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Volume 8 - Page 4
Peter Ross at Fort Vancouver

Over the course of the two-day demonstration, Mr. Ross showed his mastery over the period techniques and materials that was instructive and engergizing for the fascinated audience. The small audience was extremely interested in (and usually knowledgeable about) period practice, artifacts, and the culture and economic imperatives that drove the smithing practice of the era.

Contrasting the economics of Colonial Williamsburg with that of the fort in the western wilderness helps to understand not only what tools and materials the early smiths had to use, but the constraints that they had to work under. Making an effort to understand the world view of smiths of the era explains many of the choices that they would make in choosing techniques and processes.

Much of the demonstrations dealt with forging wrought iron as opposed to mild steel, understanding the strengths and limitations of the material, and observing how it affected the design and production of artifacts.

Oh -- what did he make? A spatula, a set of butterfly hinges, a steel-edged drawknife, and analyzed and recreated a two-tined fork (hay fork?) from an artifact found on an archeological dig at the fort. Much more important than the things, was the wealth of thought and information that went into the why and how these things were made.

Morgan Hall
Wilsonville, Oregon

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