Friday, December 20, 2013

Soliloquy from a Freight Yard: An Open Fall Window

Our lovely friend and photographer, Virginia Harold, took some amazing shots of our family and some old friends, gathered to enjoy a night of poetry, music and each other. Sean Arnold was celebrating his third book release of poetry, Soliloquy from a Freight Yard . The first two books of this series can be found here. These photos capture so much...she's sneaky like that!!!




Wednesday, December 04, 2013

Christmas Creations

Every year I do Holiday Craft Fairs, I make ornaments and various other small gifts.  This year I turned my magnets into ornaments of old depictions of St. Nicolas.  I found five different book covers of " A Visit from Santa Claus/The Night Before Christmas," and one illustration, creating a unique vintage-looking set of ornaments. 
I also made Organic Healing Salve, from the St. John's Wort oil I made early this Fall.  I will be filling larger glass jars later today. 
I'm making some steam punk stockings, little wool skirts, more wool hooded scarves and if I have time... journals from the eco-printed wool scrapes.  We will see what I can fit in by this weekend.
Fair Ophelia will be at the Skinker DeBaliviere Wintermarkt this Saturday, 11-4pm, in St. Louis, MO. Come by and support your local artisans. Bundle up... it is going to be a cold, but sunny one!!!!

Monday, December 02, 2013

Madrone Berry Necklaces

One of my favorite things to do, while walking in the woods around Tipi Village, is taking a moment with the Madrone trees. The thin bark peels off leaving a smooth layer exposed and I am in constant awe of its twisting and gnarled branches.  One of the older Madrones, called Grandma by the kids and I, has swallowed a barb-wire fence. Nature does not care about our imaginary boundaries.
It is one of the many sacred trees of the Pacific Northwest.
In the legend of the great flood, the Salish First Nation describe how the Madrona tree provided an anchor for their canoes to hold steady and not drift away. It is known as a Tree of Knowledge because it knows how to find the sun. It twists and turns, growing new branches where the sun can reach them. Poet Richard Olafson shares another Native legend, writing, "The tree's webbed roots hold the splintered earth together." If it should disappear, the myth warns, the planet would fly apart and be utterly destroyed. The Madrone is also known as the Tree of Depth and Integrity, and is symbolic of protection and versatility.
One of our fellow villagers found Madrone berry necklaces at a primitive skills gathering and I couldn't wait to make some the following year.  Waiting is one aspect of wildcrafting that makes things more exciting and cherished, you usually only have a short window of opportunity to gather materials!
I spent a good amount of my time, while driving to Missouri, stringing the berries and after a month of slow drying they are ready to become necklaces. 
I am honored to adorn my body with these berries and hope those of you that get your own will appreciate this trees beauty.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Eco -Printing Part Two

The prints from my last two days of dyeing, using an iron bath with elder leaves, sumac leaves, and onion skins thrown in the mix.

Detail of one of the leave prints on Sheep sorrel dyed wool

I'm pretty wordless right now... the prints are so amazing!!!  I stayed up until 3 am making these scarves last night.  Every time I unravel a bundle I feel like a little kid on my birthday...

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Adventures in Eco-printing Part One

I jumped into my first eco-printing session yesterday, after reading up on the many ways to achieve the color imprints.  I was given a huge amount of organic wool scraps and figured this was the best use for them.  Eco-printing is really simple, but it takes a lot of experimenting to fully understand how one can achieve clear images and get a range of colors.  I already had an iron solution, from dyeing with sumac berries earlier in the day, so I bundled the wool with rubber bands and placed them in a steam bath of the iron solution.  Everything was going well until one of my kids spooked me and while checking on one of the bundles dropped them into the solution... oops!!! Normally I think this would be fine, except the solution had turned dark grey from the sumac.  After a little profanity I remembered how mishaps can create beauty in art making... So to my pleasant surprise they still turned out beautifully.  I am full of ideas on how to use these little pieces of art.  Maybe journal covers, holiday cards, wall hangings, patches, there are so many possibilities!!!!   My next batch, which is soaking as I type this, will be unrolled after tonight.  I am going to try the steaming technique again to see if it produces the subtle details better.

