons. Although we took her to be about 16, Nicole turned out to be none other than Josh's older sister, age 22. Despite sandals and summer attire, Nicole completed her first wall hook, with a little help from David, without burning herself.

For my part, I decided to see what I could do with a railroad spike, of which we had plenty due to David's association with the New Jersey Museum of Transportation. I didn't have a clear idea what I was going to do with this spike, but I did decide I needed to isolate the head from the shank by fullering. This was an obstacle because there was no guillotine tool or spring fuller available, and my hand-and-eye coordination is too abysmal to accomplish top-and-bottom fullering without such a tool.

So I made a spring fuller. After an abortive attempt with 3/8" round stock, which was terminated in the spirit of the 4th of July - namely, a couple of sparklers - I started with 2' or 2.5' of half-inch square stock. First I flattened a small portion of what was to become the spring, isolating it 5"-6" from the end by means of half-face blows. Then I worked on the far end (fated to become the upper fuller "jaw," rounding this off to roughly half-inch round. Then I worked down the piece spreading 12" to 1" x 3/16" as the spring portion. Beyond this I spread about 7" of the stock to 7/8" x 1/4". The last 5"-6" I rounded up. Then I folded the 7" segment in the middle and fit it to the hardy hole. Over a few heats, I brought the adjacent round section flat onto the anvil as the lower "jaw" of the spring fuller. Finally, I bent the spring section into about 3/4 of a circle of 4" diameter, bending the upper "jaw" 90 degrees from the descending arc. The resulting fuller, now amongst the tools on the NJBA trailer, performed very well, but I ran out of time before I could make much further progress on the railroad spike.