Fort Ticonderoga has already hosted four workshops as part of its Historic Trades program — one on coat making, two on making leather breeches and another on making napsacks.
Ticonderoga Joel Anderson became a tailor out of necessity.
An avid historic re-enactor, Anderson couldn’t find affordable, authentic period clothing for his hobby. The solution was simple, although not easy — he learned to make his own.
“When I started as a re-enactor all I could find was poorly-crafted props. I felt like I was wearing a costume instead of an authentic piece of history. I realized if I wanted to do it right, I’d have to make my own clothes.”
Anderson, who was recently named artificer supervisor at Fort Ticonderoga, is now leading the fort’s Historic Trades program.
“In the 18th Century people had trades — tailors, shoemakers, carpenters, blacksmiths,” explained Stuart Lilie, Fort Ticonderoga’s director of interpretation. “They were like plumbers, electrician's, mechanics are today. They were skilled craftsmen using the technology of the period. They often served 5 to 7 years as apprentices learning their trade.”
Fort Ticonderoga hopes to keep those skills alive in its Historic Trades program, said Beth Hill, the fort’s executive director.
“It fits perfectly with our mission,” she said, “providing a living experience rooted in our documentation. We have the best staff in the country right here in Ticonderoga. This is another way to utilize their talents.”
The Learning Trades program will serve two purposes, Hill said. It will serve as an educational effort, teaching interested people how to make authentic 18th Century clothing, and it will be a source of clothing for the fort’s interpretive staff, who will wear the items made through the program.
“I believe this program will attract people from across the country and aboard,” Hill said, noting many historic re-enactors want to learn the skills being taught. “There’s an interest far and wide.”
Fort Ticonderoga has already hosted four workshops as part of the program — one on coat making, two on making leather breeches and another on making napsacks. Another napsack workshop is scheduled along with classes on making cartridge pouches and felt hats.