The tour route for South x Southeast Art Tour 2019

South x Southeast Art Studio Tour

I’m thrilled and honored to be included as a vendor/artist for this art tour event. The Wild Ozark booth will be set up in the Education building at Terra Studios on March 30-31.

 

Print this flyer so you’ll know where all of the locations are. Here’s a link to an easy print ūüôā PRINT FLYER

Here’s the Facebook event page if you’d like to keep up with posts about this event. You can also learn more about the various participating artists here too.

Map of Kingston, AR 72742

Kingston, Arkansas?

There are some hidden treasures in the Ozarks. The tiny little town of Kingston, Arkansas is one of them.

The town itself is tiny, consisting only of a simple square with a gazebo in the middle for the “downtown” portion and across the bridge heading north there is the school and a gas station. That comprises the “uptown”.

Last I knew, the population was around 500. But most of the people live in the hills surrounding Kingston. And in those hills are a lot of crafty and artistic folks! You’ll see evidence of that if you stop in at some of the businesses in town the next time you’re passing through on your way to Ponca or Boxley.

What kind of business, you ask? Well, we have antique stores, a cafe, a gas station, a feed store, an old bank still using the old setup (take a look inside it), and an art gallery.

I’ve noticed that only the antique stores are said in plural. That’s a dead ‘small town’ giveaway to let you know just how small a town it really is.

Kingston Square Arts shop in Kingston, Arkansas.
Kingston Square Arts shop in Kingston, Arkansas.

Kingston Square Arts Shop (KSA)

Here’s a sampling of the kinds of things that are at the store:

 

Where the Heck is Kingston, Arkansas?

You’ll easily find it heading north on Highway 21 from Clarksville, AR (off of I-40) or by heading south on 21 (off of Hwy 412).

If you’re heading to Boxley or Ponca, you’ll already be in the vicinity.

KSA

Hours are 10-6, Thursday through Sunday.

Other than in the physical shop, you can find KSA on Facebook¬†and at the website (still working on that). I’m the web and social mistress of the shop, so I’ll often post pictures of the items Greg (the house potter) or Barb (the house fiber artist) is working on or interesting things in there that’s for sale, or new things that the artists and artisans bring in to sell.

If you spot anything you want, it’s okay if you’re not close enough to drop in. They ship! Just post on the image in the FB timeline to ask if it’s available and they’ll take it from there.

If you’d rather call, the phone number is¬†(479) 665-2559. The address is 100 Public Square, Kingston, AR 72742.

If you’re worried you won’t be able to find it, don’t be. If you can find the town of Kingston, you’ll find the square. And if you can find the square, you’ll definitely find the shop. It’s the big white store on the corner across from the post office.

Want to see some other places? Aside from KSA there are other things worth a stop in our tiny town.

Grandpa’s Antique Store

Maybe the only shop open on Sunday’s, Grandpa’s Antique store is on the square, too. If you have a pot missing a lid, whether cast iron or not, I bet you can find one to fit in Grandpa’s. There’s a lot of antiques and collectibles housed in this historic building, too.

The Bank

The bank is also a historic building. Pretty much all of the buildings on the square are. Inside the bank you can see the old tin ceiling tiles and the old bank vault. Both are in the lobby.

Others

There’s also a cafe (Waldron Valley Cafe), Bargain Buddy (antiques) the library (very small by most standards, but much larger than it used to be!), another antique store, and a new feed store. There’s a gas station just off the square to the north that also serves food.

I’ve probably left something out, so if you’re reading this and want to mention another spot to stop in our town of Kingston, Arkansas, or talk about the history of Kingston, just leave a comment and let everyone know!

How to Make Your Own Fairy Garden Pool

Make a Fairy Pool Fairy Garden Accessory

I make fairy gardens and fairy garden accessories for my market booth at the Fayetteville Farmer’s Market. Want to make a fairy pool? Here’s how I do it. I sell kits to make these (bringing them to market for the first time this weekend), but you can make it yourself by following these instructions below without the kit.

Feel free to improvise at any point and make something unique! Here’s a short video tutorial… I need to practice making better videos! Lucky for you, the more detailed instructions are below.

Supplies You’ll Need to Make a Fairy Pool

The little glass pebbles sold wherever garden and or craft supplies are sold make perfect foundations for tiny fairy pools. They come in various colors but I like the green and blue ones.

If you plan to make yourself plenty of these you’ll want to buy the materials individually. But if you want to make just one or two fairy pool accessories, I have kits available for $10. They contain everything except the tools you’ll need. All of the other materials (pebbles, stones, twigs, herb for moss, and a little piece of parchment) are included.

Make Your Fairy Pool

Start with a small piece of parchment paper. This makes everything you do later much easier because it doesn’t stick to the hot glue.

Place your glass pebble flat side down on the parchment.

Step 1 for How to Make a Fairy Pool

Begin gluing small stones around it. Try to finish with a flat stone slightly higher than the others so there’s a good surface to attach the diving board or pool deck.

Once you have all the stones where you want them, use the paintbrush to add the liquid glue over all the places where the hot glue shows up on the outside of your pool assembly.

Pile the herbs so they're ready to use after you brush on the glue.
Pile the herbs so they’re ready to use after you brush on the glue.

If you plan to put your pool in a moist environment like a terrarium, use an exterior glue.
If you plan to put your pool in a moist environment like a terrarium, use an exterior glue.

Dab the pool so that the glue picks up the loos green powdered herb. Rubbed sage works, but I use powdered sassafras leaf (gumbo file’) because it retains a fairly green color a lot longer than some of the other green herbs and it’s a finer powder. The ones in the photos above are using rubbed sage. The one below is one I made with the powdered sassafras leaf.

Closer view of Fairy Pool #1
Fairy Pool using powdered sassafras leaf for the ‘moss’ on the rocks.

The herb resembles moss on your rocks and looks a lot better than the hot glue.

Step 8 Dabbing the Herb

Step 9 Let it Dry
Let it Dry

Once the wet glue and herbs are dry you can use canned air to blow out the loose bits. Or just use your breath and give it a good puff or three.

Now it’s time to add the ‘water’ to the pool. Use the hot glue gun to fill the pool to the surface. Too add color you can shave some crayons to dye the glue. In this one I did not use the crayons so you can see the color without it. The blue glass at the bottom gives a blue cast but it’s a stronger blue if you add the crayon shavings.

Fill the fairy pool with hot glue to make it appear full of water.
Fill the fairy pool with hot glue to make it appear full of water.

 

Add Accents

After the hot glue is dried, add your finishing details! Want a diving board? You can make one from tiny twigs. Same for a deck. The only limitation is your imagination. I like to use jewelry wire to make curls for accents and handrails.

You can use sand to make a little ‘beach’ area.

Diving Board

Here’s the steps using the kit to make a diving board. You can use twigs to make this at home without the kit. Even with the kit you might have access to better twigs to suit your purpose more to your liking.

Flatten a short piece of twig using heavy pliers or wire cutters.
Flatten a short piece of twig using heavy pliers or wire cutters.

You may have to glue another small rock to make a good spot for the diving board to rest. Glue the diving board onto the pool.

Now make the ladder using more small twigs. Lay out two longer pieces, then add twigs for the rungs. It’s easier to glue the rungs if you leave the twigs long and then cut them after it has dried/cooled.

Making a Ladder for the Fairy Pool diving board
Leave the twigs long for the rungs until after the glue dries.

Then cut them all to the same length with wire cutters or snips.
Then cut them all to the same length with wire cutters or snips.

Attach the ladder to the diving board.

Ladder for Diving Board

Finishing Touches

Pretty much all done now unless you want to add a guard rail. There is one included in the kit. It may need to be bent or shaped to fit your specific diving board but you can use it however you like.

Finished Fairy Garden Pool
Finished Fairy Garden Pool

You can use a little more of the herbs to cover the glue on the ladder if you want.

Finished pool using my Make a Fairy Pool Kit

Let me know if you try to make one!

Closer view of Fairy Pool #1

Fairy Garden Accessories from Wild Ozark

Introducing my new line of Fairy Garden Accessories – all handmade and one-of-a-kind artwork to complement your fairy garden terrariums!

