Friday, December 21, 2012

Native American Winter Wonderland

SnowPictures 006

It looks like we will have a white Christmas at our Northern Minnesota outpost after all. This is the home of Sirocco’s Curios. Winter finally arrived when just a few days ago we got our first significant snowfall. Winter has been slow to get underway here and I was beginning to get a bit worried. We have been in a drought situation for over a year now. There was not a lot of rain or snow last year and it was unseasonably warm. It is still too warm. The snow came down in big giant flakes and collected on the trees. There they froze giving rise to a picturesque winter wonderland. I snapped a few pictures and added one here for you to see.

When I am not sitting in the cabin and looking out the big picture window at the winter wonderland, you will find me in my little studio working with beads, leather, and silver fabricating various adornments in the Native American style. I just recently completed these two necklaces. You can find these and other such items in my on line store, Sirocco’s Trading Post. I invite you to stop in and take a look around.

 Necklace3 NewTruquoiseNecklace

Monday, December 10, 2012

Angels Trimming the Christmas Tree by Peggy Toole

Christmas Plate 2

Angels! It is the Ecrater Stores Network (ESN) theme for this week. And, I have just the item in my curios shop that features angels. It is the 1995 Christmas plate by Avon titled “Trimming the Christmas Tree.” The plate features two winged angels draping a garland of roses on a Christmas tree. The image is from an original painting by Peggy Toole. Peggy Toole is a contemporary artist and fabric designer from Colorado Springs, Co. She also designs greeting cards and produces art for license. The plate is fine porcelain and is a worthy collectable. Click on the link above to find the plate or click on Sirocco's Curios to find other interesting curios.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Arrow Maker, a Goudey Collectable Chewing Gum Card, Ojibway Tribe



This week’s blog word is “arrow.” While many thoughts come to mind when I think of the word arrow, “Indians,” with their bows and arrows comes to mind first. That is because I just recently listed in my curios store a collectable, Goudey, non-sports, chewing gum card featuring an Indian. You can find the listing by clicking here. Arrow Maker is the name of the Ojibwe Indian pictured on the card.

The Goudey gum company was one of the first companies to introduce collectable cards with their chewing gum in the 1930s. In addition to Indians and sports related themes they also had famous Americans, show biz celebrities and other themes. You can find many other curios in my store, Sirocco's Curios. I invite you to stop in and take a look around.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Fishing Line and The Red Knife by William Kent Krueger


When I saw the word for the ESN theme of the week, “lines,” the first thing that came to my mind was “fishing line.” Being from Minnesota, the land of 10,000 lakes, I do quite a little fishing so it should not be too surprising that I would think of fishing line. Minnesota is the land of fresh water fishing.

In the old days fishing was an important food source for the Ojibwa Indians. Northern Minnesota is the land of the Ojibwa (also known as Chippewa or more correctly known as Anishinabe) and I am a member of one of the tribes. Fishing was an important food source but we did not use hook and line. We used a net. Nearly every Indian carried a small net that he could roll out in the evening and could haul it back in the morning full of fish. The fish were cleaned, cooked and eaten or smoked for later use. Every fish was eaten, not just the best tasting ones.

Today nets are not allowed except in very special cases. I guess catching fish would be too easy using a net. We must use a hook and line. We can however, have the use of a gas powered motorized boat equipped with a remote controlled trolling motor, an electronic fish finder, and electronic GPS tracking equipment. We can use special graphite fishing rods with high quality fishing reels equipped with specially engineered fishing line. And, there is all manner of fishing lures to use. All very expensive of course! And, naturally, while fishing, one would want to be wearing his special all weather Eddy Bauer fishing clothes. All this, just to catch a few fish that most likely the Department of Natural Resources stocked there just for that purpose. Some people, if by chance, were to catch an especially large fish they might even have it stuffed for mounting on the wall. In other words, fishing has become very expensive.

It all seems a bit silly to me. I guess fishing has changed a lot since I was a kid. I still prefer to just sit in my chair at the end of my dock, cast out a hook baited with a dug-up worm or a captured grasshopper. In an hour I can catch a half dozen blue gills and maybe a big bass. Just enough to make one good meal! Maybe some day when my fishing rod and reel are worn out and useless I will mount “them” on the wall as a tribute to the number of meals it helped provide.4ec188aab45e4_24802n

Speaking of fishing and Indians, I will call your attention to a book that I have for sale in my curios shop. It is titled The Red Knife and is written by William Kent Krueger. Krueger is an exceptional mystery writer. Like all Krueger’s novels, The Red knife is a mystery and it takes place in Northern Minnesota. The main character, Corcoran O’Connor, is a private investigator and is part Ojibwa and in this novel much of the Ojibwa culture seeps through. Once you have read one of Krueger’s novels you will want to read them all. Stop in to Sirocco’s Curios shop and take a look around. There is more there than just books.


