Gate design

To the editor:

Having just returned to England, I thought your readers might be interested to know about the design workshop run over the Oct. 9 weekend by Terrence Clark and myself at Walt Hull’s forge in Lawrence, to design decorative hand-forged entrance gates for the Black Jack Battlefield site near Baldwin City.

The workshop was organized by Kate Dinneen, herself a blacksmith, with whom we had both worked a few years ago. The group of some 20 participants visited the Black Jack site on Saturday morning and were met by John Brown in person — magnificently inhabited by Kerry Altenbernd and guarded by Thom Weik — both armed and in period costume. John Brown spoke with eloquence and passion about his philosophy, the site and its history.

The design workshop included four young people from the Van Go project in Lawrence, together with professional and amateur blacksmiths from the region and from Texas and Canada. Initially everyone drew their own design proposals, which were reviewed by the group. More drawings were made and through discussion, a consensus developed on a design for the gates.

Members of the board of the Black Jack Battlefield Trust were able to see the development of the design and liked what they saw. It now remains to complete and detail the design, so the gates can be made at another group event next spring.

We would like to thank everyone who took part, Walt for allowing us to use his workshop, Kate and Tom for their hospitality and the Black Jack board members for their enthusiasm and understanding.