Felted Soap Makes A Splash with Local Students

It’s become a tradition for my daughter and I to attend “Colonial Days” at one of the local schools.  Every November we dig out my old Silver Dollar City dresses and pack up the spinning wheels, looms, and fiber to demonstrate some Old World skills in spinning, weaving, knitting, and the like.

This year, we wanted to share a hands-on project with the children – but it had to be kid-friendly for ages 3 to 10.  Kendra came up with the idea for Felted Soap, which she enjoyed at a craft fair not too long ago.  We gathered a few supplies (100 bars of soap and a whole lot of llama roving) and got set up.

Colonial Day Costumes(Both of these were my work dresses when I was 16 years old.  Yes, my daughter can wear it )

Colonial Day Costumes
(Both of these were my work dresses when I was 16 years old. Yes, my daughter can wear it )

Kendra prepares the work area
Kendra sets up with buckets of water, soap, and wool.

The children were thrilled to get their hands some fluff and start wrapping their soap bars.  Then they put them inside a piece of nylon stocking and added some old-fashioned elbow grease.

Agitating Fibers

Agitating the fibers to fuse, or felt, them together to encase the soap.

After several minutes of rub-a-dub-dub, we’re ready for the Big Reveal!  What will be inside this old hose?

The Big Reveal

Squeezing out excess water and peeling away the stocking reveals the magic.

And now we have our own exfoliating bars of soap that won’t leave a slippery mess in the shower!

Finished Felted Soap

Completed Felted Soap with Kool-Aid-Dyed wool

This is a terrific activity to do with your own kids at home, or your local homeschool or after school group!

If you’d like to try your hand at some felted soap, check out this video for complete instructions:

“Crummy Pap” or Classic Prose?

Technology can make a person feel like they just got pushed in the deep end of the pool.  Every new software release or “cutting-edge” gadget screams for attention – but is it the wave of the future, or just a shallow puddle?

E-books and Self-publishing get a lot of press today.  And when I see that much buzz about a game-changer in a field I love, I have one response – Scepticism.  (Should I fork over the dough for a Kindle, or a Nook, or wait or the next great thing?  I don’t know!)  But, I’m an open-minded gal, so I do a little research, a bit of querying friends, and then I remember my favorite barometer…history itself.  I came across this little nugget via Writer’s Almanac:

Sir Allen Lane, (born 1902), managing editor of London’s The Bodley Head, and later creator of Penguin Books, didn’t have anything to read on the train.  He had a long ride back from visiting one of his author’s – Agatha Christie – and refused the magazines and cheap literary fare available at the depot.  He thought, “Why isn’t there something good to read for sale, that people can afford?”  Penguin Pocket Books was born, making the hardbound publications accessible to everyone.

Writer’s Almanac reports,  “Lane was determined that paperbacks, then mostly low-quality products of low-quality writing, could be the vehicles of great, contemporary fiction… Like most innovations, Lane’s idea — and his success — was initially regarded as a cause for concern by many other publishers and writers. It lowered the aesthetic value of great works of literature — a book like The Grapes of Wrath, for example, needn’t be a beautifully bound hardcover to last a lifetime, but could instead exist as a nearly disposable pocket-sized tome in bright orange, adorned with a funny little bird in mid-waddle. But Lane claimed paperbacks would effectively democratize literature, converting frequent library users to book buyers and readers of crummy pap into readers of classic prose.”

Sounds a little like the furor over E-Readers, doesn’t it? 

How about the uproar about self-publishing?

As Steven Anderson (of GoldMinds Publishing) stated recently in a presentation (read more here), the publishing world has a history of trends – the era of hardbacks was replaced by the era of dime novels, then mass market paperbacks (thanks Sir Allen!).  Now we are faced with a new epoch in the life of literature – digital access, for both readers and writers.

Where do you stand on the issue of digital publishing?  Love e-readers, but hate self-publishers?  Devoted to paper books no matter who writes them?  Has history proven that changes in format and accessibility eventually find a balance

– and does quality rise to the top?

  Leave your comments below and give us YOUR perspective on publishing!

Whistling Girls and Window-Spitters (The all-true tales of an Ozark town)

Can a man be shot for spitting on a window? Is it illegal to whistle on a public street?  You’d be surprised what was once law, and lawless, in the city of Hollister, Missouri!

HollisterCity Manager, Rick Ziegenfuss, was kind enough to give our group at the Ozarks Writers Conference a brief tour of the historic district and a very informative slide show.  Here are a few photos of Ye Olde English Inn…and see if you can guess these town tidbits!

Ye Olde English Inn on historic Downing Street

Lobby & Grand Staircase

Balcony & Rock Work

Take it from the top...

Writers break for lunch at Little Hacienda Mexican Restaurant

Now, let’s see how you did…

Historic Downing Street was once named Front Street.  Otto Kohler was a strongman for the circus.  Birdcage Alley was once Broadway, where all the front doors of the buildings faced (away from the railroad).  That heavy-hitter was Babe Ruth, and only Popcorn Pete McAllister could be the demon barber of Downing Street!

Thanks for playing, and be sure to visit historic Hollister, Missouri!