Monday, October 15, 2012

Vintage Gourd Canteen


Yesterday I went to a Native American auction. The auction was held at the Indian casino just a few miles from my Northern Minnesota cabin. Although the auction was advertised as a Native American auction, the auction was actually a mixture of old furniture, a lot of western horse tack, tobacco collectables and some Native American items.

I don’t usually buy much at such auctions. I just like to see what is there and what people are willing to pay. There are nearly always some fake Native American items. But, I did buy one item at this auction. It is a gourd canteen. It was advertised as from a Northwest coast tribe but no tribe name was given.

The gourd is straight and about 16 inches long. It is wide at the bottom end and narrow at the top end. It looks somewhat like a short plumped up baseball bat. There is a long leather strap made of harness leather that goes around the gourd the long way. The strap is decorated with sewn on cowry shells. Another strap is attached to the top and middle of the gourd. It is sewn in the middle and tacked at the top. The resulting loop is just long enough to hook the canteen over a saddle horn.

The cap is a leather cuff with a piece of the gourd sewn to the top. The cap fits snugly to the top of the gourd and could also be used a cup. The cap has two rows of green seed beads sewn around the bottom and two rows of red seed beads sewn around the top. There is also one row of white seed beads with a blue stripe sewn around the top. All of the beads are somewhat misshapen. The beads are probably Venetian and I believe the white beads with the blue stripe are somewhat rare. There is a little damage to the bead work but nothing too serious. It is evident the beads were sewn on with animal sinew.

I invite you to take a look at some of my own handiwork on display at Sirocco’s Trading Post on artfire.


Sunday, October 14, 2012

American Girl Doll Dream Catcher


Little Dream Catcher

This morning I was window shopping in Nancy’s Doll Closet, an eCrater on-line store. Nancy specializes in carrying clothes and accessories for the 18 inch American Girl Doll. My granddaughter loves those dolls and has at least two of them. Nancy is also a member of our ESN scavenger hunters club. We scavenger hunters look through each others store and try to find an item to blog about. The item must fit a theme, a theme that changes weekly.

The theme this week is “feathers” and while shopping in Nancy’s store I came across this cute little dream catcher sized for the 18 inch doll. It is complete with faux feathers.

I think most everyone knows the Native American dream catcher. While most all Indian tribes have some form the of the dream catcher in their culture, the dream catcher originated in the Ojibwa culture. Originally, dream catchers were small, only a couple of inches across. They were made by bending a thin willow branch into a circle and then using sinew to secure the circle and fabricate a web inside. It was then decorated with small feathers.

Hung on an infant’s cradleboard, it gave the infant something to focus on and play with. It also, as the legend goes, protected the sleeping baby from bad dreams. Bad dreams would be caught in the web while good dreams would pass down through the feathers. The legend changes a bit from tribe to tribe.

Today, the dream catcher is produced in every form one can think of. Some are large and hung on the wall or in a window. Small ones are hung from rearview mirrors or made into key ring embellishments, or, even used as Christmas ornaments. They are made into shapes like squares, triangles, or stars. They are used in jewelry as earrings, pendants, or bracelet charms. You find them embroidered onto T-shirts or sweatshirts. Some even tattoo them onto their skin.

I am always a bit amused that this little Ojibwa infant’s toy has become such a widely used element of artistic expression. The dream catcher in Nancy’s store is really cute. Take a look. Just click on the links above.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Preserve Feathers the Native American Way

Feathers x001

Feathers! “Feathers” is the ESN theme of the week and it is a theme that is right up my alley, so to speak. Being of Native American decent I know something about feathers. I routinely find bird feathers lying on the ground here at my Northern Minnesota outpost and of course I collect them up. The most common feathers that I find are black feathers either from a crow or a grackle. I also find feathers from the blue jay and a few from the red or yellow finch. The feathers at the left are some that I recently collected.

