19th Century Comes Alive Through Crafts And Foods

Fast Food Gets Left Behind At Craft Series

April 03, 1991|By Jane Lippy | Jane Lippy,Contributing writer

WESTMINSTER — Just about a country mile from Westminster's bustle, the pace slows to a canter. For instance, lunch takes all morning to prepare, a far cry from grabbing a hasty Big Mac. As aromas spice the air, neighborsgather in a relaxed atmosphere to share conversation and home-cookedfood.

Learning to prepare such meals is one of several activitiesoffered through the Carroll County Farm Museum's Craft Series, a program that seeks to preserve Carroll's heritage of handcrafts from a vanishing era.

The series, started last fall, was the brainchild of Lynn Haina, assistant program director.

Students, taught by one of 50 crafts people, learn a skill, complete a project and get a sense of 19th-century farm life.

On April 6 and 13 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., classes will be conducted in candle making, open-hearth cooking and blacksmithing. A fee of $35 covers lunch and all materials.

While the hearty noon meal simmers over coals in the kitchen, Shirley Swaim, a Frederick resident, dressed in authentic Colonial-era dress, will guide students in dipping candles and molding them with decorative flowers and leaves. She has made candles since the 1960s.

In the blacksmith shop, John Landis will show students how to create black wrought iron and tin candleholders. This is his 10th year at the museum.

"It's ahobby," he said. "I occasionally sell the Colonial reproductions I've made."

A pipefitter and Gamber resident, Landis began pounding the anvil in 1966. He uses old hand tools -- a hack saw and a hammer -- and a 150-year-old bellows to fan coals on the open hearth to 3,000degrees.

"Students can see me make one," he said. "Then they willwork in pairs."

At a recent course on open-hearth cooking, students cooked a meal with Swaim. They prepared homemade fare from scratch, including country slaw with boiled dressing; sassafras tea; stewed apples and raisins; dumpling-topped chicken stew full of onions, carrots and corn; corn bread; and apple fritters.

Flavorful scents wafted from enamelware and iron pots over the open hearth wood fire. Swaim shoveled red-hot coals under black trivets, placing other pots on them to keep the contents hot.

In a course on decorative painting,students, supervised by Bonnie Hood, sanded round wooden cutting boards and applied a watermelon design on one side. Hood pointed out that in earlier times, people probably used simmered dyes from berries or blood root to make designs.

Hood showed them movable wooden toysheld together with twine, a herb wreath decorated with tiny wooden shapes and a church doll made from a man's handkerchief dipped in tea for the "olde" effect. Hood described the doll as a "quiet toy."

Natalie Jones, a student at Carroll Community College, said this was her "first class painting wood." She's done tole painting. Jones' mother, Carolyn, of Westminster, thought she'd enjoy it as well as share quality time with Natalie. Carlyn Einsel, of Hampstead, loves crafts and serves as a museum volunteer. She'd finished smoothing the cutting board and displayed several small decorative sandboxes she made.

The Westminster area craftswoman teaches night classes at Westminster High and creates original "Hood's Woods," designs on clothing, tinware and primitive country accent pieces.

In the quilting room, Kathryn Frock taught basic quilting to Pat Varney, of College Park, Prince George's County, and her daughter, Linda Beam, of Mount Airy.

They pieced together alternating blue and rose cotton squares to makea 16-block-design pillow top. Items needed included solid and print material, needle, thread, scissors, pins, pencil, paper, ruler and a piece of backing.

"This is our initial attempt," said Varney. "It sounded interesting."

From her fabric bag, Frock showed the students ideas amassed from her lifelong stitching, such as a striped patchwork vest, a pot holder and popular lap quilting technique that needsno frame -- a "take-along" project.

"What they're doing today is the same technique as for a quilt," she said.

Frock has been demonstrating her skills of chair caning, sewing and other talents at the museum since before it officially opened. To register or for more information, call Lynn Haina at 848-7775 or 876-2667.

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