Lay leaves and flowers on pre-alumed wet wool
Eco-print of leaves on wool


Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Plant medicine -- St. John's Wort Oil

This healing oil of St. John's Wort, Hypericum perforatum, is a staple for our family.  Michael healed a deep puncture wound, without infection, and any minor scrap or burn is treated with this oil.  A fellow villager, Kayla, gave us our first jar the month we moved to Tipi Village.  A precious gift!  This summer I made my own oil. Paying close watch over the new shoots on my daily walks around the mountain.  I felt like I was hovering in anticipation and envious of those returning with the summer's first blooms. Fair and I gathered the flowers and buds from multiple spots around the village, making sure that we were conscience of the other medicine makers harvest, as to not diminish the flowers to seed next years growth.  I used 70% buds to 30% flowers, solar infused with organic olive oil.  It sat outside our tipi for over two months, deepening in reds everyday. 

Hearth Tidings -- Issue Two

This is the issue of Tipi Village's newsletter I edited. 

Monday, October 14, 2013

Forest of Arts (Hopkins Demonstration Forest)

Our family was invited to give a Tipi Living Demo at an outdoor arts festival, called Forest of Arts, this last weekend.  It was held at the Hopkins Demonstration Forest, outside of Portland, OR.  Along with showing how people can still live in tipis, with a direct relationship with the elements, my husband and I gave demonstrations of our own crafts as well.  I recreated my outdoor sewing work space and set up a hand-on display for Natural Dyeing, while Michael displayed his basket weaving and bow-making.  Fair Ophelia Designs creations were for sale, along with a few wild-crafted plant medicines.  It was a really great event and we would be happy to return next year! 
We set up our family lodge one day before the festival began and welcomed many old friends into our home.  After living in Southern Oregon for more than a year and having many folks come and visit us, we had the pleasure of bringing our home to those unable to travel afar.
Tipi living in the Cascade region seems a bit unreasonable due to the wetness, but we survived the weekend.  There was only one short rain storm, but finding dry wood in a temperate rain forest is difficult, leading to smokier fires than normal.  Our bones were creaking from the cold moist air, yet the experience was rewarding.
It is strange to put your life on display, but I feel we opened many eyes to the possibility of how humans can live in a more direct and accountable way.  Many boy and girl scout troops were around and the whole family took turns helping them get some badges.  Fair and Whitman showed how to identify different trees and what those trees offered for food and medicine.  I did a short dyeing tutorial with sumac berries and iron and Michael talked about wild edibles and processing acorns.  Their eyes were bright and there smiles wide by the end of the visit with us.  We had many great conversations throughout the weekend and thank you to all those who supported us by taking home one of my many creations!!!
Natural Dyeing Demo Area
Fair Ophelia Designs

Sumac berries create a rosy beige, but when put in an iron after-bath it changes to a charcoal.

Wolf lichen, Oregon Grape root, and Onion skins create various yellows and light greens.

(photo by Gordon F.)
Visitors were fascinated with the spectrum of colors from natural dyeing and I told them this demo's colors were just the tip of the ice burg in the colors one can achieve!

Boy scouts breaking open acorns and walnuts.

(photo by Gordon F.)
Our family lodge
(photo by Gordon F.)
Michael spent a lot of time welcoming people inside and letting them experience being on the ground around the fire.


(photo by Gordon F.)
We tried to make it as close to our normal setup.

Time with our loved ones!

Tuesday, July 02, 2013

A Glimpse of Fair Ophelia

I have been working on creating different vest patterns and they are turning out great!  Kids vests are happily eating up my fabric supply... shopping for more may be in order...  Also, half vests that make me feel fancy.  My vintage Singer is working great and my outdoor workspace is shady and cool during this insane heat wave.