Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Mystic Seaport

The amazing thing about Mystic Seaport is that artisans are handcrafting parts the same way they were made several hundred years ago. This tourist mecca is layed out like a small port town. In each of the old seaport buildings different craftspeople demonstrate their craft. Docked in port is the Amistadt which is a replica of a famous slave trading ship. This boat was built from scratch in the shipyard. Construction of the boat took two years. Any of the iron parts would have been formed and shaped in the blacksmith's shop. Bill Scheer is the master blacksmith and Parker Cronin is his apprentice. Parker worked diligently while Bill explained the blacksmith's art to tourists.
Bill explained that the temperature of the metal is important. He said the metal's temperature is measured by judging its color. White is the hottest then yellow, orange, red, crimson and azure. There seem to be many subtle grades of red. A tourist pointed out that he was colorblind and thus he would make a rotten blacksmith. One child kept asking questions and Bill told her that if she wanted to get the feel of what it is like to work with hot metal, she should practice by hammering clay. Bill started to demonstrate how to hammer a perfect cylinder. He started by hammering the metal till it had four sides then he hammered it till it had eight sides then sixteen then thirty two. It turns out hammering a cylinder is quite a challenge. The mother asked Bill about lessons and he explained that private lessons were available. Parker had started taking lessons when he was just fourteen years old. The implements in the foreground of the sketch are harpoons. Several of the boats in the port were once whaling ships. I felt right at home sketching in this workshop. Bill joked with me that I should get a camera. I said, cameras were just a fad. Why would people want to make pictures with a machine, when it is much more rewarding to fully experience a place by taking the time to do a sketch?

Prints are available for each sketch for $250 and many originals can be purchased for $400. White museum grade shadow box frames are $100 more. You can e-mail Thor at analogartistdigitalworld@gmail.com

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