Market Mainstays

Fairy Gardens have been a mainstay for the Wild Ozark market booth this season. Now I’m starting to make accessories to go with fairy gardens for the people who like to create their own terrariums and fairy garden scenes.

Fairy Garden Accessories

All of my fairy garden accessories are one-of-a-kind. This means I’m making each one by hand and I’m not simply painting a resin mold-cast item.

I gather the rocks from the creek here at Wild Ozark. If there’s a water feature, that’s made with a combination of hot glue gun and crayon shavings. Where a mossy look is added, it is actually powdered dried sassafras leaf or other green-colored herbs.

Here’s the ones I’ll be bringing to market this week. These are ship-able, so I’ll add them to the online shop and Etsy if they don’t sell at market.

Fairy Pool

I’m also working on some kits for those who want to build their own pools. Let me know if this is something that interests you. If I’m quick about it, I might have some of the kits with me at the market tomorrow, but I still have a lot of other things I need to do. Might be next weekend before I can put them together.

Fairy Steps

Fairy Waterfalls

Here’s one of the waterfalls. I have another one made to bring to market too, but I’m out of time for editing photos and will just post this one for today:

OOAK Fairy Garden Accessories from Wild Ozark: Waterfall

Want to See Them Early?

Watch for more fairy garden accessories as I get them created. Usually I share progress pics on my Instagram and Facebook, if you’d like to follow me there.

See them in Person

If you’re in the northwest Arkansas area, you can see these at the market downtown on Saturdays and any I have left go with me for the day on Sunday at the Kingston Square Arts shop in Kingston, AR.

Share!

If you’ve bought one of my unique handmade items, send me a pic of your garden with it in there and I’ll share it to Instagram and FB!

A Week at Wild Ozark … No, I’m Not Lost

I’m just mired neck deep in a To-Do list of my own making, trying to get organized and into some sort of a groove now that market season has begun. Since I haven’t written in a while, I figured I’d write up a summary of a typical week at Wild Ozark.

This is my first year at the Fayetteville Farmer’s Market and it’s a true test of my ability to maintain production of my creative arts. I’ve never had to continously make new product before, and I’m definitely not complaining. But it is a new thing to figure out. I want to keep making new things, but need to continue making the things I know will sell, and I need to still have some sort of life aside from the act of trying to keep up.

The ‘some sort of life aside’ isn’t quite working out just yet, ha.

I’ve been doing a lot of things. I have not been blogging; that’s obvious. It’s been more than a week since my last post here and that is not a normal occurrence for me. My first website and blog post was in August of 2001. At the time my website was called ‘Ancient Earth Wisdom’. I wish I had kept that domain, but I let it go long ago. That was back in the day of hand coding with HTML. There was no such thing as a blogging platform like WordPress then. You can still see the old site at the Wayback Machine. Did you know that the internet has an archive like that?

Finally got the horses moved after weed-eating the fences for days.
Finally got the horses moved after weed-eating the fences for days.

Lately I’ve had to squeeze time in for playing catch-up around the house. Spring took off with a fury and the weeds and grass grew up around the electric fences for the horses. Finally got that cleared.

While out walking along the creek, I very nearly stepped on a rattlesnake. It’s been thirteen years since I moved here, and all those years I’m tromping around the woods and have never had such a near miss. Yesterday I ordered some snake boots for future tromping.

I haven’t been writing as much as I’d like to, but today I checked and saw that I sold 7 books! That’s more than I ordinarily sell in one day, ha, so it’s great news.

A Typical Week at Wild Ozark

Mondays

Once market season starts, the entire week has a predictable pattern. On Mondays if I’m proactive about it, I start building my stock for the following weekend. The main sellers are fairy gardens, and I’ve been making some new things to decorate them, like little waterfalls and stairs.

The Shagbark Hickory Syrup is also a good seller, but I still have to apply labels and shrink wrap, and pour up samples. So I try to get that done early in the week. On Monday if possible.

Tuesdays

Starting next week, Tuesdays are reserved for watching the grandkids. I’m looking forward to that, but I need to find a way to crunch everything else into the remaining days of the week. I’ve become a workaholic, so this break will be good for both me and the kids.

Wednesdays

Ordinarily I like to get the fairy gardens made on Wednesdays, and any ginseng seedlings that need to be potted done. This week, I went to the creek, watched better for snakes this time, and collected some gravel. I love the ones with red in them, but the Ozark creek gravel comes in all shapes and sizes and in lots of shades of colors. I’m using them to make the fairy garden accents.

Putting the Rocks to Use

We have a lot of rocks here, so I’m happy to find ways to use them. And here’s what I did with the rocks. The ‘moss’ is ground sassafras leaves. The ‘water’ is hot glue.

A 'moss-covered' waterfall for the fairy gardens.
A ‘moss-covered’ waterfall for the fairy gardens.

A set of 'moss-covered' steps for the fairy gardens.
A set of ‘moss-covered’ steps for the fairy gardens.

Here’s one of the finished fairy gardens with the steps added to it.

Fairy garden with moss-covered steps.
Fairy garden with moss-covered steps.

Potting up Seedlings

It’s the time of year when the ginseng seedlings are for sale, too. On Wednesday I try to get any seedlings that need to be potted done. They’re usually settled and ready to sell by Saturday, but the ones that are still not happy on Friday stay behind in the Recuperation Nursery Bed.

Thursdays

By Thursday I’m starting to panic because I’m not ready yet.

Fridays

On Friday it’s a mad rush trying to finish up and then before dusk, pack up the truck.

Saturdays

Saturday starts at 0300 when the alarm goes off and I moan and groan about getting up so early. By 0345-0400, I’m on the road to Fayetteville. On a good market day, I’m sold out of the fairy gardens by 11 am and most of the syrup samples are taken before then. For every two samples, I probably sell at least one bottle of syrup.

Sundays

On Sunday I work my shift at the new Kingston Square Arts shop. My Fairy Mushrooms and Forest Folk and books are there, so if you’re up for a nice day trip to the rural parts of our beautiful state, come to Kingston on a Sunday and say hello!

Starting all over again

Then it’s back to Monday again and the cycle starts all over. Notice I didn’t mention house or yard work much in my week. That has to be fitted in there somewhere, but it’s a struggle.

If anything unexpected arises during the week, it throws the entire schedule off kilter. My kids don’t seem to understand that I’m not ‘retired’, so when I need to watch the grandkids unexpectedly, it creates havoc with the ‘work week’. But I like to try and keep them on Tuesdays when I can. They like to help with things like gathering moss and rocks for the fairy gardens, and they love to make mushrooms from the clay with me.

So you might have a good idea of why I’m behind on blogging and newsletter writing now. Thank you for being out there, and thank you all who support me as an artist, writer, and person trying to make a living with my passions.

Yep this was a long post!

No telling when I’ll get a chance to write another post, so I figured I’d better make this one count. At least you can get an idea of what each day of the week is holding here at Wild Ozark, anyway. Fill me in on your doings!

Fairy Swing Mushrooms- New Nature Art from Wild Ozark.

Fairy Swing Mushrooms – A New Nature Art from Wild Ozark

Update as of 112118- I’m not making these very often anymore but there are still some in stock at Kingston Square Arts in Kingston, AR.

These adorable little fairy swing mushrooms are the latest creations from the Wild Ozark studio!

Each of the Fairy Swing Mushrooms are handmade and one of a kind (OOAK).

Rather than painting the caps, this time I decided to use something natural to add the color.

The mushroom caps are polymer clay infused and dusted with powdered sassafras leaf (filet’ gumbo herb) and cinnamon. Follow me on Instagram (@wildozark) to see the new ones as I make them.

Powdered sassafras leaf on the cap of this mushroom.
Powdered sassafras leaf on the cap of this mushroom.

The stem is made from an elephant garlic stem.

The cap on this one is colored with powdered cinnamon.
The cap on this one is colored with powdered cinnamon.

The fairy swing mushrooms are mounted on a small slab of shagbark hickory. It’s decorated with moss, lichens, dried rabbit tobacco flowers. Two of them have a vine tendril. The swings themselves are made from beebalm flower stems and a bit of leaf or grass for the seat.

