More pictures!

June 2, 2008

Here is my Flickr page.

It’s organized logicaly because the Flickr editor, while visual, allows logic.
So – the 2 pendants I was allowed to upload are in the Pendants folder or set, the 173+ pairs of earrings are in the Earrings folder or set, and the pins / brooches are in the Brooches set.

It only let me upload 200 pics and I culled down to 197. I have about 700 more pics but don’t want to spend $25 to show them on Flickr when I can show them all for free on Photobucket… LOL. If you want to see *everything* hit up my Photobucket album.

… and all of this is for sale!



June 2, 2008

My Photobucket site is here.

and I totally screwed up the albums thing, so every folder is nested inside the others. It should be a set of separate folders. It won’t let me delete the screwed up set nor create a new set. sigh! Anyway all the images are either in the main folder (above) or in “earrings 1”.

You can thus look at all my fun products without the pressure of buying them, although you really should buy them, as they need new loving homes. :)

Woodchuck Tails

April 7, 2008

A fly-tying tip:

For groundhogs (Marmota monax, aka woodchuck)

> Save the skinned out tails. Those black hairs can often be better than those from a moose mane for hackles, bodies and tails in fly tying…
> Ah yes, woodchuck tail hair is used to tie the fabled trout fly created by Fran Betters; the Ausable Wulff.

Making Feather Flowers

April 3, 2008


To make a flower, buy a foot or 2 of strung hackle in your choice of color(s).
Now wind it around something. Bottle caps seem good because you can put stuff inside the cap to embed your center materials in without raising the middle (or making a hump).
Glue gun every 2-3″ to keep it from unwinding.
Once you reach the end of the strung hackle, make a very neat end.
Now select your center materials. Embed them in the center of the feather flower – you can use any hardening material and it can even become part of the design, like if you’re embedding them in dyed casting resin.
Then get a tea kettle to boiling, or get your iron nice and hot and on the “max” steam setting. Steam the feathers for about 20-30 seconds and then quickly wind all of them in your hand, or against the ironing board, in one direction. Hold it there, all wound up, for a good minute or 2.
You can glue a pinback or barrette on the reverse using your center disc too.

More Fun Soap-Making

April 3, 2008

I made up my last batch of soap for the year today.

408g of total solids (fine-ground & rendered animal fat from various places in the animals’ bodies, and the little brown goo-micelles too)
60g egg yolk
about 120g olive oil (extra virgin)

Total amount of fats: about 262g (could be much more, up to 300-325g.)

added about 39g lye and about 45-50cc water (remembering that there was a good 80cc water in the critter goo) as recommended loosely by the MMS calculator.

… I did not render the egg yolks. I used them raw and cold, straight out of the eggs.

Gloved up, I mixed up the lye water and walked away. I warmed the fats up and stirred thoroughly.

Olive oil castile soap which I made for my mom a few days ago, took 3 days to trace. The previous critter fat batch I made (with rendered fat) took a day and a half to trace. So I figured, ah what the hey, I’ll stir for 5 minutes and walk away…

… so, that in mind, I mixed the 2 together, putting the lye water in to the fats in a slow, steady stream, while stirring.



I stirred a little bit, but got put off by the stink and a suspicious “steam” and a funny feeling in my nose (major yikes here, could have been lye fumes.) I walked away after turning the fume hood on high. I kept having to stir an oily film from the surface, under. When I came back in 15 minutes, there was a dark blood-red layer on the bottom, and a medium beige layer on top. I cussed and started stirring right away. I had to break up a whole bunch of half-formed soap globules, but got them all done. I kept on stirring until I was well past light-trace, because I was happy that I finally got a soap to trace while I was stirring it.

(btw I made this in it’s final container – no transfer to a mold was needed)

My guess? It may be a little lye heavy; I may have mis-guessed the weight of the egg yolks and/or the weight of the rendered kit fox fat. (both had to be guessed at – the fat would not separate from the micelles, and the egg yolks got put in to the critter fat before I re-weighed, whoops.)

It cured to a soft rubbery? texture, and pale brown color. It was easy to cut with a regular knife. Ash (sodium carbonate, aka washing soda or laundry booster) formed on some edges, so this will be a great soap for hides.

If it’s too basic, so be it, I’ll rebatch / add olive oil in a week or so.
If it’s perfect, awesome.

This batch is only for hides — not for hands — it contains brains, far too hard to come by for mere handwashing or plant spraying. I have batches for both other purposes on-hand now.

Another important safety tip I have not seen a lot of:

When rendering your fat down, make sure to keep the heat set to low-medium. Oil heats up higher then the water, oil rises, and grease spatters. Grease fires are bad news, and boiling oil was used in Medieval times to burn and kill people for a reason. Do not stare right down in to your grease-making pot, because a spatter in your eye can harm you. Keep the heat low, more like a rolling simmer then a full boil, and don’t let your oil spatter! If the oil does spatter, turn the gas or heat off immediately.

Soap-Making Questions (first batch)

OK, for today’s installment (probably the last for the year, but I’m not sure) …

Got the calc’s from here:

The recipe I put in (after weighing out the rendered fat from yesterday):
Goat Fat 222 g
Mink Oil 222 g
Total Weight 444 g
57g lye for a 7% superfat / 7% excess fat soap
For the size of fat batch that you are using, we recommend that you use approximately 135 milliliters of liquid.

Half the liquid was aloe vera gel and the other half was water.

