Sunday, August 12, 2012

Nantucket Berry Basket

I started this basket in 2003-04 while visiting Nantucket Island and taking a Nantucket Basket Making seminar with Islander basket maker Peter Finch. I was there with Charlie my now husband, whose company was renovating the Nantucket Whaling Museum and we had the chance to spend quite a bit of time on the island. I love it there and I always loved the Bantucket Lightship Baskets so it was a natural for me to call up Peter Finch. I didn't have a car so I walked ot his studio/shop/home on Polliwog Pond Road to initially meet him before I took a subsequent seminar another visit. He is a delightful man and a joy to be around. I was thrilled when he agreed to give me a private lesson on my next visit. I heard he still makes baskets but has turned his present day attention to jewelry and he makes a Nantucket "Bracket" which is a woven cuff with scrimshaw etchings. Quite stunning. You can check out his website at .

This particular basket is a six inch berry basket and one of my first projects after getting my first Nantucket mold. Being a novice, I made every mistake you can make on this basket and even put the base on backwards and the staves on upside-down. When I brought it back to Peter Finch and showed it to him, he laughed about it and made a bit of fun so I never really finished the basket because it had gotten off on the wrong foot. It has sort of sat around my shelves for several years. Today, I pulled together a drill with my husbands help and got the handle on and the shell motif on the bottom. You may notice that I signed my name on the backwards bottom M. Smith. This was made before I married Mr. Abbott (which was 6.5 years ago) and became Melissa Smith Abbott. 

If you look at the detail of the staves in this basket you can see how they taper off to the top. This is not supposed to be how it is the tapering should be next to the base. Oh well, it still looks ok and if I didn't tell you, you wouldn't know unless you had an eye for that detail.

The base was also put on backwards and this square part should be on the inside of the basket while the rounded part on the inside should be on the outside. I guess it is a matter of taste and yes I can now see my error. The rounded part would look better on the outside but in my mind the stability of the base should be first and foremost and that is why I probably picked this side when I blindly started this basket, forgetting half of what I had learned from Peter Finch.

I decided to use some bone beads for the handle and I used a screw type nut and bolt affair on the handle as well. I think it looks stunning all finished even if the staves and bottom are a little topsy turvy!

It feels really good to get some projects finished up and make room for more basket projects.
Thanks for reading my blog and for all you basket makers out there, you know you all have the backwards basket someplace on some shelf. I know it! I had one and it took guts to drag it out and finish it in spite of its defects. In hindsight, they are sweet defects and I have learned to love them. Happy Basket making!

Kind Regards,  Melissa Abbott

Friday, August 10, 2012

Trip to Black Whale Gallery Hyannis, MA and meeting Scrimshaw Artist Nancy Lyons while consigning two of my Pine Needle Baskets

"Saharaha" on left and "Web of Space and Time"
Pine Needle Baskets consigned at The Black Whale Gallery
Nancy Lyons owner of The Black Whale Gallery
349 B Main St., Hyannis, MA 02601
My Friend Geri, who lives on Cape Cod and whose Mother was a student of Gladys Ellis the famous Mattapoisett Basket Maker, took me to visit The Black Whale Gallery in Hyannis, Massachusetts recently. The owner Nancy Lyons has been a scrimshaw artist for over 30 years. Her work is stunningly detailed. I was interested in meeting her because of her scrimshaw but also because her aunt was a little known Gloucester photographer in the 1920's named Amy Addison. Amy Addison took wonderful photographs of the Gloucester Schooners and waterfront in both Gloucester and Rockport. Amy Addison was also a printmaker and made beautiful etchings and prints of the waterfront as well. She left her body in 1976 but Nancy Lyons, her niece still carries the energy of her work and has written a book which includes her aunts work. Part of the book was also reproduced recently in Wooden Boat magazine.  

