Rugs: North American Rugs - Navajo rugs, American Indian rugs and native American rugs
North American is the name given to flat weave rugs and blankets woven by Native Americans in the Central Western areas of the US, mainly in Arizona, New Mexico, Utah, and Colorado. These rugs are better known as Navajo rugs.
The weaving of Navajo rugs is the continuation of a long tradition of excellent craftsmanship that dates back nearly three centuries.
It is believed the Navajos learned the craft from the Pueblo Indians around 1700, as early examples of Navajo weaving show the close parallels between the two groups. The principal difference between Navajo and Pueblo weaving is that the Navajos used wool, while the Pueblos used cotton.
In the mid 1800s, the Navajos started using dye sources and yarns from the Europeans, especially the Germans and Spanish. Along with dyes and commercial yarn, the Europeans brought designs that could be incorporated into the flat weaves of the Navajos. These were usually Oriental patterns, which the Europeans apparently couldn't get enough of.
From the Navajo's own designs, the most famous examples were the 'Chief Blankets', which were worn on the shoulders of the tribe's chief. These items were extremely popular with the other Plain's Indians.
Navajo weaving changed radically in the last twenty years of the 19th century. Commercial ready-to-use yarns were available in a variety of colors, and by 1890 the Navajo Indians were weaving mainly for the trading posts and white tourists.
The traders were a great influence on the weavers, and the requests for pillow covers and bed covers to decorate white homes resulted in a proliferation of quickly woven, inferior pieces.
By 1890, after many years of blankets and bed coverings, white settlers were demanding covering for the floor. The Navajo rugs were born as the Indians were quick to oblige.
The Indians were now weaving less of their traditional simple and abstract geometric designs and more American pictorials designs including patriotic patterns and railroad scenes and houses. The traditional rugs are virtually lost and very rare today and designers seem todesire their 'Aztec' look for modern settings.
There are a few settlements that might still be weaving Navajo rugs, but much like all the other aspects of the Indians' culture, the Navajo rug is but a faint memory to them.
There are many herbs that are beneficial to health and well being. Many you can grow yourself and use in cooking and on food.
Herbs are an everyday part of our lives in cooking and there are few that do not know the common names and uses. The added flavour of basil with fresh tomatoes, parsley sprinkled on meat dishes and soups, the bay leaf added to stews and soups are all much enjoyed and, in most kitchens, a whole variety of fresh, or usually dried, herbs can be found. What many do not know is that many of the common herbs, and a lot more of the lesser known, have medicinal properties and that these can be used to replace expensive OTC and prescription drugs. The list is an extensive one and it is not possible to do more than highlight a few of them here. These, however, are herbs that can be easily grown, or will be found wild, in most places.
ALOE VERA: This is often found as a house plant and is typified by its thick succulent leaves. It is an excellent plant to use for soothing burns and certain types of skin condition such as eczema, pimples etc. To use, simply cut a leaf and apply the gel-like sap to the affected area. ANGELICA: We know Angelica best for the candied stems used in cakes and for other flavouring. However, it makes an excellent tea for treating feverish colds. BORAGE: Borage grows wild in much of North America and Europe but can also be cultivated. The young leaves can be used in summer salads and drinks but its medicinal properties can be best used by making an infusion or tea. Put 2 teaspoons of dried borage into 1 cup of boiling water and infuse for 10 - 15 minutes. This should be drunk three times a day as an anti inflammatory. BURDOCK: Burdock grows wild and, at season's end, produces those seeds that stick so annoyingly to clothes when walking through the woods. Its root, however, is the source of one of the best blood purifiers. Boil 25 grams (1 oz.) of burdock root with 1? pints of water until the liquid is reduced to 1 pint. Drink a wine glassful 4 times a day before meals. CHAMOMILE: Chamomile tea can now be purchased in health food stores and even in general grocery stores and it is used to help with insomnia, anxiety or migraines. It is also very good in the treatment of sore throat, gingivitis and gastritis. Drink the tea throughout the day. For treatment of inflamed and sore eyes, use the cooled chamomile tea bags and place over the closed eyes for 30 minutes.
