Monday, March 8, 2010

Now Taking Reservations for Silhouette Portraits

The Curran Homestead Living History Farm and Museum is now taking reservations for appointments for sittings for handmade silhouette portraits by Ruth Monsell of Damariscotta. Sittings will take place 9a.m.-4p.m. Saturday, March 27, at 372 Fields Pond Rd., Orrington. Monsell is the only silhouette artist working in Maine; she began her career cutting silhouettes when she noticed a complete absence of this folk art tradition at artist shows she frequented.

This art form was in the US and Europe from the late 18th to the mid-19th century, and there were several known itinerant artists known to have worked in Maine, including Galen Jerome Brewer, who produced portraits between 1844-1856 and whose grandfather founded the city that bears his name. Brewer’s work is on display at the State Museum in Augusta.

Dr. Robert Schmick, museum director of The Curran Homestead, said, the silhouette portraits done by Ms. Monsell involve a set of very sharp scissors which she uses to snip out a profile of her subject from black paper which is then mounted on white card. What seems most amazing to watch is that through her skill she achieves a likeness in a matter of minutes.”

The cost is $29 per portrait, $10 for copies, for an additional fee of $15 and more, frame choices and framing are available on-site.To schedule silhouette sittings or obtain information, call Robert Schmick at 843-5550 or email: Part of the proceeds from the event will benefit the Curran Homestead’s restoration and living history mission.

March 27, 10AM-2PM, has also been declared the Curran Homestead’s annual Maple Festival and Irish Celebration Day. Visitors can expect an Easter egg hunt, live Irish music, a maple sap to syrup-making demonstration and a tasting of foods made with maple syrup along with Irish stew.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Brewer Historical Attends Tomahawk Making Demonstration at the Fields Pond Smithy

On Tuesday, March 2, at 7 PM, The Curran Homestead Living History Farm and Museum, hosted the monthly meeting of the Brewer Historical Society. The Fields Pond Smithy at the farm and museum was the site of a tomahawk making demonstration by guest historical artifact artist and blacksmith Ken Hamilton of Corinth. Ken’s program was entitled “Tools and Hardware of the Historic Fur Trade in Maine." More than twenty people sat and stood amongst anvils, forges, and other equipment in the smithy as Ken's talk elaborated in detail on life in 17th and 18th century North America, and his collection of both historical artifacts (tomahawks, spits, crooked knives, skinning knives and the like) and historically accurate facsimile of his own making which served to illustrate the fact that pioneer and Native American life at that time depended on serviceable metal tools and weapons.

Audience members were given the opportunity to handle these still very deadly weapons. While he talked Ken forged a tomahawk with a forge welded edge using a coal burning forge, hammer, and anvil. This demonstration was punctuated by flying sparks and, at one point, a piece of red hot metal cut from the anvil with force.

The talk and demonstration lasted until nearly a quarter to nine, when ken put the final hammer blows to his newly made tomahawk, quenched it in a water bucket and ground its surface with a power angle grinder ( Ken argues that had the pioneers had such a tool they would have used it as he does). After the demonstration all made their way across the soggy lawn to the Curran farmhouse where they partook of refreshments, cake, some Benny Goodman music on the Victrola, and shared their recollections of Catherine and Alfred Curran, the museum's late benefactors.

Ken will be offering a similar all day demonstration and talk, 9-4PM, with a lunch break, to the general public by reservation on March 28 at the Fields Pond Smithy for 20 dollars. This demonstration will additionally include the making of a crooked knife and a “strike-o-light,” a pioneer era fire-making tool, as well as a tomahawk. The demonstration will be the essential first part of a three-day hands-on blacksmithing workshop “Tools and Hardware of the Historic Fur Trade” continuing on April 11 & 18 for a limited eight students who will have the opportunity to forge their own tomahawk, crooked knife, and “strike-o-lights.” To reserve a place in the complete three-day workshop ( March 28, April 11 & 18) for the tuition cost of $150, or the March 28 public demonstration, please contact: Robert Schmick, Museum Director of The Curran Homestead, at 843-5550, or email: For additional information, visit: