Showing posts with label handicrafts. Show all posts
Showing posts with label handicrafts. Show all posts

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Tuesday's Folklore Photo: Birch Brooms In Our Midst

Today’s Tuesday Folklore photos are of Mr. Joshua Young demonstrating how to “run” a birch broom. Last Thursday afternoon after a successful first interview for the radio show/podcast Living Heritage with Christine Legrow, Dale and I took a trip to Mount Pearl to talk with a gentleman who grew up in Grey River on the South-West Coast of Newfoundland near Burgeo. Mr. Young learned how to make birch brooms from his family members and continues to teach his grandchildren how to make the brooms today.
Mr. Young explained the different between white and red birch trees and how to find the right piece of wood to carve into a broom. While explaining and discussing broom making Mr. Young made a small birch broom in under an hour as a simple example of how to make a birch broom. He sent us back to the office with the sample he made as well as one of his larger brooms which he wasn’t completely satisfied with due to the crook in the handle. The broom now hangs on the wall in our office and is the first thing you see when you step inside.
Mr. Young also makes model wooden boats and explained his process of crafting and painting these as well. It was an excellent afternoon and I hope I am able to join Dale when he goes back in August for a more hands on demonstration of broom making.


Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Videos on Mi'kmaw basket making

Photo: A round spruce root basket with diamond wrapped ears made by Anthony White of Bay St. George. Constructed c1960.

I got a call today, from a woman in St. George's looking for information on where she could find a copy of a video called "Making Spruce Root Baskets." The video was made in 1981 by the Memorial University of Newfoundland "Traces" project. This video focuses on Mik'maw spruce root basket making, in particular basket maker Anthony White. The video shows White collecting spruce roots, peeling and splitting the roots, collecting wild raisin and finally weaving the basket.

That video is on Memorial University's Digital Archive Initiative, here.

Another video we came across while doing research on Mik'maw basket making is this one, featuring Cape Breton elder Rita Smith, which we posted with permission of her family. It shows the process of ash basket making, which was a type of basket made in the Maritime provinces, and then traded by Mik'maw basket sellers, who travelled from community to community by train in Newfoundland.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

The heritage of craft and traditional art

In the April-May edition of the Intangible Cultural Heritage Update for Newfoundland and Labrador, we pay tribute to our traditional craftspeople, artisans, and trades workers. We give an introduction to our "Talking Shop: Metalworking" presentation organized in cooperation with The Rooms; Heritage Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador board member Doug Wells shares his father's memories of tanning nets in Muddy Hole; Amanda-Marie Hillyard brings us news on the Deer Lake Heritage Project and the work they are doing to collect local oral histories; Lisa Wilson interviews the 106-year-old carpenter Cecil Greenland in Spaniard's Bay, and Nicole Penney writes about the tradition of lumberwoods carving in Newfoundland.

Contributors: Dale Jarvis, Doug Wells, Amanda-Marie Hillyard, Lisa Wilson, and Nicole Penney.

You can download the newsletter in pdf format from:
(look for the PDF link on the left side of the page)

Photo: Mr. Cecil Greenland, by Lisa Wilson

Thursday, April 11, 2013

How to Make a Pillow Top Frame

A few days ago in the ICH Office we tried our hands at making a small pillow top frame. The plan is to use the smaller frames in workshops, particularly with younger kids. It currently takes about 4 hours to complete a pillow top on the large frame. Using the small frame, the pillow top can be completed in about 2.5 hours, making this activity much more accessible. 

Our small frame turned out well and the end result is a cute little pillow top, with very fluffy pom poms, that can be used as a trivet or table topper. Several of these mini pillow tops could be sewn together to make a blanket.  

After receiving a few requests, I decided to put together this step-by-step guide for making your very own pillow top frame.


  • 8 pieces of wood measuring 8" long, 1-1/4" wide and 3/4" thick
  • wood glue
  • clamps
  • 24 x 2" nails 
  • 12 x 1-1/4" wood screws 
  • power drill
  • hammer
  • ruler
  • pencil

Step One: 

Take four pieces of wood and arrange to form a square. Add a layer of  wood glue and  place the other four pieces on top.

Step Two: 

Using the drill, insert screws into the end of each piece of wood, as seen in the picture below. Before this step you may need to clamp the pieces together and put aside while the glue sets. 


Step Three:

Using a ruler and pencil, draw a line down the middle of each side of the frame, lengthwise. Then along this line, mark off, in even spaces, where you will hammer in your nails. Space the nails about 1 inch apart. 

Step Four: 

Drill holes in each of these markers to make it easier to hammer in the nails. Hammer 6 nails into each side. Make sure they are even. Leave about half the nail sticking out of the frame. 

Once all the nails are all hammered in you can start weaving!

Here's the finished product! : )

If you have any questions about how to make your frame or are interested in having us put off a pillow top workshop in your community, feel free to get in touch with Nicole at (709) 739-1892 ex. 6 or via email at