COMFREY: Comfrey is much used to maintain health in animals and cows, especially, will demolish a stand of comfrey in short order. It is, however, also excellent as an expectorant for bronchitis and irritable coughs and can soothe inflamed gastric and duodenal ulcers. Add 1 to 3 teaspoons of dried comfrey to 1 cup of water, bring to a boil and simmer for 15 minutes. Strain and drink three times a day until the condition eases. FEVERFEW: This plant is part of the Chrysanthemum family and is excellent for the treatment of migraine, headaches and rheumatism. For headaches and migraine an infusion of both the leaves and the flowers should be used while, for rheumatism, the infusion of flowers alone is required. LEMON BALM: The leaves of lemon balm can be used to repel mosquitoes and other flying insects. The juice from the leaves is good fro treating insect bites. MARSHMALLOW: This can be purchased as a small plant and grown at home. A tea made from the leaves and flowers is good in the treatment of coughs and colds. ROSEMARY: Rosemary oil can be purchased from health food stores, pharmacies and aromatherapy specialists. It can help relaxation and is supposed to be good for rheumatism. A tea, made from the leaves, is good for curing indigestion.
SAGE: Well known as a flavouring for food and in stuffings for poultry, sage is also good for treating colds and the ?flu' Make a tea using the leaves (quantity depends on taste) and drink three times a day. THYME: We are missing only parsley for Simon and Garfunckel's Scarborough Fair and thyme is another of those kitchen favourites. It is also excellent as a cough treatment and suppressant and should be used in tea form. VALERIAN: Organic, OTC treatments for sleeplessness and stress will almost always include valerian as an ingredient. A tea made from the leaves is an excellent drink last thing at night.
This is just a sample of the wide range of medicinal and helpful herbs. Many of them are now on sale in different forms in pharmacies and health food stores and you can take advantage of their healing properties without having to do much of your own preparation. Talk to the pharmacist or health store operator and seek advice. As with any medication, practice moderation and, if you are taking other medication, consult your physician before embarking on any herb related medication regimen.
Make creative use of family or antique cosmetic jewelry by trying some of these interesting ideas for preserving and displaying attractive pieces.
Collectors of old jewelry sometimes run out of places to store it. Then they must decide whether to discard certain pieces and shop anew or find a new use for the old things. If you have a few select pieces of antique jewelry that you would like to hold on to and make use of, here are some craft tips that might come in handy. Keep in mind that antique jewelry may be as recent as the past few decades or may go back more than a century. The more valuable the piece, the more likely you are to want to preserve it. The most expensive items should be protected in a bank vault or secured jewelry storage area. But those that are old and more attractive than valuable may be worth puttering with to create a fun or cute craft.
Let's start with a sash pin. Women don't really wear many sashes anymore, since this is a fashion of bygone eras. But a cute, small pin designed for the purpose of securing a sash may be just the thing for a decorator piece. Use an old sash if you have one, or buy a scarf or dresser runner that resembles an old fashioned sash. Drape it diagonally across an accent table in your bedroom or study. You can also lay it across a period rocking chair or settee. Secure the pin so that it is visible to occupants of the room. You will have an interesting accent piece that recalls an earlier time period. Coordinate this item with the rest of the room's decor to create an authentic air.
Another popular item is a Boucher, or a basic dress pin. Designed in a variety of styles, this item takes many forms and sizes in a bevy of interesting shapes and colors. Use a pin like this one, perhaps in the shape of a turtle or a leaf, as adornment for a wall-hung pillow or pincushion. Decorator chair or bed pillows also may be accented with this type of pin as a special effect, especially when the rest of the room is decorated to recall an earlier time in history.
Rhinestone necklaces, earrings, and brooches were especially popular a century or more ago. Worn for special occasions, these often have sentimental or prized value from their original owners and current descendents. You can purchase an ornate dresser top doll that is meant to be admired, not played with, and place the jewelry on her for display. That way it doesn't sit in a dark, forgotten box in the bottom of a jewelry box. Be sure your doll is dressed in fashion clothing of a similar period so the jewelry fits her style.
Colorful beads, glass or otherwise, can be used in many interesting craft projects. Turn a string of beads into a lamp switch pull cord. Or sew small bracelets (with clasps removed and the ends secured) to decorator pillows, one per corner. Separate strands of beads into the same number for several shorter pieces, securing the ends of each. Sew these to a lampshade for a decorous effect. You can add an artificial blossom of flowers to a couple of strands of beads, and place one on either end of your closet door frame for adornment.
Matching earrings and necklace or bracelet can be secured to a coordinating cloth backdrop in an artful arrangement. You can embroider initials or a few words with a date above, between, or below the pieces, or leave the backdrop blank. Matte the fabric in a glass frame, taking care that the jewelry doesn't scratch the glass. Hang the attractive display in a room where visitors can admire its former elegance and current beauty.
Use your imagination to put old jewelry to good use. Pillows, scarves, vases, and picture frames can be accented or trimmed with unusual jewelry pieces. Check out your local craft shop or pick up a book from the library on jewelry crafts for more ideas on how to showcase yesterday's treasures in today's designs.
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