The caps are made from polymer clay mixed with and coated with cinnamon and gumbo file' (sassafras leaf).
The caps are made from polymer clay mixed with and coated with cinnamon and gumbo file’ (sassafras leaf).

Here’s more, colored with cumin and trimmed with sassafras leaf powder.

The ones I haven’t sold yet will be with me on Saturdays at the Fayetteville Farmer’s Market. If I still have them when I get home, I’ll list them at Etsy and put them in our online shop here on Sunday (or one day soon). They can be shipped. Bring a little Wild Ozark nature home with you!

Prices start at $30.

From @cmwhitson: I got mine today, and the photo doesn’t do it justice. This is the cutest little mushroom swing EVER and I truly love it! It’s so delicate and wonderful, and thanks for using biodegradable peanuts to pack it. What an incredible artist you are!! ?

Follow me on Instagram (@wildozark) or FB to see the new ones as I make them. New ones are added almost every week.

Virginia Creeper seedling

Virginia Creeper Seedling in my Ebony Spleenwort Fern

There’s a Virginia creeper¬† (Parthenocissus quinquefolia) seedling creeping up toward the light in my spleenwort fern¬†(Asplenium platyneuron) container. I watched it for a few days with a suspicious eye as it unfurled, because I thought it might be a poison ivy.

Virginia Creeper

This isn’t one of my favorite plants. I’m only fascinated with it because I’ve never seen the creeper at this stage before. Actually, I did get online to make sure it wasn’t something else I suspected it could be, but the seedlings of that other plant look nothing like the seedling growing in my pot.

Virginia creeper seedling a little less zoomed. Virginia creeper seedling

Virginia creeper is the plant most often mistaken for ginseng. This seedling looks nothing at all like ginseng seedlings, though. Here’s what a ginseng seedling looks like on day 2:

Ginseng seedling day 2
A first year ginseng seedling the second day after unfurling.

I think I’ll keep my little seedling and bring it with me to my market booths for show and tell. But it’s going to have to get in its own pot soon.

Ebony Spleenwort

I need the little fern in its own pot, free of the creeper. These little ferns are called Ebony Spleenwort, and they adapt well to the fairy gardens in globes, bowls, and other containers. I do love these. They’re very plentiful here at Wild Ozark, but I’ll begin propagating them in woodland beds this year. That’s more sustainable than taking them from their wild homes.

Here's one of the Bowl Terrariums with a maturing Ebony Spleenwort growing in it.
Here’s one of the Bowl Terrariums with a maturing Ebony Spleenwort growing in it. I sell these as kits at my Etsy shop, and I’ll have them at the market booth this year.

Any plant with ‘wort’ in its name was once used for medicine. This fern was used for promoting menstruation and for chest congestion. The leaves are supposedly used as a tea. I have no plans to experiment with remedies using this plant. I like it for the fairy gardens mostly.

Vernal Witch Hazel

The other day I spotted some male flowers on the witch hazels down at the creek, but I didn’t have a camera on hand. I’ll try to get some pics of those before they disappear. That, too, is a new thing for me. Until Steven Foster posted his photo of one on FB the other day, I didn’t know witch hazel even had male and female flowers.

I think I may have missed the female witch hazel flowers on the vernal variety. I’m not sure how that happened, since I pass them everytime I go to town, but maybe I have been less attentive than usual in February. Or maybe they bloomed earlier and were knocked off by rain before I had a chance to see. No telling. I’ll try again next year.

Find us at the Fayetteville Farmers Market

I’m so excited! We just got the approval notification for our application to the Fayetteville Arkansas Farmer’s Market. This is a juried market. Last month we had an appointment with the review board. We brought our crafts for inspection – the fairy houses, fairy gardens, forest folk, and keepsake boxes. We have another review for the syrup and ginseng/woodland plants, but those are also fairly unique and so should be accepted as well.

The schedule? That I don’t know yet. Early in the season we’ll likely be there every Saturday starting March 31. Later in the season, they may boot us out to give space to the more tenured vendors with produce just coming in. Watch my schedule page or email me to inquire if you need to know whether we’ll be there on any given Saturday.

A bucket full of nature farming produce.

What Does a Nature Farm Produce?

Today I took a little hike after feeding the horses. I was on a mission to collect moss and lichen-covered branches. These are just some of the things the Wild Ozark Nature Farm produces.

And that’s how a nature farm works. I didn’t plant seeds, or till, or do anything at all to grow these products, I just have to collect them.

Resource Management

Maybe nature does all the work of growing the produce, but, I do have to be aware of how much stress my harvest places on the the resources being gathered. I do sometimes propagate some things, like the ferns, to make sure more of them grow to replace the ones I took.

I also propagate the woodland medicinals, like the ginseng, goldenseal, bloodroot, and cohosh. With ginseng I use seeds, but for the others I use root division or seeds.

A bucket full of nature farm produce.
A bucket full of nature farm produce.

I make sure I don’t gather too many of the ferns from an area, even where they are plentiful. When there is a large fern, I’ll only take part of it and leave behind half of the root mass to continue growing.

If it is an unusual fern, or one that won’t do well transplanted, I leave it alone. Likewise, I am careful with the gathering of moss and lichens. Moss, in particular, takes a good bit of time to regrow in some areas. For this reason, I’ll gather from a different area each year. This gives the moss time to repopulate before I go to that area again in a year or two.

We follow the same practice of rotation with the bark from the shagbark hickory trees. The bark is what we use for Burnt Kettle’s Shagbark Hickory Syrup.

With some things, like gumballs and acorns, there is very little chance at all of over harvesting. The same goes for the groundfall items I collect, like the lichen or moss-covered bark pieces that have dropped to the ground.

Nature Farm Produce

Today’s harvest included:

  • moss
  • lichens
  • rocks
  • ferns

Value Added Products

So after I collect the botanicals, I can either sell them like they are, or make something else with them. Just like a traditional farmer does with, for example, strawberries. Some people want to buy the strawberries fresh and some might like some jam.

With the moss, some like to buy it fresh and ready to use in their own DIY projects, and some might like a Wild Ozark Fairy Garden.

A bag of moss.
A bag of moss.

How to Store Fresh Botanicals Like Moss

For the moss in that bag in the photo above, I’ll put it in the vegetable drawer in the refrigerator. When packaged like this in a cellophane bag, the moss stays green and alive for weeks. If it will be longer than that before I use or sell it, I’ll take it out to get some light every once in a while.

I use the botanicals for various things.

  • The moss, to store ginseng rootlets and seeds

Packing the rootlets or the seeds on a bed of fresh, living green moss keeps them fresh far longer than without.

  • Moss and ferns, in Bowl Terrarium/Fairy Gardens

Bowl Terrarium

  • Moss and ferns, in glass globe fairy gardens

Our Fairy Gardens are available in round or teardrop globes.
Our Fairy Gardens are available in round or teardrop globes.

  • Everything, dried or preserved for use on the Forest Folk

Sorceress, a product from the Wild Ozark Nature Farm

  • Dried for use on the Fairy Houses

A wee little fairy house made from Wild Ozark nature farm botanicals.
A wee little fairy house made from Wild Ozark nature farm botanicals.

  • To sell as is to other crafters

Natural Habitats

The Wild Ozark Nature Farm provides lots of perfect habitat for growing plants like American ginseng. This endangered medicinal herb has a very narrow set of requirements to grow and I take full advantage of all the spots here that support it.

I sell the seedlings and sometimes the older plants at the farmer’s markets and also ship them out by mail.

4-Prong Ginseng with Red Berries

Other Nature Farm Products

Aside from the physical items directly related to growing or harvesting, the Wild Ozark Nature Farm also provides inspiration. I’m an author and artist and my work depends on this close contact with nature. Even my fiction draws on my relationship with nature.

Here’s my latest work of nature art, drawn from a photo I took of a green dragon plant here at Wild Ozark.

Green Dragon Drawing
Green Dragon Drawing. Prints available.

Thanks for Visiting

I hope you enjoyed this little tour through the nature farm. Every square inch of this 160 acres opens up worlds of possibilities and I can’t think of any other life I’d rather have!

Book a Forest Folk Workshop Near You!

Wild Ozark Forest Folk musicians and dancer.
The Musical Forest Folk (click to enlarge)

Want a Workshop Close to You?

