About Blog Title...

As a child, it was one of my greatest delights to visit my grandparents in the spring when the whip-poor-wills began to call. Grandma and Grandpa lived in a remote valley of the Ozark Mountains where there were trees a plenty, and, seemingly, a whip-poor-will, or two, in each one.
My grandmother insisted that a whip-poor-will's call was not "whip-poor-will," but instead, "chip-butter-white-oak." I would listen really hard trying to hear it exactly as she said it was, but all I could hear was "whip-poor-will, whip-poor-will,..." But, I never let on to her.
I remember my grandpa watching and listening, with an amused look on his face, to one of these listening sessions. Shortly after that he began to call me, just for fun, "Chip Butter." It is a name I am proud to wear for I still love to hear that long, lonesome call on a warm summer's eve. And, sometimes, when I listen really, really hard, it seems I can hear quite clearly, "chip-butter-white-oak, chip-butter-white-oak..."

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Legendary Hats...

The iconic Tom Mix and his trademark 10-gallon hat
(image in the public domain in United States)

It has been 150 years since John B. Stetson launched the company whose hats have become an icon of the American West.  In the early 1860s on a trek to Pike's Peak, Stetson, in an attempt to weather-proof himself, fashioned a broad-brimmed hat from felted fur shavings, the first "Boss of the Plains," which he later sold right off his head to a cowboy for a $5 gold piece.*

One old cowboy once said of Stetson's hats, "It kept the sun out of your eyes and off your neck. It was an umbrella.  It gave you a bucket to water your horse (the crown) and a cup (the brim) to water yourself.  It made a hell of a fan, which you need sometimes for a fire, but more often to shunt cows this direction or that."**

Stetson Hats are still being made today in Garland, Texas, in the good ole' USA. 

 *Cowboys & Indians Magazine, October 2015

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Slippin' Away...

One of my favorite spots in any season...

A bit of color, already...
Today the sun set on the Chip Butter Trail a bit earlier than yesterday.  Subtle as they may be, changes are taking place all around.  Though summer still holds the door, one can almost hear a new season's tap on that door.  Feet seem to drag along the trail, for one is not quite ready for the last rays to settle behind yonder mountain.  But, there's work (and maybe some play) still to be done, so suddenly there's a nudge to hurry, for we know all too well, that summer's surely slippin' away.

Fruit along the trail...

Edging with rocks from a stream bed on the place... finished.

Fall-born calves (a little early)...

A last hurrah before school bells ring...

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Plant Dyes...

What if zinnia blossoms from the garden (actually, these had been frozen for almost a year) were pressed onto pre-mordanted* cotton muslin, bound up tightly into a bundle, put into a pot containing black walnut dye, and cooked?

I think the photos above (untouched) taken of  this sample after it was pressed with a hot iron between layers of paper is quite beautiful, and colorful enough to cause even Georgia O'Keeffe to take a second look.

*Mordants or adjuncts are substances that act as a bridge, or bond, between the molecules of the fibre being dyed, and the substance that is being used to dye it.  Eco Colour ~ India Flint

Protein (animal) fibers, such as wool and silk, have a natural affinity for plant dyes because the molecules that make up proteins (and alkalis) have a positive bonding point available, whereas acids (in the plant dyes) have a negative.  Opposites attract, so when combined these are a match made in heaven and will form what is known as a 'polar bond.'

Although a stain from a plant dye can often be achieved on the surface of a cellulose-fibre textile (cotton, linen, etc.), it won't necessarily form a permanent bond with the cloth; like trying to push two magnet ends of like polarity together.  Therefore, to dye a cellulose fibre, a protein or an alkali (a mordant) of some sort must be present on the surface of the cloth for the plant dye to bond with.  Second Skin ~ India Flint

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

The First Week Of August...

The first week of August hangs at the very top of summer, the top of the live-long year, like the highest seat of a Ferris Wheel when it pauses in its turning.  The weeks that come before are only a climb from balmy spring, and those that follow a drop to the chill of autumn, but the first week of August is motionless, and hot.  It is curiously silent, too, with blank white dawns and glaring noons, and sunsets smeared with too much color.
                                                                        ~ Natalie Babbitt, Tuck Everlasting

With the hot August sun glaring down almost every day, and with an abundance of colorful blossoms in every field and garden, it's a good time to take advantage of a bit of solar heating to experiment with eco-print bundling.*  On these small samples of muslin, I was delighted to have actually captured a bit of color from blue saliva from the garden. It just might be, if these bundles had been left undisturbed for a much longer time allowing the heat of a succession of blistering hot summer days to work its magic, the blue might have been darker...perhaps as deep as indigo! (Dream on, dream on...)

*The Bundle Book ~India Flint 

And, just in case it turns out that there is an eco-dyed cloth suitable for a new dress, someone will need to model it.  The little cloth gal, who is made from muslin aged in a black walnut wash, is hoping for the job.  And,  I am hoping I can remember the dos and don'ts in sculpting a doll.  I am looking closely at the last one I did...remembering as I go.  

Meanwhile, the seventeen weaning heifers have made the transition from Mom-ma's babies to Big Girls without much ado, except for getting out of their new pasture once, and helping themselves to some choice nibbles around the yard.  Having been together since their birth, they are a close knit bunch and can always be found together, whether grazing, drinking from the stream, or bedded down to rest. I am thinking they might go through hell or high water to stay together...even on our front door step!  

And, as in any season, the perfect ending to any day...Nell at my feet.