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July 3, 2009

CW's Historic Trades department names four new journeymen

Four Colonial Williamsburg apprentices have earned their journeymen status. The Foundation’s tradesmen and women acquire the skills and knowledge required by serving an apprenticeship. Not only are they good at the technical aspects of their work, they also have passion for 18th-century objects and technology and for learning more about their trades.

Journeyman printer William “Chad” Jones of Williamsburg began working in the Print Shop in 1999 as an interpreter. As an apprentice, he began to learn the responsibilities of the Print Shop, including setting type, dampening paper, working the press, cleaning up the shop and interpreting the 18th-century trade to guests.

During his apprenticeship, Jones also learned how to typeset a wide range of items from pamphlets to playbills to newspapers. His journeyman project was a booklet called, “The Art of Defence,” which deals with 18th-century sword fighting.

The Print Shop sells newspapers, pamphlets such as “A Treatise in Gardening,” and the “Virginia Almanac” in the Prentis Store and the Post Office.

Journeyman basketmaker Terry Thon of Newport News has been working at her trade for 12 of her 25 years at the Foundation. She learned under retired basketmaker Roy Black. “As a journeyman, I interpret history and make split white oak baskets,” she said. “I also have an apprentice, Kristy Engel, whom I am teaching.”

Thon said there are several skill levels Colonial Williamsburg basketmakers must achieve before they reach journeyman status. Those skills include: splitting white oak; making square-bottom baskets, round-bottom baskets and willow baskets; making a series of different sized baskets; caning chair seats; identifying different types of trees and learning how to cut them down for making baskets.

Products of the basketmakers can be found in the Prentis Store.

Jason Whitehead, a journeyman in masonry trades/brickyard from Williamsburg, began working at the Foundation 14 years ago. He started out at Tarpley’s Store as a sales interpreter. Two years later, he became an intern in the conservation department before joining the Brickyard.

He has worked on several projects since then. Whitehead helped lay foundations for outbuildings at the Randolph House. He helped complete 10,000 bricks for the Charlton Coffeehouse project.

Most recently, he has worked with other tradesmen at the Foundation to create a cannon furnace. This ongoing project allows tradesmen to see how a cannon was crafted in the 18th century.

Journeyman wheelwright Paul Zelesnikar of Williamsburg began working as an attendant at Colonial Williamsburg’s evening programs in 2000. In June 2002, he joined the Wheelwright Shop. As an apprentice, he assisted in the production of vehicles and wheels used not only at Colonial Williamsburg, but other museums. "Master wheelwright John Boag took me from a novice to a professional woodworker with a lot of hard work and patience," he said.

Zelesnikar’s journeyman project included a set of four wheels for the Blue Sociable carriage. “With any vehicle, the entire shop works on it, not an individual” he said. “My responsibility was not to just build, but to oversee the project."

Colonial Williamsburg’s Historic Trades program traces its beginnings to 1936. Since that time, it has evolved to become the largest and most diverse museum-operated trades programs in the world. Each of the program’s more than 70 artisans is a full-time professional in his or her trade, in addition to being an able to interpret.

Colonial Williamsburg operates 21 trade sites that include the Apothecary Shop, Blacksmith Shop, Cabinetmaker Shop, Gunsmith and Foundry, Historic Foodways, Masonry Trades, Printing Office and Bookbindery, Shoemaker Shop, Silversmith Shop, the Weave Room, the Wheelwright Shop and the Wigmaker Shop, as well as basketmakers, coopers, carpenters and rural tradesmen, milliners, tailors and a behind-the-scenes toolmaker.

A Colonial Williamsburg admissions ticket or Good Neighbor Card provides access to enjoy these programs.

Established in 1926, the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation is the not-for-profit educational institution that preserves and operates the restored 18th-century Revolutionary capital of Virginia as a town-sized living history museum, telling the inspirational stories of our nation’s founding men and women. Within the restored and reconstructed buildings, historic interpreters, attired as colonial men and women from slaves to shopkeepers to soldiers, relate stories of colonial Virginia society and culture – stories of our journey to become Americans – while historic trades people research, demonstrate and preserve the 18th-century world of work and industry. As Colonial Williamsburg interprets life in the time of the American Revolution guests interact with history through “Revolutionary City®” – a dramatic live street theater presentation.

Williamsburg is located in Virginia’s Tidewater region, 20 minutes from Newport News, within an hour’s drive of Richmond and Norfolk, and 150 miles south of Washington, D.C., off Interstate 64. For more information about Colonial Williamsburg, call 1-800-HISTORY or visit Colonial Williamsburg’s Web site at www.history.org.

Media Contact:
Penna Rogers
(757) 220-7121



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