a foundation in
Craft & Forge
emerges from the hands-on
the historic trades at
Today, as they did nearly 250 years ago, the gifted makers of Colonial Williamsburg use traditional techniques and tools on-site at what was the largest and most influential of the early American settlements.
We look to these artisan techniques and trades to inform our brand partnerships and product design.
Forging Fire, Working with Metals
tinsmiths, and gunsmiths
begin their days by lighting fires in the forges. Tools, weapons, cookery, and decorative objects are crafted by hammering and shaping hot metals into finished products with precision and skill.
Coopers, cabinetmakers, and joiners make barrels, fine furniture and architectural finishes such as doors and shingles. The smell of freshly planed wood and sounds of wood shavings hitting the ground transport you to an era when these trades were viewed as an art form.
Weaving the Fabric
of Colonial Lives
Weavers convert tangled masses of flax, cotton, and wool into precise fabrics while tailors use these fabrics to construct elegant costumes and military uniforms. Mantua-makers
use the latest ornaments and accessories, called millinery to decorate and embellish.
Cut, Mold and Stitch Leather
Shoemakers, bookbinders, and artisans at the Public Leatherworks make products by hand using traditional methods and tools. These artisans are some of the last few in the world to make shoes, books and other leather goods entirely by hand using traditional tools and techniques.
Herbs, Flowers, and Vegetables
What was it like to be sick or injured in colonial times? Meet the apothecaries and learn how medicine, wellness, and surgical practices of the 18th century compare to today. Gardeners provide produce and herbs for farm to table events and dining throughout Colonial Williamsburg.
The Importance of
Employing tradespeople offers a realistic portrayal of the apprentice experience in the colonial era, but the motivations for this program transcend historical authenticity. For the students, we open up the possibility of career paths in the trades, both modern and historical, that most may not have considered previously.
Apprentice to Master
The Historic Area is filled with tradespeople practicing traditional skills and sharing their knowledge.