Replica Snowshoes and New Sugar Shack.

     Snow is melting, spring is here, still waiting for a bit more snow to recede so I can find that tool I left out and have been missing since December.
     I've finished the replica snowshoes and they turned out pretty nice. These shoes are a near extinct style that are still made and used in the north by the Cree. But to find a historical pair, which is what I copied for these, from this far south and west in something of a treat for me. I believe this style of shoe turned into what we call today the Ojibwe style shoes. The difference is that these have a very sharp turn at the just the tip of the shoe, which the modern Ojibwe's don't. The modern shoes have more of the toe bent up than just the tip. Most of the historic shoes in northern Wisconsin that I've seen are more the the round toe shoes. Anyway, these have a real tight weave which was pretty much the norm before the manufactured snowshoe era of the early 1900's to present. They also have some tufts of colored wool cloth with the main section wrapped with red wool, again pretty standard stuff for the 1800's. The shoes I copies were from the mid 1800's and belonged to a Metis (mixed blood French and Native) named Pierre Bottineau who was a fairly important figure in Minnesota history in the mid 1800's. There is a fascinating account of some of his history as well as some info of the late fur trade era here.

     We've also spent some time this past week building a new "sugar shack" for boiling down the maple sap into syrup. This will be covered by tarps and the top area will have a split basswood shingle covered copula along the ridge. I'll post more pictures when its in full operation later this week. It looks like we'll have a good "run" of sap on Wednesday and Thursday. I hope we have a good year. Last year we didn't tap due to an extreme heat wave in the early spring.

There is another post brewing in my mind relating the the words "art" and "craft" and how we've come to use them in this modern era. I've been reading what I can on the subjects and it comes down to me wanting to severe my ties with the modern craft world. I think they have hijacked the word "craft" in their quest to be artists/sculptors to nobodies benefit. More on that one later.........

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