Saturday, January 14, 2012

More Cattail, Milkweed adventures

Here's a leather pillow stuffed with two of our favorite wild foods, cattail and milkweed. It's made from an old leather couch, and sewn together with Irish shoemakers linen. It has a suede side and a smooth side, and is very nice to sleep on, and pretty easy to make too. I made this pillow with about a half and half mix of cattail down and milkweed silks.


I used four different stitches on here, to see which one i liked best- so far, this one's th' winner. It loops through itself and holds nicely.

Cattails spread by rhizomes, so i just collected what i needed of their corn dog looking fluff, and didn't worry much about taking too many.
With th' milkweed however, i was a little more cautious. I took only th' fluffy silk, scattering th' seeds where th' plants grew. I remember reading in one of Euell Gibbons books of essays about him figuring out a good way to separate th' silk from th' seed. It didn't make much sense till i actually tried it. His two essay collections, Stalking the Good Life and Stalking the Faraway places i found on amazon for about a dollar, best dollar i ever spent by th' way. 
What i did was collect th' pods in th' fall, after they had cracked open, but not fully opened up. Once they're open and spreading silk, it gets much more difficult to harvest it.

milkweed pod

and here's that split-perfect time to harvest silk
Once you open th' pod all th' way, th' silk lays flat, and it looks kinda like a fish.

milkweed seeds
Hold it by th' silk, just like in th' photo above, then just rub th' seeds off. You'll lose a little bit of th' silk too, but not much. Th' silk can then be placed in a bag, where it will expand and want to fly all over th' place.

seeds partially rubbed off
milkweed silks

Inside there's a little membrane that you'll want to get out, then just stuff your bag till it's full. 
In th' past milkweed silks were used to stuff lifevests, and it must be one of th' most insulating fibers on th' planet. You can literally feel your hand warming up when you stick it inside a bag of milkweed silk. There's potential here. Something that floats, is waterproof, and very warm. What could we do with that?

If you'd like to see more of our crafts creations, click here.

And, just to get you in a sleepy mood, here's some pictures of th' sunset outside my workshop. Good night.


sunset outside my shop (garage)


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