If you’d like to host, or know somewhere good to have a workshop, get in touch. I’m willing to travel within 50 miles of Kingston, AR for groups of at least 10. Cost is $25/participant and I bring all the supplies with me, including the glue guns. For farther distances, travel compensation will also be required.

 

The Forest Folk Workshop

The workshop consists of people creating twig art with or without my assistance. My Forest Folk come with me for show and tell, and to inspire new works but participants can make whatever they want – and it doesn’t have to look just like mine. I’m there and ready to help or offer advice so participants can go home with a fabulous work of Forest Folk Nature Art.

I bring everything needed, including my collection of botanicals, like acorns, twigs, moss, preserved leaves, lichens, rocks. Participants browse through it all, choosing the pieces that “speak” to them, and then get to work.

Even the glue guns are provided!

Some of the participants brought items of their own for others to use, like seeds and acorns. As with any great art project, there was lots of glorious mess!

Forest Folk Workshop with Madison Woods at Ozark Folkways in Winslow, AR.
At a Forest Folk Workshop, if the table isn’t messy, we’re not having enough fun.

In a couple of hours there is a whole new civilization of Forest Folk on the table. Everyone goes home with a gorgeous hand-made work of nature art and I get to have a fun time making an artsy mess with some partners in crime!

The First Forest Folk Workshop

The first forest folk workshop took place in 2017 just before Christmas. A very big THANK YOU to John Ford from Ozark Folkways in Winslow, Arkansas for inviting me to do this. And by the way, if you have the opportunity, you should stop in to see all the magnificent art they have in that place.

The Ozark Folkways is an artisan center, a space for creatives to work and gather, but also a place for visitors to stop and see local art. Many of the works made by local artists are on display and for sale. Tremendous talents are living in our Ozarks!

Here’s some pics from the workshop.

 

 

Making Twig Art: Gumball Folk Bride and Groom

My granddaughter stayed the night with us last night and today I thought we could make some twig art together. She wanted us to make a bride and groom Forest Folk pair, so we went outside to gather some botanicals.

We picked up some gumballs from the sweet gum tree out front, along with a few acorn caps, and some sticks. Then we found a nice soft and fluffy feather that would work great for hair or hat. I had some dried wildflowers on hand and sumac berries, too.

The only other things necessary to make twig art with these botanicals were a glue gun, a pair of wire-cutter pliers, and tweezers. Tweezers are wonderful inventions that keep fingertips from getting burned in hot glue. I’m ashamed to admit it took several burns before I figured this out.

Gumballs, acorn caps, dried flowers, and a soft feather. Twig art supplies all spread out.
Gumballs, acorn caps, dried flowers, and a soft feather. Twig art supplies all spread out.

Making Twig Art

We made the very first Gumball Folk! All Gumball Folk are also Forest Folk.

Chloe’s not old enough yet to use the glue gun without burning her fingers, so I did all the putting to gether. She helped gather the gumballs and held some of the things while I added the glue.

The first thing I usually do is work on the head. If I’m going to add hair, I do that first.¬† We added some tiny glass eyes to these, too. Then I’ll cut a medium diameter twig for the body.

How the head is positioned on the twig depends on what the Folk is doing. Reading Folk usually have their faces tilted downward toward a book in hand. The Groom needed to be slightly looking down toward the Bride, who needed to look slightly upward toward the Groom.

Adding Details

Once the head is attached to the body, I’ll add the legs. I usually use a slab of hickory bark to mount the Folk on if they’re standing. This is a lot more stable than a twig figure standing alone.

Before I add arms, especially on the female figures, I’ll add the clothing around the hips and upper legs. That’s so much easier than trying to do it around fragile arms in the way.

This Gumball Folk Bride is wearing a grass and dried wildflower skirt accented with the red sumac (NOT poison sumac) berries.

The Gumball Folk Groom’s shoes are made from a wildflower seed cone cut in half. The seeds are gone from the plant and it left behind an interesting form, so I gathered them thinking I’d find a way to use them sooner or later. Worked great!

Which Botanicals to Use?

Sometimes I do use botanicals that could be harmful if eaten. But for a project with children, it’s best to use things that can’t cause trouble. None of my artwork is intended to be consumed, so I’m not really picky about what I use except I generally don’t use things I know to be dangerous.

But if it’s beautiful, natural, and not going to cause the plant population to decline if I use it, it’s fair game no matter what it is. Sometimes I’ll not harvest berries from plants that are in short supply here, so the seeds inside will have more opportunity to repopulate new plants.

The sumac berries I used on the Bride’s shoes and skirt are a good example.¬†This is not poison sumac, but an edible berry from a shrub called sumac.

Bride and Groom Gumball Folk.
Bride and Groom Gumball Folk. Check out their groovy little shoes.

Chloe took these prototypes home with her, so I’ll have to make some more soon so I can take some better photos.

These would make interesting nature art cake toppers for someone having an interesting wedding ūüėČ When the next ones are made and I get the photos, I’ll load it to Etsy so you can get a better look at them.

Twig Art Workshop

If you’d like to create some Forest Folk of your own and want some guidance, make plans to attend my workshop on Dec. 16 at the Ozark Folkways center in Winslow, AR. It’s just in time to make some for Christmas gifts!

The Wild Ozark shop at Etsy

Just a short post to let you know what I just listed over at the Wild Ozark shop at Etsy. The photos are linked to the listings.

Fairy Cup and Stand, $10 now at the Wild Ozark Shop at Etsy.
Fairy Cup and Stand, $10 at Etsy.

 

Forest Folk Reading Girl
Forest Folk Reading Girl, with chair for $35 at Etsy.

Here’s the page about the Forest Folk if you’d like to read more about them. I’m constantly working on new ones but I can only take the photos on days when it’s not too windy outside.

If you like to make crafty things and are local, you might like to join me in a workshop on making Acorn Folk in Winslow on Dec. 16 at Ozark Folkways.

I’ll try to update this post and republish it every once in a while with the current listings.

Please click through and visit and add them to your favorites, even if you can’t buy any right now. I’m not sure how Etsy’s search algorithms work, but that might help my things show up better on their site. Thanks in advance!

Test Firing the Native Clay – Failure and Success

Yesterday I posted about cleaning the native clay and the test firing I planned to do once they dried out enough.

I’m too impatient. I should have waited another day, maybe even longer because the clay was pretty wet when I first worked the little ball and circle.

They exploded to smithereens almost as soon as I put them in the coals.

Plan B

So, I pulled out the first test ball I’d made a while back. It was in storage in my studio/office and I KNEW it would be dry. I had already fired it for a short amount of time last winter. I hoped this would compare to a “bisque” firing, because what I planned to do with it would test the limits.

It wasn’t as smooth and I hadn’t burnished it, but it was made the same clay. This was just one of the small clean clay lumps in the chunk, so it hadn’t gone through the sieves and process the others had.

Test Firing and Pushing the Limits

I opened the wood stove, made a nice little bed of glowing embers, where the previous test pieces had been but now were nowhere to be found, put the test ball in the embers and covered it with more hot coals.

Test firing underway, and quiet so far. Unlike the previous episode that sounded like fireworks going off inside the wood stove. Whew.

When the little ball became red hot I pulled it out with the tongs and dropped it into cold water as if I were making a Raku pot and ducked for cover.

It survived!

This was once the same color as the test pieces I just blew to smithereens in the test firing.
This was once the same color as the test pieces I just blew to smithereens in the test firing. It was not as smooth or “finished” as the original test piece.

Now it has some blackened areas and some rust colored area and I like it. More tests to come once the new pieces dry much longer. Very encouraged in spite of this little setback. I learned some things!

More Stress Testing

Next I wanted to know if I could drill into it with my Dremel tool. Sometimes I just need to put a hole into pieces I’m working with. If I’d think of it before firing, I could just put the hole in before the clay hardens.

Anyway, it did take the drilling okay. I lost my grip on it for a second and it twisted, resulting in a flake chipping off of it, but not too bad.

After the test-firing, I wanted to put a hole in the top of this so I could insert the stem and glue it. Now, this little "Folk" will have an interesting hair piece made from the clematis seedpod.
After the test-firing, I wanted to put a hole in the top of this so I could insert the stem and glue it. Now, this little “Folk” will have an interesting hair piece made from the clematis seed pod.

