Howdy, Happy, Spring!

Greetings, all! Here are new books (mine and others’), some interesting and/or worthwhile videos, and more stories (and pix) if you care to read on…

Make a Ray Jacobs Rocky Mountain Dulcimer: Build this Gorgeous sounding instrument from a 2×4, cardboard, & plywood. It’s cheap, beautiful, & east-to-build-and-play. By Kiko Denzer. FREE pdf here, $10 special color paperback here
Satisfy the Image: The Wisdom of Your Dreams & Guided Imagery for Self-Balancing. By Ann Sayre Wiseman. FREE pdf here, $15 special color paperback here

Japan’s Clay Walls: A Glimpse into their Tradition of Plastering. By Emily Reynolds$18 special direct from the author. Send payment by paypal to Tell her you’re on the Hand Print Press mailing list to get the discount.

Make Magazine invited Max, Eva, and me to do a group interview via a “Google Hangout,” a Skypey kind of thing where four of us sat in front of three computers and talked about ovens and mud. Interesting and fun (for us, at least)! Click here.
Ray and Shirley Jacobs playing their cardboard dulcimers – click on beautiful!
Neighbors Flip and John Anderson have come up with a lovely little Rocket Oven design that we’re featuring here on the homepage.
The Barrel Oven on Television! Max and Eva’s efficient, easy to use oven in action as they harvest and cook food from the garden for a show called Man, Fire, Food.
Paul Wheaton at will be posting a story about a portable Rocket Mass Heater — really! on the HPP home page. If you’d like to see an advanced rocket stove workshop condensed onto 4 DVDs, look him up on Kickstarter.
Beautifully (musically!) hand-made bricks, here (see also the symphony of metal-workers all hammering a shared lump of brass — both stunning demonstrations of how to weave art and labor into whole cloth: beautiful and useful); from a UK artist named Stephen Follen.
About Ray Jacobs and his cardboard dulcimer
 primitive tools.jpgImagine spending a week sitting around making and learning all manner of arts: flint-knapping, bows & arrows, simple shoes, hats of felt and fiber, hide-tanning, home butchering, blacksmithing, etc. That’s a primitive skills gathering – a village of competent, contented craftsmen who take pleasure in each other’s company, sharing, trading, teaching, learning, with kids running free all over.
So last year an old guy (well, older than me) showed up at one of these gatherings to teach people how to make a 3-stringed instrument from scrap wood and cardboard. It sounded AMAZING! His name was Ray, and he’d taught 4th grade for 20 years in Eureka, MT.
He developed the “Rocky Mountain Dulcimer,” so his students could make and learn to play their own instruments. I was inspired. “Only three strings? I could play that!” Ray and his wife Shirley are wonderful folk and full of stories, too. I thought someone should write a book, but noone got as excited as I was. So, when I took the family back east in October, we visited Ray and Shirley for a few days. He and I put a dulcimer together, I took notes and pictures, and now it’s a book.
FREE pdf here, $10 special color paperback
here. (Amazon reviews greatly appreciated!)
Rays dulcimer.CVRsm.jpg
As I try to launch the book (and learn the instrument) I’m finding all manner of variations on this theme: cigar box guitars, strum stix, oil-can guitars. And folks like Andy Mackie, an amazing guy with terminal heart disease who decided to use his medicine budget to buy harmonicas as a parting gift to a school full of kids – all of whom he taught to play. For the next decade or two, he beat his prognosis and lived on the love and gratitude from the kids and families he taught – and made and gave away thousands of hand-made instruments and harmonicas, started a music foundation, and enriched the lives of many.
For more inspiring stories, see:; landfill harmonic on vimeo; and Venezuela’s “el sistema” (a statewide program that uses music to grow strong, competent, happy citizens – and some of the world’s best musicians – often from the poorest communities).
Satisfy the Image: working with dreams and images
Sat.Img.CVRsm.jpgAnn Sayre Wiseman (my mom, who wrote Making Things when she was working for the Boston Childrens’ Museum in the 70s), uses art and imagery to help people solve problems and personal challenges. She is particularly interested in how dreams provide answers. This year, she finished a compact summary of her work called Satisfy the Image: The Wisdom of Your Dreams and Guided Imagery for Self-Balancing.
It distills decades of experience into a simple process of solving problems by “satisfying the image.” “You are the method,” she says, and “it’s the doing that heals, creates change, and enlightens.” The proof is in the stories of people who suddenly gain a new image of self, or problem, and potent new strategies.
Recommended for parents, teachers, students, and anyone looking to gain understanding and tools with which to improve their lives. Clear, practical, inspiring, and abundantly illustrated (in full color!) Michael Smith did the editing. Thanks, Michael!
FREE pdf here, $15 special color paperback here Please do review it on Amazon!
Japan’s Clay Walls, and Emily Reynolds
Near me, in Corvallis, Jay Gray has built a beautiful, traditional Japanese garden. Last year, he called me about mud plasters. We talked, I visited, and a few months later, he called me back and invited me to lunch. He’d hired a woman from Colorado named Emily Reynolds because she specialized in Japanese plasters, and had apprenticed with a Japanese master plasterer. After lunch, Emily gave me a gorgeous little book she’s put together called Japan’s Clay Walls, which opens up a wonderful and immensely useful window into whole worlds that I’ve been dying to learn about.
The techniques include ways to minimize separation cracks between wood and mud, building bamboo lattice on which to apply the mud (and to make very thin walls), rope reinforcement, mixes, layering, trowel & hawk technique, and decorative details. There are many photos (in color!), and Emily illustrates it with useful explanatory diagrams.
Emily grew up partly in Japan, speaks the language, and seems to me to have achieved – and shared – a “beginner’s mind”: open, receptive, and humble. I’m unlikely to get to Japan and apprentice myself to a master, but with this book, I can experiment and test my own understandings and adaptations with confidence and inspiration.
For a (discounted!) copy, send Emily $18 in payment and mention that you’re on my list (best is to use paypal and send payment to Depending on the response, we’ll consider adding her book to our offerings at Thanks, Emily!
This year’s Projects and Events
lathe.jpgLast summer I made a foot powered lathe, which has expanded my wood-carving activities (Isaac, 9, made wooden swords on a shave-horse, and sold $120 worth in one weekend!) My inspiration (and youtube mentor) is an English guy named, appropriately, Robin Wood. Look him up and watch him work. He’s also written a wonderful book about his craft: The Wooden Bowl.
My mom is unwell, so I’m sticking close to home but I am hoping to make it back to the Buckeye Gathering (CA) and Echoes in Time (OR). If I’m lucky, I’ll be able to camp in a new canvas pop-up stick tent modeled on basic yurt principles. I’m hoping to write that up for the website one of these days…
Come June, we’re expecting to be back at the Mother Earth News fair in Puyallup WA, perhaps with a barrel oven demo as well as a regular earth oven!

