The cottage craft coopering tradition taught at the Somerset Historical Center stems from continual passing down of the craft within Somerset County from the 1800s to the present day. James Johnson and Jubal Werner, whose family were Somerset County coopers, shared
their knowledge in the 1970’s with Mark Ware who in turn shared the techniques and knowledge with numerous other persons throughout the years as a Museum Educator with the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission at the Somerset Historical Center.
Mark Ware: Coopering since 1974, he learned from Somerset County descendants, and has documented and preserved Somerset County
coopering techniques throughout the years. He also studied coopering through a Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission Professional Enhancement Grant with Master Cooper George Pettingill at Colonial Williamsburg, a PA Council on the Arts grant with James R. Johnson, and at Petersvalley, a New Jersey Craft School. Numerous volunteers who have previously taken the coopering workshop come back to assist participants. The Somerset Historical Center’s Coopering School is dedicated to teaching these traditional Somerset County coopering techniques for future generations. To date more than 150 persons have participated in the coopering school classes.
Coopering in Somerset County, Pennsylvania Coopering was an important cottage craft industry throughout the Somerset County Maple Sugar Region. Wooden buckets, tubs, sugar keelers (buckets to collect maple sugar water as it dripped from the spile) and other wooden vessels were needed throughout the county for the burgeoning maple sugar industry. Many farmers in the region were ‘Jacks of all Trades” and were able to make the needed items as a sideline to farming.
These skilled artisans fashioned thousands of maple sugar keelers from white pine and bound them with hoops made of white oak. Participants construct a maple sugar keeler using traditional methods and hand tools. Stave construction, head measurement and fitting, metal hoop splaying and riveting will be taught.
Students work at their own pace, a person of average wood-working skills is able to complete the project during the workshop.
Friday, 4/26 from 6pm until...?
Saturday, 4/27 from 9am to 5pm
Sunday, 4/28 from 9am to 11am