These are large acorn caps. Burr oak and other oak acorns.

New Products Lineup for Wild Ozark 2019

Lots of new Paleo Paint products in the lineup for Wild Ozark 2019! Look for new handmade watercolors, new packaging (less plastic!) and more paintings.

Since I started making the paint in June of last year, I’ve experimented a lot. And I’ve learned a lot. The same goes for the paintings using handmade watercolors.

As I’ve never painted with anything except these paints I make, I have little to draw on from experience compared with store-bought versions.

However, in my work-play, I’ve come up with a few more techniques for using and making the paint. And I’ve found some better ways to package the paints and make them easier or more fun to use.

Plastic Reduction

The usual thing nowadays used to hold paint are little plastic pans. I’ve gone through literally hundreds of pans since I started making paint. When it’s paint for myself, I wash and reuse them. As I’m developing new products for the upcoming year, I’d prefer to use less plastic.

Originally, artists used whatever was handy to their region. Those who lived near bodies of water typically used seashells. If they purchased paint, it came in seashells, I’d assume. However most of the artists of old made their own paint.

While I don’t have seashells handy, I do have acorns with convenient little caps. And we have a lot of wood scraps when Rob is in the workshop making his art. Nature abounds with all sorts of ‘holders’, so I’ll keep my eyes open for other natural items that will work.

Paint delivery with no or little plastics.
Paint delivery with no or little plastics.

For the acorn cup holders, I still need to use the hot glue to attach them to the base. So not completely plastic-free, but much closer.

New Products in 2019

More Colors

While my main focus for new products will remain on local colors, the Soul of the Ozark series, I would like to start experimenting with minerals from other places. Whenever I travel, I’ll collect the soil, rocks, or clay of that place and make collections called “Soul of That Place”.

I’ve learned to make an incredible blue out of lapis lazuli, but that rock is expensive and in short supply here in my possession, so it most likely won’t ever be one of my new products to sell. However, there are other rocks native to the United States that will make blue. Same goes for green. So these won’t be included in a Soul collection unless it is native to the region I’ve collected, but I’d like to have those colors on hand.

Another thing I learned to do, and now consider standard practice when I have a large enough source, is to refine the colors. The whole rock gives a certain shade. But if you separate the fractions of the rock using water, other shades are possible. Some of the shades can be quite vivid, like this Russet from the fines of the rock I used originally to make my Nirvana color.

More Art

I’ve entered the only two originals I have left into a show for the Artists of Northwest Arkansas. Which means in order to enter any other shows, I’ll need more originals. Right now I’m working on a goshawk and hopefully it will turn out well enough to compete. Before I can finish the painting, though, I have to make the colors I need.

The next exhibit I’d like to apply to is at the Springfield Museum of Art. I need to have this goshawk done by February for that.

My little twisted tree swatches have been popular items at the market, so I will make more of those and add them to the new product line as they become available. They’re small and affordable for people who want to own original art rather than prints. And they look just as nice framed as any larger sized painting would.

Paleo Duos

Whimsical, yet practical. At the moment, I only have enough of the large acorn cups to make 4 sets. If these prove to be a popular way to deliver my handmade watercolors, I’ll find more of them!

Each acorn cup holds more paint than a standard full pan. If all I can find are smaller acorns, then I’ll add more cups and call them Trios or Quads.

The bones of a new product. This is what will become Paleo Duo sets. Look for these to appear at Etsy and at the market booth by the end of January.
The bones of what will become Paleo Duo sets.

Wooden Palettes

These wooden blocks are awesome, and contain no plastics at all. When I finish the paints in one of mine, I’ll try washing and re-using it, too. My son Garrison has been working with me on this design. He’s doing all the work of making them and I’m filling them with paint and offering feedback. The one below is a working prototype.

Not one of the new products, but a new way to package the products. No plastic!
Not one of the new products, but a new way to package the products. No plastic!

Paleo Go

This is a portable set based on the concept of ‘whiskey paintings’. It features small acorn cups with magnets so they can be swapped out for different colors. Will come with the first set of colors, a miniature paint brush, shot glass for water, and the wooden plaque. I have been using this prototype as often as I can so I can make modifications as needed. Once I have all the bugs worked out and beautify the presentation of it more, it’ll be one of the new products at the market too. Look for this mid- to late 2019. Maybe earlier if I’m lucky with the first round of modifications.