It is generally not recommended that one wash feathers in soap or detergent as the alkalinity of the solution can damage the feathers. I have, however, gently washed some in Woolite with no ill effects.

Feathers found in the wild can harbor microscopic organisms that slowly eat away at the feathers. One way to rid the feathers of such organisms is to put them in the freezer. It is an old Indian trick. I put them in the freezer for several days, take them out, brush them and then put back in the freezer again. I do this a few times and then finally store them in an aromatic cedar box.

Ultimately, I use the feathers to make adornments for Native American regalia. Such items are not for sale so you will not find them in my curios store but you can find this cute little pair of swan planters in my store. They are all covered with ceramic feathers. I do hope you will stop in to the Sirocco’s Curios store and take a peak at the planters and have a look around at all the curios for sale.


Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Metal Backed Lawn Chairs

ChairsOne thing we like to do at our north woods cabin is to sit out by the fire pit with a nice big fire going. We talk family issues, tell stories and make smores. We Native Americans are quite good story tellers, you know. Although in my case I am probably more of a bull shitter rather than a good story teller. Oh well!

What I don’t have is good chairs around the fire pit to sit on. I have some of those fold-up canvas chairs that work OK but I have to get them out and then put them back each time. I prefer something that can just stay out there all the time.

I had one old metal chair that I had repainted and that one worked out nicely so I decided the solution was to buy some old metal backed chairs and recondition them. I like working with my hands. I have been visiting garage sales, junk stores, and antiques shops looking for the old chairs.

So far I have found only three that I could get for a good price. I sanded them, primed them and painted them. You can see them in the picture. I think they came out quite good. They are all a different design and all a different color. I still need about three more. They are somewhat scarce though.

I invite you to visit Sirocco’s Trading Post where you will see some of my Native American handcrafted wares. Just click on the link.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Monkey Pod Wooden Fruit in a Bowl

Wooden Fruit

The rich brown color of this bowl of hand carved wooden fruit is truly pleasing to the eyes. It makes a wonderful center piece for a table or stand. The wood is from the tropical Monkey Pod tree. Hawaii is famous for making bowls, trays, fruit and other items from the wood of the Monkey Pod tree. While the tree grows in many other tropical areas, Hawaii is most famous for its use of the wood. The wood is also used to make veneers and guitars.

This bowl has eight pieces of fruit. I especially like the banana and the grapes. They are very nicely done. The bowl itself is not made of Monkey Pod. It is an older wooden bowl. You can find this item for sale in the Sirocco’s Curios Shop. Take a look.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Real Money


As you know, the social network, Ecrater Stores Network, picks a new topic each week for its members to blog about and this week the topic is “Labor Day.” Labor Day became a national holiday over 100 years ago in 1894 and it is a day to pay tribute to the labor movement which actually began some years earlier.

I got to thinking about what life might have been like in the 1890s. It must have been hard. Remember, travel was by horse. There wasn’t much in the way of electricity or telephone or even radio. Those were the days when one got up in the morning, went to work then came home and rested. Nowadays, one gets up, goes to work, comes home and then exercises.

I started sifting thorough our ESN member’s ecrater stores to see if I could find something to remind me of the 1890s. I came across this old Indian Head penny from 1895 in the Bargain Express store. The penny looks to be in excellent condition. Those were the years when we had real money. Copper coins were made of copper, silver coins were made of silver and gold coins were made of gold. Bargain Express has a number of real money coins for sale. Go ahead, take a look. Just click on the links.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Model Wooden Sailing Ship


I was looking through my ecrater store today and came across this very nicely made handmade model ship. Clearly, someone paid attention to detail and put a lot of time into gluing and rigging all the components to this little model. I would call it a labor of love. It reminded me that the first Monday of September is Labor Day and is celebrated both in the US and Canada. It is a day when we can pay tribute to the men and women who, through their labor, have added to the strength, freedom, and the well being of our nation. Stop in to the Sirocco's Curios store to see what other curiosities are for sale.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Man’s Western Belt Buckle

I haven’t been blogging much during the past couple of weeks. I do from time to time have to get, at least, a little work done around the old homestead and so occasionally have to take a hiatus from the computer.

The ESN blog theme this week is “pants.” Searching around through the eCrater stores of my fellow scavenger hunters, I found lots of items that could be worked into that theme. But, this belt buckle from Bargain Express caught my eye. If you are going to wear pants you will want to have just the right belt and buckle. For me, this would be it. Need I say more?

