Tag: vintage skills

Crazy Useful Thing of the Day: Esparto

Esparto grass

The name “esparto grass” refers to two species of perennial plants in the grass (Poaceae) family, Stipa tenacissima and Lygeum spartum. Both species are native to the Western Mediterranean, primarily North Africa and the southern Iberian Peninsula.  Both are cultivated for the leaf fiber,… Continue Reading “Crazy Useful Thing of the Day: Esparto”

Crazy Useful Thing of the Day: Nutmeg

Nutmeg (Myristica fragrans)

Nutmeg (Myristica fragrans) is a species of evergreen tree in the nutmeg (Myristicaceae) family, native to the Moluccas (formerly known as the Spice Islands) of Indonesia, but now widely cultivated throughout the tropical regions.  It is the best-known member of the Myristica genus, as… Continue Reading “Crazy Useful Thing of the Day: Nutmeg”

Crazy Useful Thing of the Day: Borax

Twenty mule team borax wagon

Borax (Sodium borate) is a white crystalline compound found in volcanic regions, and in arid regions on the bed of evaporated salt lakes.  The small town of Boron, in California, is home to the U. S. Borax Boron Mine, an enormous open-pit mine that… Continue Reading “Crazy Useful Thing of the Day: Borax”

Masters of Cottage Industry: Terry’s Tinker Shop

Terry Thompson makes beautiful wool rag rugs with scraps from the Pendleton factory and a loom he built himself.

Masters of Cottage Industry: Blue Ox Millworks

For forty-six years, Eric Hollenbeck of Blue Ox Millworks has been a champion in the craftman’s revolution.

Crazy Useful Thing of the Day: Bambara Groundnut

Bambara groundnut

The Bambara groundnut, also known as the Congo goober (Vigna subterranea), is a species of annual plant in the pea (Fabaceae) family, native to tropical Africa, but now cultivated in many tropical regions; it is particularly important in West Africa.  It is closely related… Continue Reading “Crazy Useful Thing of the Day: Bambara Groundnut”

Word of the Day: Strake

Old wagon wheels with strakes.

A strake is a section of iron laid around the rim of a wooden cart of wagon wheel.  The purpose of the strake is to protect the wooden rim from damage.  The manufacture of the strake is the domain of the blacksmith, where the… Continue Reading “Word of the Day: Strake”

Crazy Useful Thing of the Day: Cod

Image of cod

Cod is a name that refers to the two species of fish in the genus Gadus, in the Gadidae family. They are the Pacific cod (G. macrocephalus), and the Atlantic cod (G. morhua).  Of these, the Atlantic cod is by far the most intensively… Continue Reading “Crazy Useful Thing of the Day: Cod”

Crazy Useful Thing of the Day: Mangosteen

Purple mangosteen

The mangosteen is a species of evergreen tree in the Clusiaceae family, native to Southeast Asia, but now cultivated in several other tropical areas.  It is cultivated for its edible fruit, the purple mangosteen.  It is the most widely cultivated species within the Garcinia… Continue Reading “Crazy Useful Thing of the Day: Mangosteen”

Master of Cottage Industry: Pacific Flake Sea Salt

Sea Salt Flakes

Pacific Flake Sea Salt is a salt harvestry located in a tiny corner of what was once a huge Louisiana Pacific pulp mill out on the Samoa Peninsula, just across Humboldt Bay from my hometown of Eureka, California.