Paleo Go prototype in use for one of my twisted tree paintings.
Paleo Go prototype in use for one of my twisted tree paintings.

Where to Find Wild Ozark?

Look for me on Saturdays at the Fayetteville (indoor) Farmers Market until March. I won’t be there the first weekend in January, though. You can find out when and where I’ll be by checking my calendar here.

I’ll be at the Community Craft Show in Bentonville on February 9.

My Etsy shop is at Etsy.com/shop/wildozark and it’s open all the time!

Got Acorns?

If you have any burr oak acorn caps, I would be happy to buy some from you! Ditto the other large caps. I have lots of medium and small acorns, just need more of the large ones. Email me if you’d like to donate or sell to the cause: [email protected]

Have a wonderful, prosperous, and exciting 2019!

Products of Wild Ozark's nature farming.

What is Nature Farming? What does a Nature Farmer Grow?

What I mean by ‘Nature Farming’ is not the same as ‘natural farming’, ‘organic farming’, or ‘natural farming methods’. Explanations for all of these things come up when you do a search online for ‘nature farming’. But nothing turns up for true nature farming. Hopefully this post will show up in the search engine results list soon.

I am literally farming nature.

I’m not doing conventional farming using natural techniques, or practicing organic or permaculture farming (although where I do actually grow things on purpose, I do adhere to those principles).

The more people who interact with my blog, the more quickly it’ll turn up in searches online. Will you help me get it noticed by sharing this post?

Wild Ozark is a Nature Farm. They are literally farming nature. Click To Tweet

 

What I’m farming is already present there in nature.

For the most part, the plants I use in my business already grow here naturally. I encourage some of them to multiply by dividing or transplanting or seeding them in more areas, but the habitats to support them already exist here. No tilling involved, though sometimes I do make nursery beds by creating rock wall terraces on the hillsides.

The terraces are in the deep shade under trees with the kinds of leaves that make good mulch for ginseng. They keep the pots from washing away during rains and when the creek floods, provides easy access for seedlings when I need to fill orders, and is a staging/holding area for the items I bring with me to market.

Things I keep in my nature farming nursery beds. A ginseng habitat in a pot! This one includes a 3-year old American ginseng with a handful of companions for $75. Available only for local pickup at the nursery, or the Rogers Downtown Farmers Market on Saturdays or the Huntsville Farmers Market on Tuesdays. Reserve in advance to make sure I have one with me by emailing madison@wildozark.com.
A ginseng habitat in a pot! This one includes a 3-year old American ginseng with a handful of companions for $75. Available only for local pickup at the nursery, or the farmers market booth (check schedule). Reserve in advance to make sure I have one with me by emailing [email protected] Bare root collections can be shipped in fall.

American ginseng seedlings are the main things that use the terraced beds. I transplant the seedlings to the other habitats and I also put them in pots sell them at market. When it’s not growing season, I sell them as dormant, bare root plants. Wild Ozark is the only certified ginseng nursery in Arkansas. Wild ginseng lives here naturally, and I’ve purchased seeds to grow even more of it. I keep the wild populations separate from the wild-simulated.

When I say ‘wild-simulated’ that means I’m growing the ginseng in the same way it would grow in the wild. All I do is plant the seed in a space where it can flourish. I do have one small area set aside as a teaching environment. It’s my Ginseng Habitat Demonstration Garden. It’s not quite a natural area yet, because it is still recovering from being logged many years ago. As the trees get bigger it will return to a natural dense shade forested habitat.

In addition to the ginseng seedlings and habitat pots, I also keep many of the companions in propagation beds so I can easily transplant them to pots and sell them, or harvest bare root plants for dormant shipping. Those plants include goldenseal, bloodroot, black cohosh, blue cohosh, a variety of ferns, spicebush plants, pawpaw tree seedlings, and doll’s eyes. I also keep some of my other favorites like trillium, Dutchman’s breeches, and trout lilies, too.

