July 24, 2011, 7:15 pm
Filed under: Craft, Folk | Tags: ,

Cloudburst, A Handbook of Rural Skills and Technology, was conceived of by Vic Marks in the early 1970’s as a guidebook for those wishing to move to the country and begin back-to-the-land lifestyle. Born on Mayne Island, British Columbia and Marks’ books were stuffed with useful information and excellent detailed instruction and illustrations.

Some of the skills covered in book above are things like how to build  a 16ft personal dome, building a chicken coop, sauna construction, smoking fish, and making cheese. Vic Marks went on to publish several more Cloudburst magazines along with other publications on natural food and at least one book on foraging for edible wild mushrooms and another on poisonous and hallucinogenic mushrooms. A 25th Anniversary edition of Cloudburst was published not long ago by his new press, Hartley and Marks.

Bascom Lamar Lunsford

A lawyer, folklorist, and performer of traditional bluegrass music from western North Carolina, Bascom Lamar Lunsford was a folk hero also known as the “Minstrel of the Appalachians.” Lunsford a prolific songwriter himself also spent time collecting the songs and dances of many performers of the Appalachian in order to bring dignity to “hillbilly music.”


I wish I was a mole in the ground
Yes I wish I was a mole in the ground
If I’s a mole in the ground I’d root that mountain down
And I wish I was a mole in the ground

Oh Tippy wants a nine dollar shawl
Yes Tippy wants a nine dollar shawl
When I come o’er the hill with a forty dollar bill
Baby where you been so long

I been in the bend so long
Yes I been in the bend so long
I been in the bend with the rough and rowdy men
Baby where you been so long

I wish I was a Mole in the Ground” first recorded by Lunsford in 1924



String Figures
May 3, 2010, 8:50 am
Filed under: Craft, Folk | Tags: ,

Been pretty busy as of late – new house, new job – however I came across this book recently. Its a collection of string figures and their origins in native American and other indigenous cultures. I never realized how complicated the cat’s cradle could be.

Here are a few of my favorites:

April 7, 2010, 7:29 pm
Filed under: Folk, The Great Outdoors | Tags: , , ,

Been working my way through John McPhee’s “Coming into the Country”, more on that book later, and came across a mention of a writer named “Nessmuk”. Not knowing what he was talking about I learned that Nessmuk was the pen name for George Sears, a nineteenth century writer who wrote for Forest and Stream magazine in the 1880’s. He also published a classic camping book called “Woodcraft” first published in 1884.

McPhee describes Woodcraft as being, “written with so much wisdom wit, and insight that it makes Henry David Thoreu seem alien, humorless, and French.”

Seeing that Cold Splinters seems to always have answers about obscure outdoors ephemera, I search Mr. Thorpe’s site a bit and came across this description of Nessmuk and “Woodcraft.”

RIP Davy Crockett – Fess Parker
March 20, 2010, 6:24 pm
Filed under: Folk | Tags: ,

Fess Parker, the man who portrayed the folk hero and “king of the wild frontier” Davy Crockett on TV, passed away a few days ago. Ever since I heard the news I can’t get that damn theme song out of my head, I suggest giving it a listen, it will bring you back.

Born on a mountain top in Tennessee,
Greenest state in the land of the free.
Raised in the woods so’s he knew every tree,
Killed him a bear when he was only three.

Davy, Davy Crockett King of the Wild Frontier…

From Sheep to Loom
January 28, 2010, 9:03 pm
Filed under: Craft, Folk | Tags: , , , ,

After shearing the sheep and before weaving on the loom, there is spinning on the wheel. The spinning wheel, the device used by the king’s daughter in Rumpelstiltskin to weave straw into gold, is a device dating back to 1237.

Besides turning straw to gold, this device allows you to transform wool into yarn, and then subsequently make clothes or rugs on the loom.

All images from Foxfire 2, more here.

Breakin Up Christmas Party
December 25, 2009, 9:54 am
Filed under: Folk, Listen | Tags: , ,

“The tradition of “Breaking Up Christmas” is a week-long series of gatherings, where people get together in each other’s homes and jam until the wee hours of the morning. Many generations participate, and it’s a really wonderful way for the community to come together and wind down the holiday season.” Via Folk Life Field Notes

The Original Rhinestone Cowboy
December 17, 2009, 11:54 am
Filed under: Art, Folk | Tags: , ,

Loy Allen Bowlin, also known as the Original Rhinestone Cowboy was an outsider artist or folk artist from McComb Mississippi. He is most famous for bejeweling pretty much everything and object around him. He created highly decorated clothes encrusted with jewels, bejeweled his Cadillac, and apparently his dentures.

His greatest creation was probably the Beautiful Holy Jewel Home of the Original Rhinestone Cowboy. This shine, which was his home, is completely engulfed in jewels and rhinestones and serves as a lasting testament to his creative genius.

More images here, all via Sublime Spaces and Visionary Worlds.

Emery Blagdon's Healing Machine
November 10, 2009, 8:56 pm
Filed under: Craft, Folk | Tags: , ,

During the last three decades of his life, Emery Blagdon built a healing machine. Within his shed in the Nebraska Sandhills he delicately created a work from scrap pieces of metal, tin foil, and other found objects which he believed generated electromagnetic energy. When combined with his paintings and properly positioned within his shed this work could generate energy that could alleviate pain and prevent disease.

Kenny Runion
November 9, 2009, 10:17 am
Filed under: Craft, Folk | Tags: ,

Kenny Runion is a craftsman, he makes everything from laurel wood rocking chairs to belts to wooden necklaces with dimes store jewels. He also has a riddle for you.

kenny runion riddle

*Answers to Kenny’s riddle :  (1) A Chesnut (2) A wagon (3) a Churn (4) A person carrying a milk stool upside down riding on a donkey. Excerpt from Foxfire 2.