Friday, August 21, 2009

A Blacksmithing Association Open To All Will Have Its First Meeting At The Curran Homestead on September 2, 2009 at 7PM

For Immediate Press Release

The idea of forming an association of blacksmiths was recently conceived by a few people from eastern Maine interested in learning about and creating through this traditional art. Building a forge that this interested group can use for this end is integral to our mission. The forge is scheduled to be built at The Curran Homestead Living History Farm and Museum. On Wednesday, September 2, 2009 at 7PM, the first meeting of this association will be at The Curran Homestead, 372 Fields Pond Rd., Orrington, ME. All blacksmithing enthusiasts are invited to join us.

The Maine State Museum, with funds from the State of Maine’s New Century Community Program awarded The Curran Homestead a $2,651.44 Historical Facilities Grant to both improve their facilities for housing their historical collections and creating educational programming that focuses on blacksmithing. The farm and museum preserves and perpetuates family farm life as it was at the turn-of-the-20th Century. It recently purchased local rough cut hemlock to build a blacksmithing shed with the State Museum award. The structure will be built entirely by volunteers. In addition to housing its collection of blacksmithing tools and accoutrements, we anticipate that it will be an inviting learning and work place for amateurs, hobbyists, and professional blacksmiths alike, according to Robert Schmick, director of education at The Curran Homestead.

Schmick added that “the materials for the project have been delivered, but rain has delayed us only temporarily. We hope to break ground soon. A masonry forge will be located in one corner, and additional portable farrier forges will serve for blacksmithing round-ups and large group instruction and productivity. Through generous donations, we have amassed the key equipment for a typical late-19th century forge, including leg vises, a hand drill press, anvil, hammers, punches, chisels, hardy (s), tongs, but charitable donations of additional items are always welcome.

Bob Robinson of the Split Rock Forge in Stockton Springs, ME was especially instrumental in the original design of our smithy plan and the acquisition of much of our equipment. Robinson went through a formal apprenticeship as a blacksmith in his youth, and continues to work at a forge he built in the 60s. He has done demonstrations at some of The Curran Homestead's past events, and their popularity largely influenced our decision to create a permanent forge for the purpose of hands-on education at the farm.”

“These grants support community efforts to preserve and share the stories of our people, our towns, our families and how we lived our lives,” noted Joseph R. Phillips, Museum Director of the Maine State Museum. “Without these objects and buildings, important pieces of our Maine heritage would be lost.” Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap says a recent report to the Maine Legislature indicated many of Maine’s historical collections (photographs, paintings, natural history collections, letters, etc.) are in danger of being lost to mold, fire, theft, or misuse. “Maine has an estimated 200 million historical objects and records, many in facilities with little or no security, fire protection, or environmental controls. Maine people in local government, historical societies, and libraries are seeking help to preserve heritage,” Secretary Dunlap commented. Small grants have stimulated local citizens and organizations to commit more of their own resources to these projects. “Although financial support is important, recognition of local concerns and effort through an award should also generate a substantial amount of enthusiasm,” Phillips noted.

For more information about the Historical Facilities and Historical Museum Collections Grant Program, call the Cultural Resources Information Center at 287-7591 or email: For information about The Curran Homestead or the first meeting of the blacksmithing association, please contact: Robert Schmick at, or 207-843-5550.