So that’s it for the reporting on my experiments for now. Tomorrow we’ll be at AFIC cooking more of our Burnt Kettle Shagbark Hickory Syrup. Then I’ll be getting ready for the market.

Market Plans

I’m not planning to bring my Forest Folk out again because they’re too fragile to keep boxing them up and setting them out, then reboxing and bringing them home over and over. If you want one and want me to bring it to market for you, just email me. Most of the market-goers are there for vegetables and bread, and crafts just aren’t doing very well, anyway.

If you’d like some hands-on fun at a Forest Folk Workshop, plan to attend in Winslow on December 16.

Next round of tests

Here’s the two I fired yesterday on 11/3/17. The one in the back hasn’t been fired yet. The one on the left was burnished before firing and the black one on the right was not. Both were dropped into water as soon as I pulled them from the fire. Both performed exceptionally! I can’t wait to make more things.

The second set of test pieces - they survived!
The second set of test pieces – they survived!

Forest Folk Workshop at Ozark Folkways – Nature Art

We’re having a Forest Folk Workshop at Ozark Folkways!

Do you want to join me & make your own Forest Folk?¬† It’s a wonderful way to connect with nature and tap into your imagination.¬†¬†December 16 is the date to put down for this workshop at Ozark Folkways in Winslow, Arkansas.

Come make some nature art. You’ll be in for a morning of crafting fun with natural, locally gathered botanicals and free-rein creativity. All materials provided, just bring yourself and your imagination!

 

How to Sign Up:

I think if you click on the embedded post, it’ll take you to the event on Facebook. If you’re not on FB but want to sign up, you can do so from the Ozark Folkways website by clicking here to go to the Forest Folk Workshop.

When Where and How Much

When: December 16, 2017 from 9 am to noon.

Where: Ozark Folkways in Winslow, AR (22733 N Highway 71
Winslow, Arkansas 479-634-3791 )

Cost:¬† $25/person and includes all the supplies you’ll need to make a Forest Folk creation of your own to take home.

Might be a good idea to go on and sign up if you know you want to attend. The class is limited to 15 and may sell out.

 

We'll be having a Forest Folk Workshop on Dec. 16th!

Rambling On about the To-Do List

Lots of things on my to-do list today, and I guess I should be getting on with *doing* them instead of rambling on about them.

But talking about it like this helps me to figure out what all I need to do. Plus in the process, it marks off one of the items, which is to make a blog post.

With Fall coming in so strong now with colors and cool temperatures, it’s hard for me to stay focused on my list. What I’d like to be doing right now is walking around with a bucket and my camera.

Camera might be self-explanatory. But why the bucket?

I’ve been making crafty things with all the pretty things on the ground at this time of year. Leaves, moss, lichens, driftwood, dead wood … you name it. If it’s on the ground and portable and small, then it goes into my bucket of botanicals.

Some botanicals from the last gathering foray.
Some botanicals from the last gathering foray.

The To-Do List

Today’s most pressing item on the to-do list is to make more Forest Folk. But I’ve already gathered enough things during the weekend that just passed to make plenty without having to go out for more.

My clay-cleaning experiment from last week failed because I missed an important step, so cleaning some more clay is on the list for one day this week. I want to use the natural clay to make the heads of more of the Forest Folk. These won’t be “Acorn” folk, but I’ll have to come up with another name. “Earthy” Folk, I think.

That’ll have to go on a later to-do list.

I ran an ad on FB for the Forest Folk, so I hope some do make it out to the market. Which is why I want to make more.

Just in case the ad worked.

Last week I made more ginseng jelly, but I have a lot more to make this week. I need to take some new product photos for it, since it’s packaged a little differently than last year’s.

Not sure how many will brave the new cold weather we’re supposed to get on¬†Saturday.

We’re all back on track with our shagbark hickory syrup adventure. Now it has a new name: Burnt Kettle. We had to form a new business just for the syrup and any future food items, separate from our Wild Ozark or Madison Woods business.

Otherwise we wouldn’t have been able to get food liability insurance. But we have it now. Marked that off the list early this morning. We have a new logo to go with that name, too.

Burnt Kettle logo for shagbark hickory syrup

Marked at least one thing off the to-do list: Burnt Kettle is insured now!
Marked at least one thing off the to-do list: Burnt Kettle is insured now!

 

Anyway, I need to get on with the doing part of my To-Do List. What’s on your list for today?

Some botanicals from the last gathering foray.

Acorn People are a Great a Way to Justify Collecting Things

I’ve been creating Acorn People as a way to justify my obsessive habit of collecting things I find while roaming around outside.

Now I can pick up fossils, moss, lichens, leaves, twigs, and acorns and never feel a moment of uncertainty about my sanity.

I’ve been calling them Acorn Folk.

And they’re gorgeous little beings!

The Acorn Folk are part of the Forest Folk society. Fairies, pixies, gnomes, and all of the other woodland creatures that prefer to live in the shady forests belong to the same group.

Here’s the latest addition of the acorn people. She’s the Acorn Folk Sorceress, partner to the Wizard. I made the Wizard yesterday. If the pics don’t open full-size, click on them to see it larger.

As I make a new Forest Folk characters, I’ll add them to the Wild Ozark online shop, but I’m behind in my listings. I also add them to¬†my Etsy shop. Please drop in over there and follow the Wild Ozark shop. Some of them are also at Tina’s Place on the Square in Kingston, AR.

As soon as I get caught up, I’ll start posting how I make these things so you can try it too. Or you can start out just looking at these and modeling your own to be like them.

In the meantime, here are some pics of the others.

Pixies – Miniatures by Madison Woods

Pixies are the most elusive of the unseen creatures that live at Wild Ozark. They live around you, too.

Most likely you’ve only seen the effects of them because they’re solitary creatures, working quietly in the background of nature, wherever that nature occurs.

There are pixies in the cities and in the rural areas and in the wilderness.

Pixies are Shy

They’re solitary creatures and prefer not to interact with humans if they can help it.

For a while I’ve been mulling over creating something involving pixies. Here’s a little bit about them that I’ve learned since we moved out here to the wilds.

Most of them work at things involving nature.

Lack of respect is their number one complaint. People just don’t consider them important. While they don’t want the attention, they are a bit jealous that elves and fairies get all the admiration.

All pixies have important jobs to do in the wilds and even urban settings.

They do not have the ethereal look of fairies.¬† By nature, they aren’t “beautiful”.

Most of them are literally close to the earth (short), and because of that they’re often are dirty little things. Not all of them have wings but they can all appear and disappear at will.

The mechanism of their ability to move quickly from one place to another nearby place without walking is not understood. I think it is magic.

Some of them, the ones that tunnel through the ground like moles, have double rows of teeth and can be quite frightening to the uninitiated. I have a short story about one of the more troublesome types of pixies. It’s a free story at most ebook retailers (except Amazon).

I decided to begin my crafting with one less intimidating.

Handmade Pixies by Madison Woods

This is Helga, the first of her line. She’s a mushroom gardener. Her hair is made from dried moss. In one hand she holds a shiny bauble (pixies love shiny baubles) and with the other she keeps her acorn cap basket balanced.

Helga was the first of the pixies ever created at Wild Ozark.
Helga was the first of the pixies ever created at Wild Ozark.

Inside the basket there are mushroom “seeds”. The set also includes a feather-lined leaf cloak for her to cover herself with while napping or wear over her head, a bauble on a stand and three mature mushrooms.

Unique Works of Art

Each creation is unique and each have their own name. The mushroom gardeners will all have the same accessories, but they’ll look a little different from each other. Well, as I get better at crafting them, they’ll look a lot different from poor original Helga.

Here’s Annabelle, under construction at the time of this photo.¬† She’s the second of her line, and also a Mushroom Gardener.

Freshly sculpted pixie in need of hair.
Freshly sculpted pixie in need of hair.

Annabelle with her basket of mushroom seeds. She's the second of the Wild Ozark Pixies.
Annabelle with her basket of mushroom seeds.

Here she is with her garden. Pixies use the baubles because they reflect light and they like the shiny flashes.

