Walnford Day, 2007
by Bruce Freeman, with contributions from David
Macauley and Marshall Bienstock
I got off to a late start, and met Marshall Bienstock at his shop about 7:15 AM. He'd already coupled the NJBA trailer to his Chevy truck, so we were off not long after. When we arrived at Walnford, we were flagged through by a ranger to the spot opposite the Walnford Mill, a big blue building, where David Macauley was already setting up his own portable equipment. Tom Majeski arrived soon after, so we made short work unloading the trailer and setting up "shop." This was made even faster by use of a "pop-up
tarp" that David had invested in.
Unfortunately, Sarah Bent, the ranger in charge of the event, sweet talked us into setting up in the sun, and despite her promises, the shade of the mill just didn't cut it. Fortunately, around noon it became overcast, which relived the heat considerably.
I was first to start a fire, and soon began a risky
project for outdoors - a chandelier (like the one I
wrote up for the newsletter a year or so back)
involving a basket ornament, and, hence, two welds.
Fortunately, the fire itself was shaded by the hood, which enabled me to judge color quite well. Both welds were successful, though the basket had to be tweaked into acceptable conformation. I finished a hook at the top, and bent the four branches into graceful arcs, but stopped there as the next step
would have involved threading the ends of the
Larry Brown arrived a little later. He readily showed up my meager basket by making a one-rod "basket" - spiral out from a center, then spiral in to a center and pull apart. Looks like a coil spring with a taper on each end, and is elegant far beyond what these words convey. Folks were admiring it all afternoon.
Davidís wife, Kathy, and daughter, Molly, arrived after witnessing an episode of road rage on the way (from which Kathy adroitly extricated herself, then reported). She and David discovered that
the park service provided free drinks and snacks up by the barns - a great idea. One of the head rangers
indicated that this was in direct response to
suggestions from parents. Since there are no food
vendors, the kids
will not last for a full day. Molly
was a good example. This service does not really
affect the blacksmiths, but I do think it is
indicative of a management who is trying to make the experience of visiting Walnford better.
David made 2 oak leaves that he'll be incorporating into plant stands for his wife. Marshall made some ornaments on a bar and a few nails. Tom worked on a fork. After lunch I attempted to make a toaster, like that on display in the main house in the park, but failed four different ways!
Mark (whose last name I cannot now bring to mind) did a very good job of interpreting our work and organization to the public. This sometimes doesn't seem like much, but it frees up the demonstrators to work the forge, and not be distracted by questions. It really helps quite a bit.
The park personnel let us know several times that they were appreciative of our efforts. Our thanks to those who attended. I think we provided a great show.