I put the lye water in to the fats when the fats and the lye water were both pretty hot (didn’t know the temps, but they were not boiling or anywhere near it). Because I don’t have a “stick blender”, the brisk stirring by hand for 15 minutes straight, still resulted in a quick oil-rise-to-the-top once I stopped.

The lye was sprinkled in to the water (snow on the lake! safety first…) outside. Glad I do all my lye-stuff outside, because today the stuff practically boiled. 23g lye in water is much different then 57g lye in water!

So I’ll just keep at it like I did the first batch. My mistake with the first batch was tossing the oil that rose to the top and using “no” superfat. Whoops! So that batch is lye-heavy.

At least the new second batch of soap is not lye heavy Smiley It’s also a prettier, pale goldenrod yellow color.

To answer the question – the rendered fat was somewhere between an oil and a tallow: it was not a hard fat inside the bowl. It was like a gel. Underneath it, was jell-o!
The stuff that separated out, formed itself in to jell-o. I should have saved it to make hide glue but, with the ready availability of jell-o, I tossed it. Some things just aren’t worth the trouble of saving.


My second batch (using rendered fat) came out almost white in color, fairly crumbly in texture, medium hard, and very pretty! I haven’t demolded it yet because it’s still more yellow in the center then on the top. I want it to be uniformly whitened before I pop it out of the mold to crumble it up.

I re-batched my first soap (the stuff made from the raw ground fat.)
I put about 90-95g of pure virgin olive oil in to a container.
This is because I estimate I poured out about 90-95g of oil when I thought the batch had failed.
I added about 35-40ml of water to the soap flakes.
Then I heated up the soap flakes/water and the olive oil at the same time (2 different containers), in the microwave.
Once everything was heated up almost to the “foam over the top” point — I was watching for the dreaded volcano effect (LOL) – I took everything out of the microwave and combined the oil with the soap flakes/water.
It went from oil on top, to emulsified and beginning to react, within a minute or 2. I stirred with a plastic fork. The color went from off-ivory (palest beige?) to a medium warm beige. The faint smell was like cooking olive oil.
I stirred a lot. I broke up the larger lumps with my gloved hands, then I re-reheated it and stirred a lot more.
It came out like a gooey semi-translucent (mostly opaque) gel? but at least it’s not lye-heavy anymore.
It has hardened up considerably and cannot be stirred anymore. It is resting in it’s container now.
It will be fun to use as an organic pesticide for the garden, and a great ingredient for my second favorite oddball thing to do… brain-tanning of hides.

That was a fun mess! Friday I shall do it all over again, but I’ll render the fat and tissues this time! hehe!

Next to the bed there was a small amount (2 grams?) of quiviut. I’d removed it from a small bit of musk ox hide earlier in the day.
I figured, what the heck, I’ll try making some quiviut thread, by hand, just like in the ancient, ancient days.

Got about 15 yards done so far (oh there’s *tons* more fluff to work through, LOL, I had no idea 5g of quiviut = 100 yards!), using my left hand as the orifice, and my right thumb and forefinger as the twister/spindle…

OK, it’s done!
The scarf weighs a whopping 900mg — under a gram! and is over 6 feet long x 2 to 3 spaces (2 to 3 knit-holes) wide.
It appears to an observer to be about 1/4″ wide and slightly openwork.
(I still have 5 little balls of yarn left over, so, I might make another scarf Smiley )
It will make a fabulous base for a fur scarf. The entire process: grooming the quiviut out, finger-spinning it & setting the twist, then finger-knitting it in to the scarf, took 2 hours.
The value on an item like this is based more on the time/labor then the materials; this scarf was 2 hours x $40 + 900mg spun-up 1-ply pure quiviut at $10/g. = $89. It is not for sale — I am just showing you one way of how to calculate the value of an item you produce.
To compare, my former lightest scarf base was made out of nylon microfiber and weighed about 10g at 5 feet long x 2-3 knit holes (spaces).
Now I only have to decide what fur is most worthy to be woven through one of the most expensive and rare base fibers available.

OK, quickie tute:
How to spin by hand right off the pelt (no carding, no drafting, no fuss, no muss):
Get your clean fiber; grab a tuft. Make the tuft soggy with a spritz bottle. Hold the tuft in your non-dominant hand. Allow a little bit between your thumb and forefinger. Now, grip that with your dominant hand, and pinch-spin it. Now pull your dominant hand away from your non-dominant hand, sometimes pinch spinning and sometimes just pulling, until you have the thickness of thread/yarn you want… voila, you will have yarn forming between your fingers. Beware hand cramps. :)

— from a complete n00b, so your mileage will vary! hehe!

My comment:

(the below is pretty sage)
Here’s something great to do with the fox and coyote fur scraps I sell, by the piece or by weight, to the anglers out there:


Coyote and Fox Fur

the traditional dry patterns that use fox fur are:
1. march browns, #12 (i usually mix some light brown seal fur in with the fur belly fur for mine)
2. gray fox dry #14 (i tie these, and some with a light ginger hackle stem for the body) both of these patterns are my killer flies during the hatch on kettle creek.
3. female hendricksons, use the pinkish urine-burned fur from the belly of the fox. another killer dry #14-#12

4. light cahills. down by the tail and some mid fur has a very light yellowish color for these bodies. #16-#14 oil creek
wet flies; light cahills, light hendricksons
i use natural furs as much as possible over synthetics.