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EAIA 2013 Cape Cod — Day 1

This past weekend Alyssa and I attended our first EAIA annual meeting which was held in Hyannis on Cape Cod. For those not familiar with the EAIA, it is the Early American Industries Association which is an organization that celebrates the trades, crafts, and tools that were a part of American history and have made an impact in all our lives.  We were members for a few years, but this was the first event we attended…and now we can’t wait for next year’s events! Below and in some upcoming posts I’ll try to recap some highlights from this years events which kept us busy.

Obligatory tourist picture of me in front of the sign where we are...
Obligatory tourist picture of me in front of the sign where we are…

You can learn more about the EAIA here

View of Plimoth Plantation from the Fort
View of Plimoth Plantation from the Fort

We started out our day with the introductory/orientation film and then an interesting talk by Peter Follansbee who is an expert on 17th century woodworking and quite the interesting character. He talked about his own background, interesting changes at the plantation over the years and research into traditional woodworking of that era.

Beautifully stacked firewood getting ready for the long winter ahead
Beautifully stacked firewood getting ready for the long winter ahead

After that program we were free to explore the plantation and/or take part in some other behind the scenes tours.

Justin Keegan (NBSS CFM + Plimoth Interpretter) hewing a log
Justin Keegan (NBSS CFM + Plimoth Interpreter) hewing a log

My wife and I had been to Plimoth many times over the years, and some of my classmates from NBSS worked at the museum so I did not have high hopes for this part of the event, but I was happy to see some programs and behind the scenes events where I learned some interesting new information. We also got to have lunch ‘Like a Pilgrim’ eating some food prepared as it would have been back in the 17th century — so some traditional turkey, vegetables, desert, condiments, utensils (or lack thereof — I missed my spork), and table manners.

New building in the village
New building in the village

In the Plimoth Maritime Workshop we took part in a lecture on 17th century Shallop boats, how they were used in the colony and how the plantation recreated some of these vessels, issues that came up during construction and how they fared on the open sea.

Lecture about the 17th century Shallop (boat), its use in early Plimoth, and the recreation of some of these vessels
Lecture about the 17th century Shallop (boat), its use in early Plimoth, and the recreation of some of these vessels

I love to see this sort of behind the scenes workshop — to see how they setup, how they work, what tools they use etc.

In the Plimouth Maritime Workshop -- I love to see the behind the scenes workshops at this sort of living history museum
In the Plimoth Maritime Workshop — I love to see the behind the scenes workshops at this sort of living history museum

The pungent smell of pine tar on the rigging from the Mayflower II which was in drydock was quite strong, but added to the ambiance — though folks with asthma did not agree with me on that.

Even if you were great with knots as a scout, I bet you'd have trouble with the massive rigging covered in pine tar that belong to the Mayflower II
Even if you were great with knots as a scout, I bet you’d have trouble with the massive rigging covered in pine tar that belong to the Mayflower II

We had great weather all weekend. We also took part in a private tour event where one of the curators explained how the plantation uses experimental archaeology and character interpretation to explore the mindset and problems of the time period and also to try and answer some of the questions we have about the times given the incomplete records that survive.  Who would have thought that thread + textiles specifically spun to recreate a 17th century coat would help improve sutures used in open heart surgery?

Annual session of 'Whatsit' where members try to guess what some particularly odd tools were used for
Why did these chickens cross the road? …. to get to Peter Follansbee’s talk of course.

The livestock on the plantation were quite used to humans and friendly; no animatronic squirrels like at Williamsburg (*wink* to my friends at CW with that old joke)

Peter Follansbee in his natural habitat -- the Joiner's shop
Peter Follansbee in his natural habitat — the Joiner’s shop

There were also numerous demonstrations from folks working in the historic trades — blacksmithing, woodworking, pottery, textiles, cooking etc.

Carved Book-stand by Peter Follansbee
Carved Book-stand by Peter Follansbee

If you’d like to learn more about Plimoth Plantation or plan a visit of your own, check out their website here.

Annual session of 'Whatsit' where members try to guess what some particularly odd tools were used for
Annual session of ‘Whatsit’ where members try to guess what some particularly odd tools were used for

After dinner and an ice cream social for first time attendees we took part in the annual ‘Whatsit’ session. Folks try and stump the other tool enthusiasts with their recent finds — or figure out what that oddball tool your late relative left you in his will was actually used for. Not surprisingly there is not as much demand for a brass button polisher or ox training yolk as you might think.

It was a beautiful day filled with back to back events. Stay tuned for a bit more on woodworking at the Plimoth Plantation and Day 2 and 3…

2 thoughts on “EAIA 2013 Cape Cod — Day 1”

  1. Very nice job of reporting on a remarkable event.
    When people get together on the basis of shared values deeply held, the vibe is fine!

    Please post when and where the next EAIA event will be held!

    Thanks,
    Sara

    1. Thank you. Each day I’ll post about other events from this past weekend.
      I don’t have any dates yet, but I believe next year is in Pittsburgh, and the following is in Quebec City.

      Take care,
      -Bill

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