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Ladies Graduated Shell & Coral Necklace

Lip shell beads are beads cut from the lip of a sea shell. The shell can be just about any kind of shell. I have even seen such beads cut from turtle shells. Shell beads can come in a variety of colors including green, black, red, orange, purple, etc. I recently bought a string of graduated orange colored lip shells from a street vendor. He did not know the kind of shell but they could very well be from the spiny oyster. I thought it might make a fine necklace. I added some 10mm orange colored round beads and some sterling silver saucer beads to give the necklace a bit of character. The orange rounds look much like some kind of coral but they are Czech glass. The sterling silver saucer beads are some that I salvaged from an old broken squash blossom necklace. It is 23.5 inches long. I think it came out OK. What do you think? You can find this shell necklace for sale in my etsy shop.


Friday, July 6, 2012

The Perfect Fishing Cap

Northern Minnesota is certainly not known for its hot summers. It might be more known for its bitter cold winters. But this year the weather has been completely up-side-down. This past winter was extraordinarily warm and in addition there was little snow cover. I had thought it could turn out to be a very dry year. Spring came early but, with lots of rain and flooding. A dry year it is not. Now it is summer and the heat is almost unbearable. We are toying with 100 degree heat and that is quite unusual for this part of the country. And, all that rain just pumps up the humidity.
Sifting through the stores of some of my fellow scavenger hunters, I found some items that might make one think of cooler times. "Hot weather" is the ESN blog theme for this week.
One might want to serve up a nice dish of ice cream in this old time sherbet dish from Carolina Blue Lady’s store. Or, you could slip into one of these cool Hawaiian short sleeves from Eccentric Thrifter’s store. I like this silk AVANTI one. 
But my all time favorite is this really cool fishing cap from Embroidery Fashions Boutique. The elongated bill keeps the sun out of your eyes and the long flap in the back keeps the sun off your neck. Perfect for fishing!

Monday, June 18, 2012

Dakota Odowan Hymns in the Dakota Language


ESN has provided the word “Church” for this week’s blogging adventure. The idea is that I am to find a sale item in my shop that goes with that word. That’s easy! We sing hymns in church and I just happen to have such a book of hymns in my curios shop. But, there is something curios about the book that I have. It is written the Dakota American Indian language. This book was reprinted in 1964 from the original, copyrighted in 1879. Just click on the book’s title, Dakota Odowan to find the book. Check out Sirocco’s Curios for more curios items.


Friday, June 15, 2012

Tupperware Salad Set

If you are heading out to the beach for a swim you might want to take along a picnic basket and what better utensil is there for storing and transporting picnic food than Tupperware? One of my ESN Scavenger Hunter associates, Somethig4Myself, has just what you need. It is a Tupperware Salad Set. Take a look!


Sunday, June 10, 2012

Mallard Duck Figurine and Bottle Opener

The eCrater Stores Network has provided “swimming” for this week’s blogging theme. Duck2 And, what an appropriate theme it is. I went swimming for the first time this year yesterday. The lakes here in Northern Minnesota don’t warm up real fast so it was a bit chilly. But refreshing it was, considering that the temperature was in the 90s and the humidity was right up there too.

Ducks are, of course, good swimmers and I frequently see them swimming around in the shallows bays connected to the lake. I have a cute little duck figurine for sale in my curios shop. It is a high density resin molded around a metal plate. It is quite cute. But here is the curios part, if you turn it over you will find that it is actually a bottle opener. You gotta admit that’s cool. Bottle caps are usually twist off these days so you know this is probably a vintage item. Check out Sirocco's Curios.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Vintage Handmade Doilies



This week’s blog theme from the Ecrater Stores Network (ESN) is “housecleaning.” Well, I didn’t find anything in my ecrater shop that I thought fit that theme very well but I did find some delightful vintage handmade doilies in Eccentric Thriftier’s shop. The idea here is that once you have the house clean and neat you will want to put out these vintage doilies. Check out these fine doilies. I know you will like them.

Kitchen Canisters White Ceramic



You just got to love this kitchen canister set. It is a three piece white ceramic set with air tight lids. The flip open covers have a silicone gasket and a latching mechanism to create a super air tight seal. You should be able to keep just about anything in these canisters. You can find these canisters for sale in Sirocco’s Curios shop. Stop in and take a look around.