Thursday, June 16, 2016

Handmade History: Beekeeping

By Kate McCreight, guest blogger

Minnesota spring days have turned to summer, light breezes, birds chirping, accompanied by the drone of bees flitting around our backyard gardens. For some Minnesotans, the bees come from their own backyard colony. Beekeeping is becoming an increasingly popular part of urban farmettes and rural farms, but it is a practice that dates back nearly 5,000 years.  (Collecting honey from wild bee colonies dates back even further.) 

Save the bees notecard, Sharon's Compendium

Honey bees are not native to the Western Hemisphere, and were first imported by English colonists in the early 1600s. The bees slowly migrated further westward by both artificial means (transported by settlers) and natural swarms. 

For millennia, beekeepers used hives made of straw, wooden boxes, or pottery vessels. The design of these hives meant honeycomb was nearly impossible to remove, the colony would be killed in order to remove the honey. In the mid-nineteenth century, L.L. Langstroth patented his movable comb hive,  which is the type of hive keepers use today. In this hive, separate frames are able to be individually removed to harvest the honeycomb without harming the bee colony. 

Beeswax quickly became an important item of commerce for the early Colonists and onward, with hundreds of thousands of pounds exported in 1770 (honey is not mentioned in the record). The primary usage of beeswax was for candle making, a vital household need in the years before electricity.

Pair of pure beeswax candles, beehive skep and honeybees, Sweet Bee Honey and Crafts
Beeswax has a multitude of other uses: cheese waxing, waterproofing, polishing furniture, and salves. 
Walnut beaver teether, conditioned with beeswax, Oak Tree Arts
Honey is, of course, the other primary bee product. (The harvest season is typically late summer to early fall - as such, there are no HandmadeMN beekeepers offering honey at this time.) Aside from it's deliciousness, honey is also be used in cosmetics, a hangover cure, preserving fruit, and as a natural energy booster. 

Minnesota currently ranks in the top 5 states for honey production, and actively participates in moving migratory bees to California and southern states for pollination and over-wintering. Bees are also kept in Minnesota through the winter months. Ways you can help our native bee population are by eliminating pesticide use, plant wildflowers, and let the dandelions grow (they are an important first food for early spring bees).

Further reading: 
Minnesota Hobby Beekeepers Association:
Beesource, History of Beekeeping in the United States:

This post is part of a monthly series exploring the intersection of history and modern Minnesota makers. Is there a craft or technique you want to explore? Let me know in the comments! 

Monday, June 13, 2016

Father's Day Gift Guide

by Cindy Lindgren
Cindy Lindgren
Get creative and think beyond a neck tie this year when shopping for Father's Day. Our team has made it easy by suggesting the following gifts for those special guys.

For the Dad that enjoys making up a story about a Pork Pie Hat somersaulting into a Large Mouth Bass at the local watering hole. Stained Glass Bluegill by Western Art Glass

For the nature loving Dad who might need a coaster once in a while, Personalized Set of 4 Drink Coasters by My Little Chick

For that earthy guy whole likes personal adornments,Fine Silver and Leather Bracelet by Candyce Westfield

Perfect for the Dad who likes to keep things simple, as well as for the Dad who needs a little help staying organized, Men's  Zip Pouches in three sizes by MinneBites

For the beer lover, a Shaving Soap Set with Minnesota Beer in the soap by Kiyi Kiyi

For the man who is eco-friendly, hip and whose nose requires a soft blow, Hand dyed Handkerchiefs by Palettepassion

For the father who never remembers to put the keys where they're suppose to go, an Iron Key Holder by Ken's Custom Iron

For the man that wants to look good, a Rustic Copper Hand Forged Bracelet by Metaling Susie

For the Dad that's a hunter,an outdoors guy, or who is as obsessed with antlers and coffee, Stag Ghost Ceramic Mug by nBaxter Pottery

For the Garden Guy, a Rain Gauge of Banded Taconite or Ely Greenstone by Naturally Unique Rock

Shake it up with this Birch Cocktail Shaker by Just Turned

For the tool Dad, a 7 Piece Professional Screwdriver Set from Evies Tool Emporium
For the Dad who likes natural, organic support while relaxing, a Buckwheat Hull Pillow by Naturally Mn


Monday, June 6, 2016

ROAD TRIP! June shows make for fun outings

By Sharon Parker
Sharon's Compendium

Over Memorial Day weekend the hubby and I were carless because our twenty-something daughter borrowed the Honda Fit and headed east with two of her pals to WisCon, a feminist SF convention in Madison, Wisconsin. As we wished them a safe trip, I found myself feeling a little wistful—what could be better than a Midwestern road trip with friends on a summer weekend?

Road Trip handcarved rubber stamp from TC Witchcraft Factory

So when I noticed that three June art events we have listed on the HandmadeMN blog (here) were well outside the Twin Cities metro region, I thought: ROAD TRIP! 

