Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Black Walnut Husk Dye

Just a short post to show what can be done with black walnut husks.
Here's a couple of Linden spoons before th' dyeing process.

And then after.

To make th' dye/stain i saved a bunch of husks from th' summer- Then when i was ready for it i simply boiled then in a large pot for about two hours, strain and voila! 
While th' husks were boiling i dropped th' spoons and a pair of linen pants in there for th' last hour. 

For th' spoons i simply let them dry then oiled them up, for th' pants i washed them in th' bathtub real good- and so much brown came out of them you'd never believe there could be any left, but alas, they are a nice dark brown. Walnut husks have enough tannins in them to act as a mordant, so they are a good place to start experimenting with natural dyes. I've also tanned a squirrel hide with them, but that's another story. 



Tuesday, November 13, 2012

New Life: Rowan Little Tree

Well th' past two weeks has introduced to th' world little Rowan. He was born at home, with no one around but me and beth, just as our first son Fynn was. Th' birth went very well- in fact, we had th' grandparents pick Fynn up at 7:30 pm- and by 10:30 we had another person living with us- well, on the outside anyway. Till about 8:30-9:00 or so i was assembling and painting Rowan's cradleboard.

Rowan Little-Tree Lighthouse

The cradleboard was and still is used by many indigenous cultures to swaddle their infants. Children who grow up using them are said to be strong willed, independent, patient people. We took our design from th' Navajo nation, and added a touch of milk paint to it. It is made of cedar, with th' bow being a split elm sapling. Here's our kitchen table just before th' birth, showing all th' pieces of th' cradleboard.

pieces of a navajo style cradleboard.
Th' board was assembled using rawhide, there are no screws nails or glue on it... then painted using milkpaint. Rawhide is tied on wet, then as it dries it shrinks and holds th' board together very solidly. Th' child is wrapped up in blankets, or in rabbit furs, and secured with lacing. He is cozy and safe in there. Some are made to be carried on th' back, i'll probably make another one and try that out in th' future, or we'll just attach straps to this one. 

cradleboard with milk paint

back side, showing lacing.

I know people who say this world is too messed up to bring a child into. I say this world is too messed up not to bring a child into. What other hope do we have? Children bring out th' best in folks. Let them spend time outside looking at trees, hearing birds- you won't ever have to convince them to "be green"- for they will be rooted firmly in the earth, with their hearts in th' sky.

On our first drive to th' store with Rowan, i remember thinking how harsh our world has become, at least th' parts we live in. Driving down th' streets, loud trucks belching out smokestacks of pollution- cold hard concrete, everything moving so fast. This is no place for a child i thought. Off to my right a field, gently swaying grass, a cottonwood tree, a creek. That is a soft, inviting place- that is a place for a child. The indians were smart.  How did we ever get so far away from our home? 

On that first drive i saw a bumper sticker with th' all to familiar saying- "Take nothing but pictures, Leave nothing but footprints." Many environmentalists are fond of this quote, but i wonder, where would we be if our ancestors thought this way? 

No where. Th' first people would've died and that would've been history. What about th' multiple factories it takes to make stickers and glue and ink, and th' cars that our stickers go on, did they take nothing but pictures? Did they leave nothing but footprints?  Though it's hard to see through th' synthetic life we've built, everything we need comes from the earth. We have to take- so we'll just have to learn to be thankful for what we take. There is no other way.  So we're thankful for th' new life we've been given, and we hope to impart to him all that we've found good in our life. Here's lookin at you kid.