The Journal Register (Medina, NY)

September 30, 2013

Cobbling up the lost arts

By HOWARD BALABAN howard.balaban@journal-register.com
Medina Journal-Register

Medina Journal-Register — ALBION — This past weekend the Cobblestone Society offered up a unique experience it called “Traders of the Lost Arts.” The society, which lists its home at the Cobblestone Museum, welcomed artisans and demonstrators from around Western New York.

The featured people focused on “lost arts” that are commonly completed by machines nowadays. Arts like blacksmithing, glassblowing, and the process of taking flax from plant to linen.

One more modern art — photography — was also featured by Paul Pearce. He set up his display of stereo photography in the basement of the museum, which was built in 1834 as a church. Photography was invented only four years later.

Pearce showcased a number of photos and viewfinders with multiple lenses, giving visitors a chance to experience what it was like to look at pictures a hundred years ago.

He jokingly pointed at one picture of a classroom in which all the students were looking through a viewfinder, and said it was last century’s version of Google Maps.

Elsewhere, at the blacksmith’s forge across the street, Joel Emerson of Albion pounded on a piece of hot iron to make a hook. Emerson, a member of the Cobblestone Society board, was working as a smithy for the first time on Sunday, under the guidance of Tom O’Connor of Pittsford.

Outside the building with the forge stood Dave Hansler of Batavia, who was demonstrating the art of glassblowing. Hansler, who has a studio in Glass Roots, made a variety of pendants and smaller objects and he brought a small display of some larger blown items.

Around the corner sat Jean Neff of Amherst. Neff travels around Western New York demonstrating how early settlers worked with flax. She showed how the stem of the plant could be used for many things, including rope, twine, and linens. The seeds, which today make up part of many people’s diets, were not commonly eaten years ago. Neff added that the process of going from plant to rope or garment is quite time consuming.

Cobblestone Society President Susan Rudnicky said the Traders of the Lost Arts was made possible thanks to a grant by GO ART! and the weekend featured a steady stream of visitors.

“We’ve done something like this in the past, but it had more of an emphasis on vendors,” she stated. “This time we’ve just got the artists and we’re talking about the museum and the arts.”

Though there were not too many children who stopped by over the weekend, Rudnicky said those who did were very interested in what they found, as there were a handful of interactive activities.

Rudnicky ran a proof press, which allowed people the chance to operate an old-fashioned printer. And her sister, Sarah Tobin, travelled up from Holland to work with self-hardening clay. Children who stopped by her demonstration area were afforded the opportunity to make items like candle holders or ornaments.

The weekend also included a quilting exhibit, a rug hooking demonstration, and live music.