Friday, December 20, 2013

Traditional Arts Workshops at Willowbrook for January, February, and March 2014

These make great gifts for everyone.

 All classes are limited in size. Reserve your place now. , Our blog:
CALL: 207-793-2784 or EMAIL:

Friday, January 17, 9AM-5PM Metal Casting Class in Brass/Bronze. Furnaces, fuels, molds and metals. Students will complete one or two castings. Non-Members$275 Members $265 Materials included.

Sat., Jan. 18, 2014, 9-1PM. Woodworking, Mortise and Tenon Construction, Make a Buck Saw. Beginners will make a half size buck saw out of maple wood using mortise and tenon joinery. A turnbuckle will be created. $65 Non Members, $55 Members. All materials provided. Adults and teens.

Sat. & Sun., Jan. 25 & 26, 9AM-5PM. Woodworking, Dovetailing, Make a Blanket Chest Class on Learn to make dovetail joints using traditional hand tools. Prepare all the components for a traditional six board chest with a hinged top. Non Members: $275, Members $265

Sat., Feb 1, 9-4PM. Blacksmithing: Make Hardware. Learn basic metal work with a propane forge. The project may consist of makin hinges, latches, a set of handles, a door knocker or coat hook. Tuition: Non Members $125 Members $115.

Sat. & Sun., Feb. 15 &16, 9-3PM. Metal Casting Class: Make Your Own Metal Casting Furnace. Create a cylinder furnace fueled by propane for aluminum, brass, and bronze casting. Tuition: Non-Members $175 Members $165

Sat. & Sun., March 1 &2. Blacksmithing: Make a Draw Knife and/or Slicks. Shape a blade with spring steel on a coal or propane forge. Form tangs to fit wooden handles to. This will be offered as a package deal or singularly with the Create a Shaving Horse Class (20 % discount).  Intermediate students can make a froe involving a forge weld.
Sat. & Sun., March 8 &9. Woodworking: Create a Shaving Horse Class. With master woodworker Fred Chellis of Little River Windsor Chairs students will learn riving, an early woodworking technique in which a froe, wedges and a maul may be used to split a big log into workable lumber. The wood will be further shaped and fitted with a shaving knife and other tools. Tuition: Non Members $275, Members $265

Working Telephones at Willowbrook

The Telephone Museum of Ellsworth, Maine has been working on a project with Willowbrook in the last few months. As you might recall there is a phone like this that is on the wall in the kitchen of the Dr. Isaac Trafton House. It has always been a static exhibit of the object. During the summer Marlene Gerry ran telephone wire from this phone to the ice cream parlor where a long term loaned phone of similar design will be mounted on the wall. Both kids and adults will be able to communicate between the two phones. There will be information and interactive play/learning with this device. We may do another set up somewhere else on the campus in the future. Our phone is in the process of being brought to Bucksport where Dave Thompson of the Telephone Museum will work from the comfort of his home to re-wire the phone to make it operable; he has gotten a donation of an intact authentic cloth jacketed wire to go to the ear piece as ours' is badly frayed. Look forward to this new offering in May. In addition, if anyone has a similar phone or a phone of similar vintage, i.e., 1900-1920s, that they would be interested in donating to the museum for other such working collection scenarios please contact: director@willowbrookmuseum. We are also looking for hand crank dynamos aplenty for a student workshop.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Classes in Restoration?

Learn by seeing, learn by doing; this has become the mantra of Willowbrook as we increasingly develop our traditional arts workshops. For a good part of Willowbrook's history there has been an opportunity to see the technology available to those living in rural Maine and New England in the nineteenth and early 20th century, but this alone is not enough. There is so much more to share that will have even greater impact on our visitors.  The museum in recent years has chosen a new path that allows opportunities to both see and use. Hands on experiences with a working collection has gotten some people excited about the museum and looking forward to new offerings of workshops in addition to the baking, penny rugging, blacksmithing, woodworking, and other classes that were offered in the last few seasons for tuition. More recntly, the museum has offered more complex project-based workshops.

This is a radical departure from current formal and informal educational trends that increasingly focus on virtual experiences as a basis for knowledge; we hope to deliver more hands-on experiences that might include something as simple as creating a tool to solve a problem; what ramifications would such an  experience at Willowbrook have for a 13 year old?  or someone of any age? How might such accomplishments serve in developing greater problem solving skills for a new generation of Willowbrook visitors? We seek to be an essential part of local education rather than merely enrichment or a one-time field trip. Check for our upcoming list of workshops for January, February, and March? We are particularly keen on connecting with home-schoolers and public school kids alike; we have recently offered workshops in woodworking and blacksmithing to eighth graders! A class in mortise and tenon wood construction is offered on Saturday, January 18, 9-1PM.

Making a Tool to Disassemble a Golding Jobber Printing Press ( Circa 1902 )  

One of our future offerings will be letterpress printing classes. In order to undertake this it's been necessary to acquire more equipment for the purpose. This press (see below) will be on long term loan to the museum; it is a Golding "Jobber", the big brother of the museum's own Golding "Pearl". It is currently up in Penobscot Co. where it was disassembled ( it weighs 1100 lbs. complete) in the last few days for the purpose of transport to the museum. In taking this machine apart some tools had to be fabricated, as they are not readily available.