Annabelle tending her mushroom garden.
Annabelle tending her mushroom garden.

Each Wild Ozark Pixie set comes boxed and ready to relocate to your house. The terra cotta plate and moss are not included in mail orders, but if you pick a set up from the market booth, it is part of the package.

If you’d like to order a set of your own or for someone you know who loves nature and believes in the unseen world around us, let me know.

Your pixie will be created at the time of your order and won’t look exactly like these, but will have her or his own personality. You can request male or female and skin color.

Boxed sets make great gifts!
Boxed sets make great gifts! Website prices are discounted compared to Etsy’s listings.

To get it in time for Christmas you’ll need to order soon. If the response to this is unusually high, I’ll only take as many orders as I can be sure to complete in time.

These are backed by a 100% satisfaction guarantee. If you don’t love this little pixie (yours will be individual and won’t be identical to the one pictured, though it’ll have the same basic content), I’ll take it back and refund your money.

Keepsake Box Giveaway | Rob’s Woodworking Shop

Sorry, but the giveaway has already taken place in October 2017. You can still sign up for the newsletter, but it’s going to be a while before he’s back in the shop. Rob’s working an overseas contract until 2019. I’ll let you know when he starts cutting wood again, though!



 

2017 Farmers Market Schedule

I decided to just update the schedule on my “appearances page“. Please check there for the latest dates. The link to get there is¬†https://www.wildozark.com/appearances-workshops-herb-walks-presentations/¬†

Schedule of farmers markets & events

5/26/17 –¬†Friday

I’ll be in Jasper, for a change of venue.¬†¬†I’ll have a couple of older ginseng plants (2 yr and 3 yr plants), ginseng seedlings, ginseng jams, books, and nature art and cards. If it’s very windy, I’ll keep the ginseng inside the high-walled tote, so ask if you don’t see them if you come by. Also, if you want fresh-roasted coffee beans, I’ll have that with me too. Oh – and an item I keep forgetting to bring but is wonderful: Amazing Sting Oil! This stuff works to keep poison ivy from itching so badly, will bring down the pain and sting and swelling of wasps and hornets, too. I made some up by dissolving frankincense tears in fractionated coconut oil after my daughter told me how good it worked for her when a hornet stung her on the lip.

5/23/17 – Tuesday

Cancelled due to rain, even though now it seems as if it might not rain very much after all. I can’t pack the night before if rain chances are high because too many of my items will be ruined if it gets damp. This morning, it was raining a little, so I cancelled out.

5/16/17 – Tuesday

I’ll be in Huntsville at the Farmer’s market from 7-12. This week I’ll have a couple of older ginseng plants (2 yr and 3 yr plants), ginseng seedlings, and possibly some Heritage red raspberries if they’re ready after transplanting to the pots. Also will have ginseng jams, books, and nature art and cards. If it’s very windy, I’ll keep the ginseng inside the high-walled tote, so ask if you don’t see them if you come by.

5/2/17 – Tuesday

I won’t be there this week. The recent weather made crossing the creek to get to the nursery too difficult and it’s been far too windy to pot up more tender seedlings. As of right now, I do plan to be there next week on the 9th, but check back in case more weather or unexpected circumstances happen!

5/6/17- Pot 5 Get 1

The recent flooding has made our driveway nearly impassable except for trucks. If you plan to come to the Pot 5 Get 1 event this weekend, be sure to let me know! If no one RSVP’s, then I may not be out there if someone unexpected shows up. The nursery isn’t near the house, so unless I know someone is coming, I won’t be down there the whole time.

General Info

The Farmers Market in Huntsville (AR) will open on Tuesday, April 11. It’s early this year! Many of the vendors must already have crops ready to sell. I am going to be fairly bare-boothed for a few more weeks.

I won’t have ginseng so early, though. It’ll be May before I start bringing the plants to market. We’ll be there every Tuesday. Once the ginseng is ready, we’ll be there some Saturday’s also.

However, I will have other items. When I see what sells best, I’ll adjust what I bring more of accordingly. Art generally does not seem to sell so much at farmers market venues, but I’m experimenting with a couple of different forms of it to see if that makes a difference.

Nature Art Cards

I’ve searched high and low to source the materials for my cards from companies in the US. These are 100% Made in the USA cards. The paper, ink, and art was all created right here in the United States. The cards are fine art paper and are blank inside with a drawing assemblage on the front made from one of my original works of art mounted on kraft paper.

Nature Art Note Cards by Madison Woods
Available directly from me, and coming soon to the Westwood Garden Nursery stores in northwest Arkansas.

Nature Art Prints

Tree Priestess will make her debut at the Huntsville Farmers Market this year.
Tree Priestess

I’ll have a few of the 5 x 7 or 4 x 6 prints of the Tree Priestess, and Slug on Poison Ivy. I’ll have others when my printing supplies come in. The paper I usually order is out of stock and other than that one favorite brand and type, I’m not sure what else to use. It’s too expensive to try and have it fail in the printer to just pick another. So more research is in order for that if my trusted supplier doesn’t restock.

Jams

While supplies last, which I suspect won’t be long, I’ll have some of the ginseng jams left. I will have other jams and jellies as I get them made, including red onion marmalade, wild plum jelly, and blackberry if it’s good seasons for the wild fruits this year.

Fairy Gardens

Our latest product creation is these adorable homestead fairy habitats. Going through shipping trials now! Sign up for the newsletter or watch the blog to know when they're listed in our Boutique.

I’ll have a couple of the fairy gardens, but again, I’m out of the globes for them and need to order more. Basically, I need to make some money before I can order all the things I’m short on, so hopefully the opening day will bring cash flow, too.

Books

I’ll have some of the ginseng look-alikes guide, at least, on opening day. The book order with the rest of my books won’t be here until the following week, though.

What Else?

That’s about it for my lineup. I’m not sure what everyone else is bringing, but it should be a good variety of things this year. The Huntsville Farmers Market has grown to more than 10 vendors, from what I hear, so it will be fun! Come out to see what else is there, and say hello to me while you’re ¬†at it.

Ginseng Seedlings for Sale! At the Huntsville Farmer’s Market on Tuesday

Market Day April 18, 2017

I’m just going to update and repost this same market page each Monday night before market.

Tomorrow I’ll have ginseng seedlings, a couple of older ginseng plants, and various companion plants including blue cohosh, doll’s eyes, bloodroot, ¬†and maidenhair fern.

Ginseng Companion Plants ready for market day.
Ginseng Companion Plants ready for market day. Pic may be sideways because it’s from my phone and I can’t figure out how to make it stay upright in WordPress, lol.

I’ll also have the books, art, and ginseng jams.

Hope to see you there!

April 11, 2017

The Huntsville (Arkansas) Farmers Market 2017 season is set to begin. Tomorrow (Tuesday, April 11) is the first market day this year.

Wild Ozark will be there, but it’s too early for plants. Tomorrow we’ll have ginseng jam, winter crud/cough syrup (jam), books, and nature art cards and drawings. If I can find a way to pack it in the car, I might bring my herb hanger.

Next week I should have some plants ready to go, including ginseng seedlings.

If you’re in the area stop in and say hello!

It's market day tomorrow! Wild Ozark's Market booth
I might not have the banner hanging until I get more grommets, but look for the tan top and green curtains ūüôā

Ginseng Jams & Nature Art Cards on a Chilly Day

I’ll be in the Kingston square with the Wild Ozark booth on Saturday selling ginseng jams, nature art, and fairy gardens.

Ginseng Jams from Wild Ozark can only be purchased from us directly. No mail orders allowed under the AR Cottage Food Law.
The premier ginseng jam, golden in color and sweet, mild flavor. Great on toast or crackers to start your day.

Chilly Day

For weeks it’s been warmer than usual and so I decided I’d set up the Wild Ozark booth on the Kingston square this weekend to take advantage of some of that nice weather.

So of course now it’s going to be ordinary for February weather. Tomorrow’s high is supposed to be around 45*F, which I suppose is still fairly warm for a winter day.

But it’s not the balmy 70 we’ve been seeing.

Bringing out the Ginseng Jams

Anyway, I’m going to take the booth out there anyway. I’ll have ginseng jams, nature art cards, nature drawing prints, a couple of Wild Ozark Fairy Garden terrariums, and a few books.