Stewardship of Mother Nature versus Stewardship by Me

The Ginseng Habitat Demonstration Garden is not left completely to nature because I’m taking out things like honeysuckle and wild roses. I’m thinning some of the trees I don’t want there to favor some of the ones I do. The reason for that is to speed up the process that will make it a better habitat for the American ginseng and the companion plants that also grow in the same sort of environment. While the rest of Wild Ozark is pretty much left up to the stewardship of Mother Nature, this demonstration garden is being tended by me.

While the garden isn’t an ideal environment yet for the ginseng, it will eventually be so and the plants are doing well enough in the meantime. My process of doing this is helpful to others who want to do the same thing on their own property. Additionally, and the main reason I chose this spot, is because it is in a location close to the front gate and I don’t mind sharing that location with visitors.

Nature Farming means Harvesting Nature

I harvest things provided by nature. Things naturally growing, dropped to the ground, or dried on the stem. Wildcrafting is the gathering of wild plants. I’ll make ointments or extracts and teas from the medicinal plants. Some of them I’ll sell, and some of them I keep for our own household use. The parts I gather include fruits (persimmons, pawpaw), flowers (echinacea and beebalm), berries (elderberries, spicebush berries, raspberry, blackberry, etc.), seeds (lobelia), nuts (hickory, acorns), stems (witch hazel) or roots (ginseng, goldenseal).

 

Using Nature Farming Products to Create Art

So here’s where my nature farm departs from what most people normally think of when they think ‘farming’. The bulk of what Wild Ozark produces is botanical items most people barely notice. Usually it’s lying on the ground in the process of decomposing so it can return to the soil. Sticks, vines, leaves, bits of bark that fell from a tree… all treasures to me.

These harvests include things I use in my arts and crafts, like mosses and lichens and bark. These are things I simply pick up and put in my bucket during my morning walks.

A bucket full of nature farming produce. Some botanicals from the last gathering foray.

I use all of these things to create my Forest Folk, Fairy Houses, and Fairy Gardens. These are very popular and I even hold workshops on how to make these things so anyone can learn how a bit of nature farming can lead to beautiful Nature Art. I sell the small ferns for fairy gardens, bags of moss and preserved leaves, too. You can see where I’ve used twigs, acorns, leaves, dried grass, moss and small ferns in the following photos.

Bark from the Shagbark Hickory

One of our Nature Farm harvests is the bark of a certain tree. Burnt Kettle, my husband’s company, uses the bark from Shagbark hickories to make a delicious syrup. These trees grown naturally all around here.

Eventually we’ll harvest the wood from certain trees for my husband’s woodworking projects. He needs a bandsaw and sawmill to make boards from the abundant cedars that grow here.

Indirect Harvests from my Nature Farm

Art, photography, stories and workshops. Being around nature all of the time inspires me to write, draw, and take photos. I love sharing what I learn and enjoy with others, so I’m always happy to be contacted about doing workshops on topics like nature journaling, ginseng growing or habitat identification, and creating nature art. I’m not an expert on photography, so I’ll leave workshops on that to the ones that are. The outstanding photos from the ones I take are available for sale but I don’t have most of them listed at the shop yet.

Thanks for visiting with Wild Ozark website and taking the time to read about what I do here. Come by and visit the Ginseng Habitat Demonstration Garden if you’re in the area during spring and summer or come by the market booth to see the Forest Folk and Fairy Gardens! The market schedule will be kept current so you’ll know where I’ll be and when, but you can always email in advance if you like. Click here to get all of my contact information.

A Green Dragon Drawing

I’ve been working on a Green Dragon drawing for the cover of NANPS’s summer issue of Blazing Star. There will be another of the spathe and spadix to do next. That one will be used in the article.

Here’s the photograph I worked from. I used more than one photo because I didn’t have a single capture that showed the plant and all of its leaves AND the ripe fruit cluster.  I used this one because it at least showed all of the leaves.

Green Dragon in July
Green Dragon in July

Here’s the progression of the drawing in stages:

Green Dragon Drawing
Green Dragon Drawing. Prints available from the Wild Ozark shop.

 

Click here to see my drawing of the Namesake of the Dragon. If you’d like to know more about this plant, I have a few posts here on the blog about it. This is one of my favorite woodland plants.

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!
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.