Tinkering With the Past

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Location: Saxeville, Wisconsin, Douglasville, Georgia, United States

I was born a tinker, and I've finally found a place where it fits in. Give me a problem, and I'll find a solution to it!

21 August 2012


 Tin Kitchen
This tin kitchen was made from 7 sheets of standard 10 x 14 inch tin plate. It measures approx. 16 inches high (plus handles), 10 inches deep, and 20 inches wide. It was patterned from an original that I own, using the same techniques, tools, and materials.

 The opening door is a full 10 x 14 inch sheet with the edges rolled over a wire. The spit was made by a friend of mine who is a blacksmith. 
This tin kitchen will be used on the hearth at the Great Hall of the Grand Portage National Monument fur trade post.

Can It!

It seems that the latest batch of tinware has been all about cylinders and the use of the double seaming stake. I completed a dozen storage canisters for Grand Portage in July, as well as a tin kitchen that is basically a cylinder on its side. I also made a few wash basins and 2-sheet kettles, all using a double seaming stake. Unfortunately, I did not get that stake included in these pictures.

The most challenging part of the canisters is matching the lid to the body. It needs to fit tightly, but not so snug that it can't be removed. I end up making each lid after the base is completed to insure a good fit. I was able to make some additional canisters, in a couple of different sizes, while I was at the Grand Portage Rendezvous in August.

My next project will be completing a chocolate pot or two. Autumn weather will be here soon, and hot cocoa seems like just the right beverage for the occasion.

05 September 2011


One of the simplest, but most asked about tools that I use in 19 c. demonstrations is the square pan swedge. I've been making baking pans, loaf pans, tart/pie pans, and star pans again recently. The one sheet, no-seam rectangular pans vary in size but are related by their overall dimensions. A full 10 x 14 inch standard sheet was used to make each of the rectangular pans pictured here.
Each of the pans has a turned top to eliminate the sharp edge. Their sizes range from 8 3/4 (w) x 12 1/2 (l) x 1/2 (d) sheet pan to the tapered 4 3/4 (w) x 8 1/2 (l) x 3 (d) loaf pan. Interestingly, the loaf pan is a match to the modern bread pan which makes me think that the size of the tinplate influenced baking in a way I hadn't previously considered.

The tart/pie pans are 8 x 1 1/4 with a base of 6 1/2. They fit well into a standard cast iron bake kettle. The star shaped trivet is included to keep the air space around the pan that helps prevent burning.

I also wanted to see how hexagon and octagon shaped bases would shape up into pudding pans. I was inspired by a Moravian pan that I saw, but unfortunately didn't photograph, at Old Salem. These are the first results of that session. These also seem to be similar to a small pan d'oro baking pan.

24 May 2011

Interesting reflector oven

This reflector oven was a recent find. It appears to be functional, but I have never seen one this shaped before. The tray has been replaced, but the rest of it is complete.

23 September 2010

A Good Reminder for My Fall Season

The author of this article expressed so clearly what I know in my heart but sometimes am tempted to forget to protect. The questions that we get asked are opportunities to interact, not waste with snide remarks or indignation.

From the ALHFAM Bulletin, written by Carrie Fellows, Fall 2006.


I hope you agree.

07 September 2010

Our WWW -Wonderful Westville Weekend

Margaret and I spent Friday and Saturday at Historic Westville in Lumpkin, GA. They had a Homeschoolers' Day on Friday and a Family Day on Saturday.

Margaret spent her days in the kitchen of the log cabin homestead. It was really nice to use a full hearth and that gave her the chance to use the reflector oven and small bird roaster. She prepared some nice dishes and found a few ways to get some hands-on experience for the homeschoolers. They ground spices, made "pounded" biscuits, snapped beans, and let them compare raw and roasted coffee beans.

Meanwhile, I was in one of the shops up the road, set up as a tin shop. It was pleasant to have such a great building to use. The director decided that they will continue to use the building as a demonstration site in the future. It had been an office for the last few years.
All in all, it was a Wonderful Westville Weekend

24 August 2010

Willow Chicken Basket

A chicken basket for my hens! Thanks to a friend of mine, my chickens can now attend an event if they are permitted. The 18c. willow chicken basket was acquired in a trade for a small bird roaster. The 2 young dominiques seemed to find it comfortable.

07 January 2010

Living History Park, North Augusta

We had the opportunity to participate in a colonial weekend at LHP. It was a great location and a wonderful experience in spite of the weather that was a bit soggy. This is the first event I've done where period correct running water was provided. (There's a natural spring with potable water in the middle of the park. We met some great new people and enjoyed some Southern hospitality.