Rural Fantasy Fiction

One of my books that I won’t have with me is going to be free at Amazon this weekend. It’s First Hunt, the complete first book of the Bounty Hunter series.¬†The title at Amazon, as of the time I’m making this post, still says “Part One” on it, but that will hopefully update soon. It’s saved to Amazon, but they haven’t changed it yet.

First Hunt, book one of the Bounty Hunter series by Ima Erthwitch.I’d first released it in parts, but revised the Amazon listing to only list this one instead. If you do get the download while it’s free, please let me know if it still ends at “part one”. When I use the “Look Inside” feature, it shows me the whole book. But when I order the free sample, it still only shows me part one.

At first I thought doing it in 25,000 word parts would be a good idea. But then when it came time to figure out what to do with all the parts once the novel was published, I decided I won’t be doing it that way anymore.

First Hunt takes the reader from Treya’s beginnings with ARSA and follows through the first kill on her first assignment. I’m working on the second book now, tentatively titled “Twice Dead”.

There will be a third kill, but I won’t call the last one “Third Dead”, lol. I think it’ll be called “Grub Stage” instead. The concept of the series is that the ARSA bounty hunters kill their targets three times to force them into lower incarnations. Grub Stage is the lowest and is reserved for the worst criminals.

An Herbal Remedy for Winter Crud featuring Mullein, Ginseng, Beebalm, and Echinacea

Here’s my recipe for an herbal remedy I use every year to combat what we’ve come to call “Winter Crud”. We also take it at the first sign of anything that feels like trouble coming on. This year’s formula uses mullein, echinacea, ginseng, and beebalm. I’ll update and repost this every year to tell you which herb’s I’m using and whether I’ve changed anything about how I’m making it.

My recipe for this year's Winter Crud syrup.
click to enlarge or print

Ugh. Winter Crud

I’m sure there’s a real name for it, but I don’t know what it is. We just call it the “winter crud” or “creeping crud” or “that *bleeping*¬†cough that lingers forever”. I don’t usually go to the doctor because I’m worried that there might be even more serious ailments lurking inside the office waiting room than the one currently plaguing me. So I generally rely on my trusty herbal allies unless it’s acute or serious.

The symptoms are always the same: deep congestion that’s hard to cough up, sometimes a low fever for a day or two at the beginning, and a few weeks of long-lingering congested cough.

Inevitably someone in the family gets it. Usually the whole household gets it. And so I like to have it ready to go. Most years I make extra for Christmas gifts, but this year I procrastinated too long.

My reservations

Generally I don’t blog much about my herbal remedies because it feels like slippery ground when it comes to sharing that information outside my own little network of like-minded family and friends. But I’ve really had great results with this one and thought I’d share.

Please make sure you research these herbs to find out if they’re suitable for you and your conditions. Just the sugar alone is enough to send a diabetic into crisis.

I am not a doctor and am not prescribing or advising you to try this remedy. I’m just sharing how I make it and what I use it for. If you want me to make some for you, though, I will do that. See the link at the bottom of this post.

Dried mullein and echinacea root getting ready to decoct.
Took the photo before adding the ginseng. Dried mullein and echinacea root getting ready to decoct.

The Ingredients

The precise list of ingredients I use for anything at all changes according to what I managed to gather the summer and fall before.

Today’s ingredient list for this year’s Winter Crud syrup features wild American ginseng root (Panax quinquefolius), mullein leaves (Verbascum thapsus), beebalm flower, stem, and leaf (Monarda fistulosa), and echinacea root, leaf stem, and flower (Echinacea purpurea).

Wildcrafting

All of the herbs except the cinnamon were responsibly foraged from right here at Wild Ozark. I never take more than a small percentage of ginseng (or any other roots) from a colony. When taking flowers, I always leave half behind for the pollinators. There is no shortage of mullein anywhere so I am less concerned with conservation of that herb.

I had blackberry syrup on hand from a failed batch of jelly this past summer, so I’m using it for the sugar content and for flavor. You can skip that ingredient and add back a cup of sugar to the recipe.

The Most Important Ingredient

The syrup must have mullein for it to be useful for this remedy at all, and thankfully mullein is easily found almost all year long here. I think the beebalm and ginseng also add a lot to the effectiveness. But if all I had was mullein, I’d go with it. And if sugar is an issue for you, it works just as well as a decoction alone. You’ll have to use it within a few days because the sugar is a preservative. It just won’t taste as good, but it’s a tolerable flavor.

I give instructions on how to make a decoction in my book 10 Common Plants Worth Knowing, but that one is for witch hazel tonic. ¬†Here’s a procedure for the mullein decoction recipe ¬†you can download. It’s in PDF format. Just save it to your hard-drive or print it out.

I’d love it if you’d “pin” it to Pinterest for me:

Wild Ozark's Mullein/Beebalm decoction procedure

Mullein needs to be strained more thoroughly than most other herbs because of the hairs on the leaves. Make the decoction with the mullein, ginseng, and echinacea roots. Then add the leafy parts of herbs in the last phase of making the decoction, just before the final reduction.

DIY?

You could make it yourself and it’s a great project to do so. If you try it and need to ask questions just email me. If you don’t have the ingredients or don’t want to spend a day stirring the cauldron, you can buy a pint from me.

Slugs and Dragons and Ginseng, Oh My! Wild Ozark Creations

I’ve been working on a few new Wild Ozark creations lately. This creative streak seems to have no end in sight, either, because ideas just keep coming and I keep feeling compelled to follow them through.

Slugs

This is the latest drawing I’ve done. The digital and print rights (for business branding, not art prints) and print #1/100 have been sold already, but there are still 99 prints available. I had so much fun doing this drawing, because it made me see poison ivy and slugs in an entirely new light. Whoever knew the two of them could be beautiful together?

Slug on Poison Ivy
Slug on Poison Ivy

Dragons

I’ve been photographing a particular green dragon (Arisaema dracontium) over the past few years, trying to get good photos of all the various phases. A couple of years ago, I even had seeds that I’d gathered from it sprout.

So I was finally able to complete a creative thing that’s been waiting a long time – The Dragon Life Storyboard:

A poster showing the growth phases of a green dragon plant.
A poster showing the growth phases of a green dragon plant.

You can get this poster at our Wild Ozark Redbubble shop: https://www.redbubble.com/people/wildozark/works/22836244-story-of-the-dragon. If you know any science teachers who might like to decorate a classroom, send them my way!

You can read more about Green Dragons on one of my earlier posts.

Ginseng

So then I thought, “Well, I can’t have a dragon storyboard without a ginseng one too!”

Story of Ginseng
Story of Ginseng

Pressed Leaves

And for ginseng I also have been making pressed leaves. Some of them are laminated so they’re durable enough to take to the woods. Some I’ll mount on fine art paper for framing. Only the laminated ones are posted to the shop so far. They’re $10.

Mature ginseng leaf prong

Fiction

I’ve been working on my novel and am getting excited by how it’s going. Here’s the story line for that:

Bounty Hunter is a rural adventure fantasy set in post-collapse northwest Arkansas. There’s a rift in the Universal fabric that the Feds aren’t telling anyone about, but it’s the main reason martial law is still in effect. Treya is training to be an assassin for ARSA, a covert government agency headquartered in Bentonville. Punishment isn’t that the criminals are put to death. It’s that they’re killed three times to force them into successively lower incarnations. Treya has to learn how to use her innate gifts that enable her to track a person throughout their incarnations, whether they’re human or not.

Your Turn!

So tell me what projects you’ve been working on? Send links if you have posts about them or Etsy listings or whatever and I’ll link to them. My email address is [email protected]

 

Balanced Asymmetry and Order in Chaos in Nature, Work, and Art

Note: an edited and better composed version of this is posted over at Medium.

I’ve been in a crafty mood lately. It’s probably safe to say I’m always in a crafty mood. ¬†I think I’ve finally figured out why.

I like balanced asymmetry and order in chaos. Noticing when these states occur and capturing them in art or photography, or creating things bring order to chaos in a satisfying way.

I Like Seeing Results

That’s the thing about crafting – results. I love seeing order brought from chaos, order within chaos, and balanced asymmetry.