If that sounds like your kind of fun, here is a brief guide to three delightful events for lovers of art, fine craft, activities for all ages, and a little get-out-of-town distraction.

This weekend, June 11–12, head north to Grand Forks, North Dakota, for the Grand Cities Art Fest in downtown Grandforks and East Grandforks; 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and 10 to 4 on Sunday. The event features 120 artists, entertainment, hands-on activities for kids and their grownup companions, and lots of dining options, in a festive celebration of the two Forks, spread out across Town Square, the Greenway, and Cabela's parking lot.

Among the artists showcasing their works are HandmadeMN team members Jan and Mark of the shop Naturally Unique Rock, who make functional rock creations, like these card and photo stands; they come with a framed nature photograph, which you can replace with your own photo if you like. Visit their shop on Etsy to preview more of the items you can buy from them. 

Rock display stand from Naturally Unique Rock

A little closer to the Twin Cities, Hugo, Minnesota's Good Neighbor Days is a four-day festival hosted by the Hugo Lion's Club, from June 9 to 12, with a craft and vendor fair on Saturday, June 11, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. in Lions Park. Be sure to get there by 11 to catch the parade, then enjoy a leisurely stroll through the craft and vendor fair, which takes place only on Saturday. Other features of the festival include a beer garden and lots of great food, plus carnival rides, a Story Stroll at 1:00, and more. They consider it an end-of-school celebration, so there's a whole bunch of family-friendly activities. Visit the website linked above to see the whole schedule.

The craft fair includes our own Michelle Stangl, selling her fine silver, gold, gemstone and pearl jewelry—all handcrafted during naptime! Visit her Etsy shop,  My Naptime Jewelry to get a look at the variety of unique handmade jewelry she'll have on hand, such as this raw peridot necklace on a rose gold chain.

Raw peridot pendant necklace from My Naptime Jewelry

The following weekend, June 18 to 19, brings the Majestic Pines Arts and Fine Crafts Fair to Nisswa, Minnesota, at the Pioneer Village in downtown Nisswa. It takes place from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, June 18, and from 9 to 3 on Sunday.

It's another opportunity to buy some rustic and beautiful functional rock creations made by Jan and Mark, in case you can't make it to Grand Forks on the previous weekend.  Perhaps a granite cheese board  will be the perfect gift for a summer wedding?

Cheese board from Naturally Unique Rock

Nisswa is also pretty much in the heart of Minnesota vacation country, so if you want to know more about visiting the area, check out the Nisswa Chamber of Commerce website for more info. 

Have a safe and fun trip! We'll keep the porch light on for you.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Bootlegged Copy of OFFICIAL HandmadeMN First Thursday of every Month Blog Post, Or, Whatever Happened To My Copy of Homer Price?

Walking west on Lake Street towards Cedar Avenue...what once upon a time was Longfellow Gospel chapel tucked into a seam between two alleys to my left, and the cemetery across the street.  Phillip Marlowe woke up with a start, daydream scattered like an upturned cart run over by a Lamborghini in a Felini film about nothing in particular.  And that's when he noticed the dragon staring past him, into the large screen TV set propped in the corner.

Free Form Peyote Stitch Beaded Bracelet - Dragon - Bead Weaving

…the diabolical red shoes skipping like a stone across Lake Harriet from his youth.  Whose youth? Mouthed a surprised lizard while ordering a Two Hearted Ale on tap at Matt’s.  And don’t get me started on onion sandwiches, eh?

There Are No Words Ballet Painting with hand-lettering - Original Acrylic 9" x 12"

Meanwhile, as I skirted my way east on 35th Street towards 23rd Avenue, practically bumping into a Jerry Garcia doppelganger humming To Be Sung of a Summer Night on the Water by Fred Delius, where a strange flower growing from a crack in the concrete sidewalk caught my abstract eye.

Blue and Green - Musical Outburst Necklace - Fused Glass Pendant

Billy Shakespeare (sporting a sweat stained baseball cap and Etsy’s Featured Seller Xenotees T-shirt) was munching a left over slice of Fat Lorenzo’s pizza in one hand and rakishly manipulating a dandelion puller in the other hand, when he suddenly blurted out, “All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players:  they have their exits and their entrances.”  Nurse Nancy, from across the alley, shouted over, “By the way, Wm…those dandelions are a great feast for the honeybees…why don’t you leave ‘em alone?”

Handmade silver earrings, hand forged dome, blue Czech glass globe

Edgar was reading his dog-eared copy of Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus in three volumes, when he saw the neighbor’s faces peering in the kitchen window again.  What was so fascinating about being albino? he wondered out loud.  And what does this have to do with Silchas Ruin?  Oh…hold on…did you say Edgar Allan Poe? My mistake…Edgar Winter absentmindedly whispered, “Thus quoth the raven…” and finished hanging up his Xenotees Animal Plural - Murder of Crows T-shirt on the clothesline.  And that was…

Edgar Allan Poe Decorative Pillow - On Gray Fabric

Strung together by Brian Western

Maple Bowl

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