Now it’s spring I’m starting to carve again and turning out new dustpans, bowls, and spoons of various shapes and sizes. Next week Max and I get to spend a couple of days carving and making tools.
I also expect to be finishing two yurts at Aprovecho Institute during their sustainable shelter workshop series. There’s a new roof and renovations to do at home (including new stove and oven), and the same to do at the local community hall. So many projects, so little time!
And while September seems far away, we’re hoping to make it back to the Kneading Conference West (there’s an East, too, if you’re closer to Maine).
2013 Workshops with Max and Eva Edleson

Wood-Fired Barrel Oven at Big Bear Camp August 17-18, 2013Wood-Fired Barrel Oven at Montana Creamery September 28-29, 2013Homesteading for Women- Permaculture Tools for Self-Reliant Living

June 22-23, 2013. Learn to build with slip chip and light straw clay; explore homesteading basics, whole systems design, natural building, solar hot water, and edible landscape design in a comfortable and supportive environment. Make your environment efficient, bountiful, and beautiful.

Parting thought
In 1888, Vincent Van Gogh wrote to his brother Theo: “In the end, we shall have had enough of cynicism, skepticism and humbug, and will want to live – more musically.”
No matter how cynical you get, it’s never enough to keep up. Why fight a losing battle? How can we make more joy, more music!?
The daffodils are up here. May spring raise you up as well, to new life and new blossoms.
— Kiko Denzer

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One Comment

  1. I wrote a note on one of the other views today–How to build a fire– I am not sure you will get it or if you will have the time to help. Sorry to here about your mom. Maybe I can help with any questions you might have about her health. Among other things, I am an old still practicing MD. God Bless, Louie Crook

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