It started recently with the rocked in culvert. Well, it started long ago, probably when I was born. But the most recent bout of craftiness urges started with this culvert.

 

Before and After the Culvert Wall

I like to see the results of my work. Work that never comes to fruition, or never ends with a sense of balance is frustrating. Housekeeping is that sort of work. The house is rarely clean and orderly long enough to see the end result for more than a few minutes.  And as soon as I glance another direction, I see the same job waiting again!

I would be a very bad production worker because of this unless I got to put on the finishing pieces. I have worked these sorts of jobs before, so I know that I don’t like it and when it comes right down to it, the lack of “finished result” satisfaction is why.

In those positions when I worked on specific projects (like the 245 Startup at Honeywell in 2002), I did get a sense of completion when we brought the unit online, even if I was only a small part of that project. My work contributed to a finished product that I was able to witness. I liked that.

Balanced Asymmetry

I like symmetry, but I like balanced asymmetry more. Symmetry by itself does nothing to spark my sense of wonder. Asymmetrical things without a balance to them just look chaotic and are unsatisfying.

Everything I really enjoying seeing in nature, like sunsets, moonrises, forest paths, etc. are all asymmetrical studies. ¬†The clouds that frame the moon look best when they’re asymmetrical. Sunbeams filtering down between limbs of a tree on an early morning are not equally distributed across the entire scene. If fact, the very non-uniformity in where and how they appear is what makes them so breathtaking.

a study in balanced asymmetry

Building a rock wall using native stone is an exercise in learning to balance in an asymmetrical way.

The whole is balanced. This is not one of my rock walls, by the way. This is an old one that’s been here on this earth for possibly¬†longer than me.

This rock wall is a perfect example of balanced asymmetry and organized chaos.
This rock wall is a perfect example of balanced asymmetry and organized chaos.

The parts are not.

The rock pile for culvert retaining wall.
The rock pile for culvert retaining wall.

Order to Chaos

There are some who say it is not possible to have chaos and order at the same time.

I say you can. Sometimes.

A pile of rocks is a static sort of chaotic thing.

A pile of asymmetrical rocks even more so.

But when the chaotic tumble of asymmetrical rocks are stacked, sometimes an organized balance can be achieved. That is an example of bringing order to chaos.

Orderly Chaos

Orderly chaos is a different thing. Orderly chaos is a lot like asymmetrical balance.¬†I also think whether something is chaotic or orderly depends on the viewer’s perspective.

To the person who just bumped into the hornet’s nest, the swarm of hornets attacking feels pretty chaotic.

But that swarm is actually very orderly, a whole chaotic mess of stinging insects all bent on achieving the same goal: to kill or run off an intruder.

I see order and chaos side-by-side and even occupying the same spaces all the time. A glance at the news is full of speculation fodder for this topic.

What seems like a chaotic world right now probably has a lot of order to it if we can back off far enough to view it from a distant perspective, both literally and figuratively.

Balanced asymmetry and orderly chaos in Crafty things

My latest creation is a dreamcatcher.

balanced asymmetry in my dreamweaver
This example of balanced asymmetry is for sale at Wild Ozark’s online shop ūüôā

It’s pretty asymmetrical too, but is also balanced. The weaving is probably still chaotic in appearance to some, but there’s order in there now, in spite of the chaos that ensued before I was done with it.

It’s definitely asymmetrical. But the whole thing is balanced in spite of that.

Balanced Asymmetry.

Same deal with a website I’m creating. To someone viewing only the parts of this creation, it might seem terribly chaotic. It seems that way to me, too, sometimes.

But eventually all the parts start working together and it becomes yet another example of balanced asymmetry. And of order in chaos.

Things that are both Symmetrical and Asymmetrical at the Same Time

A lot of things probably fall into this category, but the one I see most often and notice happens with plants. Ginseng is a good example.

This goldenseal plant is balanced even though it is very asymmetrical.

 

goldenseal with red berry - Signed & Numbered prints are available now!
Signed & Numbered prints are available now!

On the vertical plane, it’s asymmetrical. However, if ¬†sliced horizontally, it is symmetrical.

Your Thoughts?

Have you noticed yourself attracted to more symmetrical things and only clear-cut order, or are you like me and fascinated with the balance between asymmetrical and ordered chaos?

A Wild Roast Coupon for Mother’s Day

Let the Wild Roast begin!

Oh yeah ūüôā I’m getting ready this morning for a full day of aromatic and sumptuous coffee roasting. Mmmmmm-Mmmmmmmm all the locals will soon get to try some of our delicious¬†Wild Roast.

Our "Wild Roast Blend", Ginseng Coffee from Wild OzarkWe’ll have these Wild Roasts on Saturday:

  • Peru Aprocassi
  • Congo Kivu
  • Guatemala Ceylan
  • Tanzania Peaberry

You can get whole bean or ground, with and without ginseng leaf added at the Kingston Fair on the Square! It won’t be “ready to drink” but I’ll have samples of the grinds there to smell-taste.

Organic and/or Fair Trade

With the exception of the Tanzania Peaberry, all of our coffee is either organic or Fair Trade and most of the time both. Some, like the Guatemala Ceylon, is also Rainforest Alliance Certified as well.

Add a Little Pep

We love ginseng leaf in our morning brew. The leaf has all the same properties as ginseng root (American) but the harvest doesn’t kill the plant. That’s why I like using leaf more than root whenever possible. There will be ginseng & coffee blend available on Saturday.

The stimulating, balancing & restorative ginsenosides in ginseng are a great¬†complement to the energizing caffeine in coffee, but ginseng is a medicinal herb and you should ask your doctor or do some research to make sure it’s safe for you.

Just the Coffee Please

We’ll have blends available with ginseng leaf and plenty of Wild Roast without it for those who just want the coffee.

Save a Buck

Bring in your Wild Roast coupon and get your Mom some delicious coffee roasted right here at Wild Ozark. Print-n-Clip or save the coupon to your iPhone and bring it by to get a dollar off of any of the coffees:

Mother's Day coupon for a Wild Roast from Wild Ozark
Clip or save to your phone!

Update from Wild Ozark

Lots of things going on – or rather, NOT going on lately.

If you’re a subscriber to my monthly newsletter, you’ve probably already seen the update that I won’t be doing the farmer’s market this year. I forgot to add some of the items below to the newsletter, so this post is not a complete repeat of the email.

I dislocated my knee on Thursday this past week, the day after we got home from our Texas – Louisiana trip. Although nothing is broken, that was a pretty traumatic event to my knee and I’m not sure it’s going to be good for much for a while yet. I can’t work on potting my plants, or work in the garden, or roast coffee. All activities vital to the market so I’ll have something to sell. Then there’s the work of setting up and taking down the booth, which is asking a lot of the knee. So I won’t be doing it this year. I’d rather put it off than risk further injury which would¬†increase the odds of needing surgery on the thing.

I’ve been using my ointments on my knee and they seem to be helping. Today I’m almost able to walk normally, but there is still some pain on the top of my kneecap and I can tell it’s not strong enough yet to go without the brace. The ointments were the Ginseng & Lobelia (out of it now),¬†Ginseng, Chilpetine, Coffee & Wild Comfrey Balm, and Sesame & Arnica balm. When I get a chance I’m going to make a profile page of what I used and how it’s helped to add under my “Herbalism” category. It’s hard to say whether what I’m doing helps or not because I’ve never had this happen before, so I don’t have anything to compare it to. All I know is that on day 3, the swelling is down, stiffness down, very little bruising or pain. To me, that’s terrific after what seems like should have been a pretty bad thing for my knee.

There are things still on the list that I DO intend to do:

nature journal workshop flier

Spring Unfurling Update

update on blue cohosh
One of the blue cohosh transplants that miraculously survived last year’s flood.

The only ginseng unfurling are the ones that were already there or seedlings from the mature plants. Very few of the seedlings are showing up from the from the seeds we planted. I’ve heard feedback from a few others on the list who are seeing the same thing.

I was very happy to see the blue cohosh, black cohosh, and doll’s eyes that I’d transplanted last year have all come up! Send me your ginseng habitat updates, particularly your ginseng seed germination if you planted any last fall.