WE'VE gathered together a number of projects and downloads which we've found to be complimentary to school field trips and/or other events that we conduct. Some of the projects (e.g., a paper bag haversack) are great to make with children before an event. Other projects (e.g., sharpening a feather into a writing quill) are aimed at participants who have already attended one of our events and want to do even more. Most of the downloads provide helpful information that we usually cover, in some form, during our events.
Paper Bag Haversack
IN the course of a field trip or one of our other events, participants will typically make and/or buy something that they will then need to keep with them for the rest of the day. Because many of our activities involve very lively participation, it can be a challenge to keep all of these possessions together and safe. A great―and Colonial―solution is a haversack, a bag-like accessory with a strap that men used to wear to carry their belongings. A haversack doesn't have to be sewn together out of cloth, however; it can be easily constructed by children using a large paper bag and fasteners (e.g., staples).
Sharpening a Quill
A feather, by itself, will not write very well! It must first be cleaned, prepared, and properly cut. The best feathers to use are from large birds with a similarly large calamus, or stalk, in their feathers. At Camp Flintlock, for example, we typically sell turkey feathers. Our feathers are already cleaned and ready to be turned into writing instruments.
CLEAN feathers should prepared before cutting. This preparation involves removing any parts of the vane or afterfeather (the "fluff" near the end of the calamus) that will get in the way of the cutting or, later, the actual writing. The feather may optionally be styled by trimming it into a different shape; such styling was very popular in Colonial times.
THERE are four main cuts that are required to turn a feather into a writing quill. The first cut should be made at a sharp angle, removing the end of the calamus and forming the initial shape of the nib (the writing part). The second and third cuts are made solely to sharpen the nib; a sharper nib will write more accurately, but a more blunted nib has the advantage of durability. The fourth, and final cut, involves making a slit: a short slice that runs up to the tip of the nib, cutting it perfectly in half. The slit is very important because it is what allows the ink to flow onto the paper. When finished, the nib should look similar to the nib on a fountain pen.
CLOTHING in Colonial times was more extensive than it is in modern American culture. Each garment had a specific name and, while some of the garments have modern equivalents, they look different than the clothing one might see today.
Flirting with Fans
IN Colonial times, fans were used for more than keeping cool on a hot day. Because boys and girls were in separate classes in school and couldn't readily talk to each other, the fan evolved into a means of clandestine communication. A young lady could signal a boy that she wanted to meet him at a certain time or, if he was a pest, signal him to go away; an entire language evolved around the use of the fan.