Below you will see a flywheel puller designed, created (out of scrap metal), and used successfully for  today's task of dis-assembly; the press will be overhauled for use in the months to come. Learn by seeing ---a few years back, I saw a wonderful homemade gear puller made by a Mainer that inspired this adaptation to the purpose of pulling a 100 pound plus flywheel from a steel shaft. Learn by doing ( of course, a drill press, angle grinder, and a box of wrenches helped )--- results in the type of Yankee ingenuity that characterized our rural heritage. Orchestrating experiences like this would be a wonderful thing to facilitate at the museum.

In moving forward with many new projects, exhibitions, and workshops, there is always the matter of making 100 plus year old machines functional again for the purpose using them and learning from them. This isn't necessarily a burden, if we consider that presenting the science and technology of another age might be better done by involving the public in the process of restoration and operation of machines like a Model T engine or a horse drawn panel wagon; what often isn't learned is how these things worked; this was certainly knowledge held by our forefathers. And certainly this knowledge can have applications to 21st century challenges like we could never imagine.

In discussing workshops for the future, we are currently planning to offer two workshops based on these assumptions. The workshops will involve restoring a Model T engine and re-wooding, with some blacksmithing necessitated as well, a horse drawn grocery wagon. Students will pay a nominal fee to support the cost of materials and the instructor's time. The students will be given mini-lessons to carry out the individual steps of these restorations. The class will last one season with a weekly meeting planned. Students will learn about tools and materials; they will complete the class knowing that they have contributed to the restoration of this museum object, and that its functionality will continue to both impress and educate. The student of these classes will become knowledgeable of this technology. They will be prepared to replicate this process for themselves and for others.

Is anyone interested in being a member of one or both of these workshops (Contact: or 207-793-2784)?

1. Model T Engine Restoration Class

2. Country Store Panel Wagon Restoration Class

Tuition Costs and schedule to be determined.

Today's Fabrication of a Flywheel Puller for the Disassembly of a Golding Jobber Printing Press ( c.1902)

This was essentially made out of scrap metal. It was plate steel, threaded rod, and nuts. I actually cut and drilled many of my "washers" as I wanted something more chunky than conventional washers; I didn't want to waste time trekking to Lowes. It resulted in less turns of the wrench, as there was less threads to turn the nut on given the threading consumed by the chunky homemade washers ( a homage to the late Donald Bowden of Goodale's Corner, whose work making similar things has been my experience through his  fabrications that survive ).

This view best shows the concept. A plate in the back that wraps around the shaft and grabs at the very center of the back of the flywheel. The plate in the front is on top of the shaft. By turning the nuts on the four threaded rods the flywheel is pulled forward on the shaft; something that couldn't be done by hand as there is a key that was driven in to wedge the flywheel tightly into the shaft. This key remains in its bedding when the flywheel is pulled.

This is a view of the puller from the back of the flywheel.

Here you can see how the front plate is pressed down onto the shaft causing the forward motion of the flywheel.

The press shed of considerable weight for transport.

The removed flywheel; it weights nearly a hundred pounds.

The flywheel puller.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

What's Happening at Willowbrook in December and January?

There have been many developments at 19th Century Willowbrook Village in recent months. The museum received the long term loan of a theatrical/ musical set from art directors Mary and Mike Kenny of South Burlington, VT. This 1912 re-creation of the Titanic radio room will be set up for interactive play/learning for both school groups and visitors. An additional workshop in making a crystal set will be offered to children 8-11 years old, and older, in conjunction with this offering.
Another recent development was the completion of a steel-reinforced concrete slab for the Tom Flagg smithy (1935).  The smithy will be re-assembled on this slab. Two brick chimneys will also be built to vent two forges that were donated for this project. This addition to Willowbrook is for the purpose of providing ongoing blacksmithing classes for a maximum of eight students inside.

We are now taking reservations for the following traditional arts classes (these make great holiday gifts): Saturday and Sunday, December 14 & 15, 9AM-4PM, Woodworking 102: A Class in Dovetail Joint Construction. Make an Heirloom Blanket Chest. Two days, fourteen hours, you will create a pine wood chest roughly measuring 36 inches wide, 24 inches tall, and 18 inches deep.  All tools and materials supplied. Tuition: Non-members $300; Members $270.

The museum also offers a Blacksmithing/ Blade-Smithing Class. Saturday and Sunday, December 21 & 22, 9AM-4PM. This blacksmithing studio class for beginners offers the choice of creating hardware, tomahawk and/or hunting knife. Students have the opportunity to make and fit a wooden handle to their projects using a shaving horse. Tuition: Non-members $300; Members $270

On Friday, January 19, 9AM-5PM, a Metal Casting Class in Brass is offered. Students will learn the basics of sand casting. A variety of molds to choose from for your project(s). Students who took the woodworking class may make hardware for their blanket chest, Door knockers and strike plates possible as well as other objects. Tuition: Non-members $225 Members

Stay tuned for other classes!   
See details for these classes on our website:, our Facebook, or our blog: Call or email us; 207-793-2784 or