Sunday, May 23, 2010

Willow Whistle

I have a very special guest artist today. My Father. When we were little he would make us willow whistles in the spring and early summer when the sap was still flowing. It has been years since he made one but he came out of willow whistle retirement just to teach me how he made those wonderful whistles. I have great memories of watching him whittle away the wood and of running barefoot through the grass whistling as loudly as I could on my new whistle once he was done. While Dad worked on this whistle he told me about how his Grandfather had taught him how to make the whistles. Thank you Dad for passing this knowledge on to me so I can share this with my future children. First you need to find your stick. It needs to be cut fresh while the sap is still flowing. Choose a branch that is about the width of an adult thumb, fairly straight, a minimum of 6 inches, and has few knots. We chose a branch that was rubbing against another branch and would have been taken out anyway. Next using a sharp knife cut a mouth piece at an angle and then blunt the end. Then cut a small rectangle opposite of the side of the mouth piece. Just cut deep enough to remove the bark (just think of how a recorder looks). About 6 inches from the mouth piece cut a straight line all the way around the branch. Cut just deep enough to go though the bark. Then gently tap the twig along its length and all around. Be careful not to tap so hard that you crack the bark. Once the bark is cracked it will not work properly. Finally, twist and pull along the bark till it slips off of the branch. Hold the bark carefully so it does not crack.
For this next part I needed my Father's help. My hand is still in a splint from Mother's day so I was unable to use the strength I needed to whittle away the wood. On the wood part he cut a thin line along the top of the mouth piece and a long groove. I used a red line in the second picture to indicate where to cut. When I was younger he would make the groove longer and put holes along the bark above the grove to create finger holes. Once you are done; carefully slip the bark back over and line it up to where it was before you slipped it off. Your done! This may take a few practice attempts to get it right. As the sap dries out your whistle may stop working, if you re-wet with water it may start working again. You can also use Maple or any other wood that the bark slips freely from. Thank you for reading, good luck and have fun! I leave you with something my Father used to say, and said again while teaching me how to make this willow whistle.

"I once made a wood whistle, but it wooden whistle.
Then I made a steel whistle, and it steel would not whistle.
Then I made a tin whistle, now I tin whistle."

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Straw Hat Floral Sticks

Happy Mother's Day! I write about the things I do with my Mum often in my blogs. She is an amazing woman. A Master Gardener, Tree inspector, and a fierce protector of her children. I don't know when or if Bear and I will have any children, but I'm glad that I have such a wonderful Mum to teach me everything a mother should be and so much more. Thank you Mum and Happy Mothers day! Today is a day to honor our Mothers and many of us do that with flowers. This craft is how to make an inexpensive and beautiful floral stick to tuck into a floral arrangement.

1. You will need: Bamboo skewers, Ribbon, small decorations, hot glue, and small straw hats. I bought everything here at Michaels Craft store except the skewers; those I bought at a grocery store.
2. Using hot glue secure a piece of ribbon around the straw hat.
Glue the little ornaments that you choose to use around the ribbon on the brim of the hat. I used little ribbon roses but any number of small objects will work like beads, feathers, moss, shells and so forth.
4. Finally glue the Bamboo skewer to the back of the straw bonnet. It is now ready to tuck into an arrangement.
5. One last thing... Happy Mothers day and Have Fun!