Ever wondered how to engrave brass, make a cyanotype print or spin freshly-sheared wool? You’ll get your chance at Fort Nisqually over the next five months, as the living history museum at Tacoma’s Point Defiance Park brings back its Crafts of the Past program for the third year.
Every weekend from May 3 through September 28 a different artist will be in residence demonstrating a craft or art from the 1800s, the period when the Hudson’s Bay Company had an outpost at the now-restored historical site. Crafts include Native American basketry, metal engraving, millinery, botanical illustration, broom making, and blacksmithing. Visitors can also try many of the crafts for themselves, beginning with this weekend, when metal engraver Steve Baima shows how gun makers embellished their weapons with intricate metal engravings.
“Many of the things people needed for daily life in the 1800s — from what they wore to the tools they used — were produced by crafts people whose work was both functional and beautiful,” said Fort Nisqually’s site manager Mike McGuire in a press release. “This is a chance to see artists in action and learn directly from them.”
May 10 and 11 sees Heather Kibbey and Mickey Pederson spinning and weaving wool, while a flock of visiting sheep gets shorn (Saturday only). On May 18, Cowlitz tribal member Judy Bridges demonstrates basketry techniques like plaiting, twining and coiling; on May 24-25 photographer Victoria Anderson explains how to make a cyanotype print using sunlight on photo-sensitive paper; while on May 31-June 1 Alan Archambault demonstrates the art of historical illustration and calligraphy.
Fort Nisqually Living History Museum is a restoration of the Hudson’s Bay Company outpost on Puget Sound, with nine buildings showing how life was lived in Washington Territory during the 1850s. It’s open 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Wednesday-Sunday through May 26 then daily through summer. Admission: $5 adult/$4 youth through May 23; then $7 adult/$6 senior, military/$5 student/$4 youth/free for under-5.
For the complete artist schedule, see fortnisqually.org.