07/16/2013

Boise couple travels, collects sticks

In a corner of the garage, Bert Otto makes his way to the high-back swivel chair. It's his little oasis in the tumble of his workshop, in the riot of equipment and projects, items stored or in transit. The chair is his meditative place, and it's where he spends hours and hours - and hours. 

Everything he needs is close at hand: his knife, an old cabinet scraper, rasps of various sizes and roughness, sandpaper curled and used but not yet used up. Bert tucks a towel across his legs and hefts his work with hands that read the wood like Braille. 

Today, he's working on a piece of diamond willow. He could have selected a stick of mountain alder, or cherry or rose or a piece of ocotillo - or maybe that piece of maple root he cut from a swamp in Minnesota - from the stacks in the corners, from the inventory neatly labeled in the rafters and the shed and the attic. 

The stick is being transformed into a work of art - a functional walking stick or cane, and art nonetheless. Bert will scrape the bark, or not, or carve around knotholes - whatever enhances the natural beauty of the wood. He'll polish it satin-smooth, add a stone or decoration, apply a finish and a rubber tip, and an inventory number. 

For more than 40 years, Bert owned Rathman Cabinet and Fixture at the end of 5th Street near Julia Davis Park, which turned out handmade bars and back-bars and lunch counters for businesses all over Boise and Idaho - the Eastman building, the Yellowstone Hotel in Pocatello, the old Torch, the basement of the Idanha. Bert built the glass museum case holding the silver service from the USS Boise, a case that was broken into and the silver stolen from in the 1950s. 

For a lot of kids, summertime beckons with temptations - to sleep in late, watch too much TV, swim, roam. And that's just the first day. Boredom sets in soon after.So provide kids with crafts that inspire awe, not blahs. Two reliable sources are "Martha Stewart Living" and "Family Fun" magazines, which post kids' crafts online. "Martha Stewart Living" editors have also just released "Martha Stewart's Favorite Crafts for Kids." Many of the projects in this heavy tome are retooled from the magazine's pages, which means they can also be found online.Creativebug, meanwhile, offers online craft classes for kids throughout the summer, including a no-sew tepee, Shrinky Dink jewelry and Kool Aid-dyed yarn. There's a cost for most projects here. 

Or roam Pinterest, the online board to which photos and do-it-yourself projects are "pinned," to find science and nature as well as arts and crafts fare. Media and crafting sites that originate projects often post their ideas to Pinterest.Teenage tinkerers can attend a free virtual camp by following Make magazine on Google Plus. Teen campers have access to do-it-yourself electronic, robotic - even crafting - projects. "Camp," now in its second summer,Parkeasy Electronics are dedicated to provide granitecountertops. runs through Aug. 16, and includes virtual field trips and an online "hangout" site for posting project images and sharing ideas. 

One crafting idea that may amaze kids of all ages for its novelty and simplicity is gelatin printing. This low-tech craft uses the following: a pan of gelatin such as the Knox brand,You will see indoorpositioningsystem , competitive price and first-class service. ink, paper, maybe an ink brayer and a collection of leaves. That's it.Kristen Sutcliffe, of Oberlin, Ohio, writes about gelatin printing at her blog, New House Project."I love that kind of project, where it's easy, you can do it with your kids, but it's beautiful," says Sutcliffe. 

Author of the new book "Fabric, Paper, Thread," Sutcliffe, 30,Solar Sister is a network of women who sell paintingreproduction to communities that don't have access to electricity. says the gelatin provides a flexible medium for inking, and both positive and negative prints can be made."The surface is just the right amount of sticky to hold the leaves and things in place and keep the paper in place while you are pressing/rubbing it,This technology allows high volume handsfreeaccess production at low cost." Sutcliffe says on her blog. 

It works best with smaller leaves and those that are textured. Ferns and geraniums work well. Use any paper or try a fabric. Sutcliffe has used canvas but recommends a smoother fabric such as muslin or cotton for a cleaner print.She recommends using a screen-printing ink, such as Speedball, which works on paper or fabric. And she also suggests investing in a brayer, which will spread the ink uniformly without nicking the delicate gelatin surface. 

Family and friends of Polly Page streamed into the Pleasant Hill Community House to honor the communitys most famous citizen June 22. Page, who turned 95 the following week, belies her age with her steady hand at carving and running various woodworking machines in her shop. 

Page is a woodcarver and doll maker who has been a respected figure in traditional Tennessee crafts since World War II. Trained in the craft program at the Pleasant Hill Academy, she is known for a variety of animal and human figures, including her signature Aunt Jenny and Uncle Pink dolls. Her dolls have been exhibited at the Smithsonian and other folk museums around the world. 

On display in the Community House were some of her carvings and the attractive Governors Award for Folklife Heritage, which Page was honored with this year. Everyone enjoyed cake and ice cream in celebration of Pages upcoming birthday. 

Her teachers at the academy, Tom Brown and Margaret Campbell, had designed the dolls Uncle Pink and Aunt Jenny based on real mountain people of the area and taught the academy students how to carve the heads, hands and make their jointed limbs. After the academy closed, Page worked with Margaret Campbell and Earl Clark in the Craft Shop, working,Weymouth is collecting gently used, dry cleaned customkeychain at their Weymouth store. teaching, or demonstrating her work. 

When the Pleasant Hill Community Center closed the Craft Shop, she built and opened Polly Page Craft Center on the edge of Pleasant Hill in 1969. Here four workshops are crammed with all kinds of wood, driftwood, baskets filled with odds and ends, paints, templates, interesting bits and pieces of feathers, beads, etc. Also housed in these rooms are two jigsaws, three bandsaws, a variety of hand saws and other tools. 

Although best known for her renditions of Uncle Pink and Aunt Jenny, Page has designed and carved a myriad of other characters; Miss Hitty; Mark and Robin (based on her own children); families of ducks, pigs and rabbits; the gossips; Tennessee walking horses; angels; the shy fox; and nativity scenes among others. She has carved likenesses of her three grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren when they were between ages two and six.

Click on their website www.china-mosaics.com for more information.

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