Colonial Crafters

By: Regan Luebbert

Introduction

Craftsmen were some of the most important people during the colonial days. To name a few, there were blacksmiths, coopers, and wig makers. The blacksmiths made and repaired iron objects. Second are the coopers. The coopers made barrels and buckets, and we're very important! The wig makers made wigs. Believe it or not, almost all men wore wigs back then! Craftsmen were very important. Without them, families would have an immense amount of work to do on top of running their homes and families.

Blacksmiths

Blacksmiths made and repaired iron objects. First, the smith heated an object to a red glow, such as hinges, latches, and all kinds of tools. This was done in the forge. Then he would hammer the object by hand over an anvil. Blacksmiths were some of the most important people in town. Without a blacksmith, you wouldn't have silverware, or barrels, or cups, you name it. Anything iron. Blacksmiths can be simply called smiths, or those who made horseshoes were called farriers. Blacksmiths were very busy and were dedicated to their work.

Coopers

A cooper was a person who made barrels. Coopers could go by the name "barrel makers". To make a barrel, the cooper would stand wooden staves in a circle, put a metal ring around it, and heated it so the wood would be flexible. More rings were put around the barrel for a tight fit. After all, the had to be water tight. Lids were put on both ends, tightly. That's all there was to it! Don't be fooled, though. It was a hard and time-consuming project. Coopers were so important, that every ship was required to have one to care for the ships casks. The type of wood a cooper used depended on what they were making. White oak and hickory wood was used for barrels that held liquids. Cedar and pine were used for household items like buckets or churns. Coopers were very patient and hard working people.

Wigmakers

Wigmakers were usually quite wealthy. The believe it or not, lots of men wore wigs in colonial days! Typically, wigs were made to custom fit someone. There was a wide variety of colors and styles to choose from! Now get this; if there was no barber, the Wigmaker was also a barber. If there was no dentist, the barber was also a dentist! Wow! To make a wig, they would first have the client choose the style and color. (They used real human hair to make wigs!). then the wigmaker measured out the dimensions of the clients head. then, the client would return to their home. Next, the (HUMAN) hair was measured and cut to the desired length. then, the hair was cleaned. (Who would want another guys dirty hair on their head!?). After that it was battered and baked. This was done so the hair would hold its shape. After it was cooked and cooled, the batter was carefully scraped off. Then the wigmaker made small changes to the wig to give it the look the client desired. Wigmakers were very busy because a lot of men wore wigs.

Conclusion

Craftsmen were some of the most important people during the colonial days! Blacksmiths made all things iron. Barrel rings, cups, you name it! Coopers were important because barrels were in high demand. Wigmakers were typically wealthy because a lot of men wore wigs back then. Colonial craftsmen were very busy and hardworking people.

Glossary

  • Staves - staves are flat wooden panels used for the wall of a barrel.
  • Casks - a cask is a container like a barrel used for holding liquids.
  • Dimensions - the length, width, height, or depth of something.
  • High demand - when something is wanted or needed by lots of people.

Sources:

Books:
  • "Craftspeople", Bernardire S. Stevens, 1993
  • "The Wigmakers", Leonard Everett Fisher, 1965
  • "The Woodworkers", Bobbie Kalman and Deanna Brady, 2002
Online:
  • "Bellows". World Book Student, World Book, 2015. Web 5 Mar. 2015
  • "Blacksmith" World Book Student. World Book, 2015. Web 27 Feb. 2015