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:

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