Kiko Denzer

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Useful Beauty for the kitchen

A Beautiful Spoon

Friends Charlene and Richard in Forest Grove let me sleep in their Garden while I was attending Aikido Summer Camp. They have converted their one-acre suburban lot into a beautiful permaculture garden and food forest that not only feeds them (and a local Latino family that uses part of it for their own market garden), but has also given them the means to develop an interesting educational program. They had talked to me about teaching spoon carving up there, so one evening they showed me their collection of spoons and kitchen utensils. One jar of spoons they had gotten from …

Spring 2013 News: Earth, Fire, Art…Music & Dreams!

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…

Gift books for Christmas: Make a Rocky Mountain Dulcimer

Ray Jacobs makes beautiful instruments

“In the end, we shall have had enough of cynicism, scepticism and humbug, and will want to live – more musically.” This quote (Vincent Van Gogh to his brother Theo), came to me from a friend, just before Christmas, 2012, as I was finishing this gift book about how to make a gorgeous-sounding 3-stringed instrument from scrap wood and cardboard. Details and story in the book, so more people can make their own music with their own neighbors. There’s an onscreen (pdf) version below, and a youtube video of Ray and Shirley playing for you. A $10, (full color!) paper …

Mud Mural at Colorado State University Pueblo, with Kiko Denzer

Getting mud to stick on the wall

Maya Aviña teaches fine arts at CSU in Pueblo, Colorado. For about the past ten years, she’s been immersed in natural building, which she has also made into the focus of her research at the college. Last year, she invited me to come be an “artist in residence” and do a mural project. The challenge was to bring life into dead space: a bleak, harsh, hard-edged, institutional (college) courtyard of grey and yellow concrete pressed down by massive, overhanging soffit walls of more cast concrete. It looked (and felt) like a pen in a zoo designed so the animals below …

A yurt of sticks and mud


2011 has been a year of yurts, w/two opportunities to try out this simple design of sticks and mud — a more permanent adaptation of the traditional, portable, Mongolian design. One was for a friend and neighbor. The other was a workshop at Aprovecho Institute, as part of their sustainable shelter building series. Lots of people helped! Both were made with locally harvested bamboo and fir poles (arranged reciprocally to make a self-supporting, conical roof w/a central skylight, which I’m still trying to figure out how to cover cheaply…) Here’s a little picture book about the whole process.…

Heat your masonry oven with a clean, top-down fire


Heat your masonry oven with a clean, top-down fire

The top-down fire works well for masonry ovens, stoves, and fireplaces, as well as outdoor fires. It’s simple: dry fuel, small sticks (plenty of surface area), plenty of volume where fuel and oxygen can mix — and kindling on top, so the fire burns down, clean and hot. Think of a candle: the flame on top pre-heats the fuel (wax) below, as well as the incoming combustion air. The wick burns hot, bright, and clean, so all you get is light and heat — a perfect fire! If you use it …

Tribal Genealogical Patterns: A Universal Language?

[download this pattern as an envelope design here]

’the folk has thus preserved, without understanding, the remains of old traditions that go back sometimes to the indeterminably distant past, to which we can only refer as “prehistoric”…’ Had the folk beliefs not indeed once been understood, we could not now speak of them as metaphysically intelligible, or explain the accuracy of their formulation.

—    Ananda Coomaraswamy, “The Nature of ‘Folklore’ & ‘Popular Art,’” Quarterly Journal of the Mythic Society, 27, Bangalore, 1936.


Carl Schuster, a little-known art historian, spent about thirty years of his working life wandering …

Links (also click on “Maya’s homepage”)
New Village Press, Publisher of Works of Heart, building Village through the Arts, …with Heather Beal, Kiko Denzer, Alicia Hokanson, Annie Lanzilotte, Clare Marcus, Pamel Michael, Kate Yee, Eds Lynne Elizabeth & Suzanne Young. See also their other books on Community and the Arts
Michael Pollan on Community Ovens, The 36-Hour Dinner Party, in the New York Times
Living More with Less, 30th Anniversary Edition, Herald Press (there’s an entry on “Cob House Life” a little ways down the page)
Little House on a Small Planet, by Shay Salomon & Nigel Valdez Continue reading

Adding masonry to increase wood stove efficiency

about 300 pounds of masonry moderates a small space

Adding masonry to increase wood stove efficiency

By adding masonry and mud to an old cast-iron wood stove, I greatly increased its efficiency — and it even has an oven! (note the wooden door on the right, just above the iron stove door). The wood that used to over-heat me, briefly, in the morning, now keeps me comfortably warm all day, and into the next morning (depending on how long I fire it and how cold it is). And, unlike most iron stoves, it no longer generates that fierce, dry heat that you can only moderate by burning wet wood, …

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