Enduring Craftsmanship

As with too many people and businesses across the country in this altered pandemic reality, museums and living history sites struggled to remain relevant to their usual inperson visitors while sustaining their staffs. Employees at many sites, working remotely, adapted by creating engaging activities and exhibitions for young and old while we all stayed at home.

Some sites have tentatively started to open, offering limited events and tours while adhering to state-mandated social distancing guidelines. Others in harder hit, more populous regions continue to rely on digital content.

The pandemic presented a challenge for us this issue in that we have featured the work of the heritage artisans chosen for our annual Directory of Traditional American Crafts in museum settings for nearly twenty years.

Originally we planned to travel to South Carolina, intending to present the top artisans’ work within the buildings of North Augusta’s Living History Park. Startled by her community’s lack of knowledge about the region’s colonial history—so often overshadowed by the Civil War&,dash;Lynn Thompson and a dedicated group of historically minded volunteers imagined and built a village to engage children. Although we couldn’t tour the park in person, we share the story in the following pages.

To continue our Directory tradition while minimizing travel and potential health concerns, we revisited nearby Historic Zoar Village, where we could photograph the artisans’ work safely in the historic buildings. These fine pieces stand out among the practical furnishings of the Separatists who founded the village in 1817 and voted to pool their resources for the good of the community.

In contrast, the home Jabez and Lydia Bacon designed for themselves in 1760 in Woodbury, Connecticut, speaks of the couple’s social aspirations in its fine Georgian architecture. Current owners Ryan Fox and J.R. Cordrey have filled it with a suitable collection of 18th-Century furnishings, much of them made locally, as well as modern influences. They show how “living green” by maintaining a historic home can be both comfortable and rewarding.

As we sheltered at home, we rediscovered the joys and challenges of maintaining and beautifying our own living spaces. Indoors, many certainly tackled long-delayed projects, perhaps tapping into that dormant knack for needlecrafts or woodcarving. With winter finally behind us (despite some mid-May snows, at least in northeast Ohio), we emerged to plant flowers, trim trees, and plot our vegetable gardens.

For my part, besides escaping outdoors to walk in the nearby Metroparks with Bella, my rescue dog, I dusted off my sewing machine, finished the living room curtains and valances, and took up mask making.

I hope parents who suddenly found themselves in the role of educators enlisted their children in building, cooking, planting, sewing, and most of all, experiencing the rewards of fruitful work and the pleasure of imaginative play.

As such places as Historic Zoar Village and the Living History Park teach us, learning to be creative and selfsufficient like our ancestors are skills worth celebrating and nurturing—for ourselves, our communities, and the generations who will follow.

Jeanmarie Andrews

Executive Editor

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