Crafts made from the heart will no longer be lost art Farm museum to teach workshops on taffy, Valentine cards

February 02, 1996|By Ellie Baublitz | Ellie Baublitz,CONTRIBUTING WRITER

More than 100 years ago, when Carroll County Farm Museum was a working farm, families baked bread on an open hearth, spun their own wool and knitted their own sweaters.

For holidays, the children and adults would create their own decorations and clothing accessories. The family would even make its own furniture.

Most of those homemade arts have long since disappeared with the Age of Technology.

But at the farm museum, such "forgotten arts" are being revived through a series of workshops designed to teach people how to make old-fashioned taffy, scrap-art Valentine and Easter cards, hats, lace, bandboxes and rush-seat weaving.

"Our goal is to get skilled apprentices to do these forgotten arts at a Forgotten Arts Festival in August, celebrating the farm museum's 30th anniversary," said Dottie Freeman, the museum's administrator.

"The workshops provide some winter entertainment and educational programs about the past," she said. "Last fall, we held the workshops for people to make Victorian Christmas decorations that added an old-fashioned charm to the farmhouse."

Three workshops tomorrow will open the new series. Participants can learn how to make taffy on an old-fashioned cook stove from 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m., make a scrap-art Valentine from 10 a.m. to noon or 1 p.m. to 3 p.m., or learn basic knitting from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.

"Taffy is something sweet for Valentine's Day, and that's old-fashioned -- like the taffy pulls," Ms. Freeman said. "I've never done it, but people have told me it's really fun."

To make taffy the way they did a century ago, the farm museum has moved a wood cook stove into the summer kitchen for the workshop, she said.

In the card workshop, each participant will produce a lace and ribbon Valentine that "has more meaning and gives so much more of yourself" than a store-bought card, Ms. Freeman said.

A fee for the workshops covers the cost of materials and staff. The taffy workshop is $15, the card is $12 and knitting is $30. Registration is required.

Other workshops planned for spring include: tatting, a form of lace work, March 20, $25; millinery, March 23, $35; scrap art Easter cards, March 23, $12; scratch eggs, March 23, $30; bandboxes, March 26, $25; and rush seat weaving, March 26, $20.

"Our goal is to have some participants come back as volunteer instructors and interpreters for the festival," Ms. Freeman said. "We want people to come and be a part of the celebration."

The Forgotten Arts Festival fits with the farm museum's purpose -- to educate people about the rural lifestyle of the 1800s. The facility's buildings, exhibits and events, such as the Fall Harvest Festival, focus on life as it was in the last half of the 19th century.

Under the direction of Kate VanHossen, the farm museum's program department is offering a number of workshops at the same time to give people a choice of programs.

"Of course, most of our workshops were necessities back then," Ms. Freeman said. "If they needed something knitted, they had to knit it themselves."

Other workshops are being planned for wood carving, blacksmithing and quilting.

Ms. Freeman said suggestions from the community for "forgotten arts" workshops are welcome.

For information about the Forgotten Arts programs, call the farm museum at 848-7775.

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