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Traditions Workshop - home of craftsmen

I guess for the first blog post of Traditions Workshop I should let you know what I'll be writing about.

Traditions Workshop is a family business. Collectively we are called craftsmen; look, if I (David) can be "a bride of Christ", then my wife (Anna) can be one of the "craftsmen". Anyway, you can read about our individual skills on our about page, so I guess I don't need to repeat myself by telling you who we are.

If you are familiar with our projects and services pages you will note that as restorers, we have a lot of skills and experiences. It is the nature of our work that drives our plethora of trade skills.

You see, the men and women that made the original products that we restore today were, in some cases, alive over a century ago. They came from a time when a tradesman was expected to be multi-talented. For example, on a Swedish farm, which could be snowed in for months at a time, it was not unusual for the extended family to prepare for the winter by cutting firewood and sawing lumber after the harvest. Then as winter set in and preparations were made for Christmas there were lots of gifts to be made in the workshop; some in glass, some copper, some casting. Did you know that as late as 1960 it was not unusual for a boy to receive a casting set to make his own "tin" solders in the kitchen? After the New Year the dining room would be converted to the weaving area for turning flax into linen cloth and the workshop might start making furniture. Time would be set aside to work leather into boots, belts, harnesses and other gear. The smithy would be fired up to produce hardware, everything from nails, to hinges, to chain.

Life on the farm required you to be a "Jack of all trades"; a term that was first seen in writing to describe William Shakespear in 1592. It was a time when being broadly skilled and knowledgeable was not considered a bad thing. In fact, the phrase, "a jack of all trades", before it was turned into a joke by the Boston Newsletter in August of 1721 when they added the derogatory tag line "master of none", was often used as a compliment for a person who is good at fixing things and had a good level of broad knowledge in the trades. Essentially, the family members on the farm were masters of integration: knowing enough of many learned trades and skills to be able to bring these disciplines together in a practical manner. Life on the farm required a person to be a generalist rather than a specialist.

Now in the 21st century where everyone seems to be incredibly specialized, Traditions Workshop is quite an anachronism. Yes, we do woodwork, and metalwork, and stained glass, and ... Very unusual today but required if we are to restore, refinish and repair the treasures of the past we are given in trust to bring back to life. My son said it best;" we don't just restore furniture, we restore memories". To do that requires a lot of different skills.

Brunswick phonograph grill work.
To restore this Brunswick phonograph we had to make a replacement grill which we designed and cut out on our CNC. We sometimes have to use modern tools to replicate traditional arts. We also restored the internal mechanisms so it could be wound up and play a record.

So, this blog will be about what we do in the workshop. Which is a little of everything. Articles about the pieces we are asked to fix, some of them have fascinating histories. Articles about the unusual things we get to build, requiring us to put our skills to the test in new and creative ways.

Articles about the classes we provide; keeping folk skills alive for the next generation of craftsmen is yet another thing we do. We hope you will come along with us on this journey, perhaps even becoming one of those craftsmen in the next generation. What we do at Traditions Workshop tells a story and that is a legacy worth perpetuating. Join us for the saga.

steampunk lamp
Steampunk lamp we created for a customer as "a conversation starter" to be kept in his office. It doubles as a cell phone charger.

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