Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Day 18, exploring ancient tools again...from the comfort of my AC!

On the way to the shed, I taste of a young dandelion leaf sprouting from the bare earth where my neighbor's water line was recently replaced.  I enjoy its tender, flavorful bite, and called it good...my summer-morning wilding!

Tender young dandelion plant

A day of heat and thick blue humid air, when my "re-wilding" in the middle of the day must be done indoors, exploring pigments and ancient methods of making art--and watching the wildlife beyond my windows.  In lieu of a mountain stream or a cool lake to jump into, this will have to do.

The books I spoke of the other day are these--so different but all useful and inspiring.  I've done many of the things these authors suggest, from making my own pigments as I mentioned the other day to cutting pens from quills, twigs, bamboo and reed...

(I've owned the Dover book in the center for years...it's one of my favorites.  The other two are recent...if you click on the image it will enlarge enough to see titles and authors.)

I often test one stone against another to see if they'll grind with interesting colors...here's hematite, ochre, and some interesting greenish-gray pebble.  The grinder at top is a found stone, the other is an inexpensive Japanese suzuri or ink-grinding stone.
Here are a few of the pens I've made...

The pen on top has a tiny reservoir added, to make it hold more ink.
This is how Denis Diderot illustrated cutting a quill pen in the early 18th century...I use a similar method.
I have arranged with the friend who made the rawhide for the healing drum to save me some deer hair to make my own paintbrushes.

There is something so satisfying about making and using your own tools, whether art tools, practical pottery, sandals, moccasins, knives...

I used this little flint herb-cutting knife in the garden today, trimming back some things and harvesting on my way to the shed.  The handle is bone I found in the woods...

And for the maximum inspiration beautifully presented, there is this video chronicling primitive potter Kelly Magleby, exploring pottery Anasazi-style.  I am in awe...my own experiments with primitive-style pottery seem almost urban by comparison!

Hand built raku pot


  1. So interesting, Kate. I am enchanted by the idea of making a brush out of deer hair. Have you ever made any brushes?

  2. The video was fascinating!! Love her work.
    I have actually been saving Karma's whiskers that she has shed over the years and plan to make a brush from them after she is gone. Not sure how to do it, but I trust you can find almost anything online. I'm sure I can find how to make your own paint brushes. :)


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