Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Making Washington's Tent: Debut

This past weekend, Colonial Williamsburg officially opened the Anderson Armoury Complex and the First Oval Office Project debuted the first version of George Washington's sleeping marquee. The second version, to be completed this winter, will be made from the custom-woven linen produced this summer and just recently bleached by Jeff Krauss at the North Carolina State University College of Textiles. While I'll be finishing up my Ph.D. coursework at the University of Delaware, some of my compatriots will be sewing this winter on a final version of the marquee. I'll be following that work closely, as should you, via the project's facebook page and live webcam.

With the newly bleached linen, ready for the next version of the marquee.

When I left at the end of this summer, our mahogany tent poles had been completed by the Colonial Williamsburg's joiners, but awaited the iron collar sleeves that facilitate the two parts of each pole locking together as well as a final oiling. This work was completed over the last few weeks.

Joseph Privott, Aaron Walker, and Tyler Putman with the marquee tent poles.

A closeup of the iron sleeves attached to the tent poles. Each of the three tent poles (two uprights and a ridge) are, just like the originals, made from two scarf-jointed sections.

Over the course of the weekend, the crew erected the marquee three times, each time learning more about the process and getting faster. On our second trial on Saturday, we had the tent completely set up in about half an hour. I can only imagine that the men of Washington's guard assigned to this task during the Revolutionary War could have managed it in even less time. The photographs below are snapshots of the process, all taken by Nicole Belolan

Spreading out the roof of the marquee. The rope line in the foreground will be the center line of the tent.

Placing the poles.

Fitting the two uprights into the ridge pole, which has been inserted into a sleeve in the roof of the inner chamber.

Mark Hutter, at left, is holding two of the weather lines and will begin pulling on them to lift up the ridge pole. Nicole Rudolph and Samantha McCarty, in the center of the image, will hold the bases of the two uprights in place as the tops lift up. Two people will guide the upright poles to their final vertical position.

With the tent upright, the four weather lines are pinned to the ground.

Several of the guy lines on each end of the marquee are pinned to the ground.

The guy lines are pinned in, radiating around the tent's sides.

Each pin is pounded into place.
Nicole Belolan took a break from taking most of these photos to help pound in one of the tent pins.

The ceiling of the inner chamber is pulled out towards the marquee roof by a series of ropes, grommets, and wooden buttons.

The wall of the marquee, in several sections, is put into place.

The marquee wall is suspended from the roof by hooks and eyes.

Nicole Rudolph hooking in the wall, from The First Oval Office.

Michael Ramsey pounds in smaller tent pins around the base of the wall, from The First Oval Office.

A view of the inner chamber and one upright pole.

An upright pole with the inner chamber ceiling and marquee roof, from The First Oval Office.

The ceiling of the inner chamber, from The First Oval Office.

The marquee and two of our common tents, from The First Oval Office.

Michael Ramsey interprets the First Oval Office for Colonial Williamsburg visitors.

Inside the First Oval Office.

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