Sailors Valentines in case
Nantucket Baskets and
Ivory Scrimshaw in case
Nancy Lyons and my friend Geri looking at a necklace

The Gallery

Gorgeous Nantucket Baskets

I loved The Black Whale Gallery and meeting Nancy Lyons. There is nothing like travel to get fresh inspiration. Since making my Pine Needle Buddha purse, I want to make more Mattapoisett style Pine Needle purses. The tradition of the Nantucket purses as we know it today may have originally been made in Pine Needles and whale bone before the whalers sailed to Asia and brought back Cane and Rattan to use for basketry.The local Massachusetts native population made baskets from Pine Needles originally and I am of the ilk that if you were to go back in time and "see" what the baskets looked like before whaling trips of the 1850's, they would be Pine Needles. You know back in those days there were no plastic bags and fabric was ultra expensive. A persons basket was their personal receptacle for food, personal items, storage, and even cooking. There are stories that people etched their names in whalebone onto their personal baskets originally so that after the church suppers in Nantucket, everyone would know whose baskets were whose. The baskets were usually round, made of ash and cane and made over a mold of an old spar, mast, or boom from a ship. The nesting baskets were made on The Nantucket Lightships during off hours by the men stationed there to sell to summer tourists on the island beginning in the 1880's. Baskets from the 1800's are quite valuable and collectible. The Lightships were anchored on the shoals off Nantucket during that time functioning as mobile Lighthouses of sorts. It must have been lonely, with hours of idle time. The men filled the hours with making baskets as both a hobby and an art.

 Later in the 1940's and 1950's a Nantucket maker commercialized the Nantucket Purse. His name was Jose Formoso Reyes and he stylized the Nantucket purse with a carved Ivory Whale on the top and a swing handle or leather braided strap. Those baskets were originally known as "Friendship Baskets"  and quickly became the style and rage of visiting summer people and tourists on Nantucket. Hard to believe this but they retailed for $15 then.

My Pine Needle creations feel right at home next to the
Ivory Scrimshaw and Nantucket Baskets

I still imagine the very early local Wampanog tribe making Pine Needle baskets on Nantucket and I do believe there was a tradition of this in Mattapoisett as there was a huge native american population there. We shall never really know because natural fiber and textiles disappear over the years but if you were to squint your eyes, on an anthropological level, it all makes sense. For some reason, this bit of history, while not important to others, inspires me.
The photos above the cases are
Amy Addison Gloucester Photos from 1920's
I love using traditional materials at hand to create useful and creative objects of beauty and function. The whole tradition of the Nantucket Sailors Valentines, Baskets, Scrimshaw, and other Oceanic creative endeavors with a history of using natural materials available is, to me, amazing. When I see Pine Trees growing on the shore, it makes sense to me that this fiber was important.
Amy Addison Gloucester Waterfront Photos
Couple this with great, practically unknown Gloucester waterfront photos in this gallery and I am mesmerized. The Black Whale Gallery is really something special. I felt supported to extend my craft to a creative edge just by going there and seeing all the work of all the basket artists the gallery represents.
More Nantucket Bags and Baskets
So, it makes perfect sense that I consigned my baskets to a place with Nantucket style art, scrimshaw, and other oceanic Massachusetts artists. It was hard for me to leave my baskets someplace. They seem part of me. I picked each pine needle off the grass just as it was freshly fallen and then crafted the baskets stitch by stitch with great love and intention. to me, they are works of art, an expression of a greater whole and a spiritual affinity for the world around me. I have no idea if anyone else will "get" the expression of this work but it feels right and good that I left them at the Black Whale Gallery amongst the old Gloucester photos and Sailors Valentines.

I am going to be working with Nancy Lyons in a collaboration of sorts on my next basket and I will post photos as soon as I get that started. I want to try my hand a Tenneriffe and Ivory Pine Needle Basket Purse in a Mattapoisett Style but with an updated Fiber Arts modern feel. Art for Arts sake, yeah, it is where it is at. There is always a lot of discussion about authenticity in Nantucket basketry. I think the authenticity comes from within and it isn't a historical thing from the past. What gives a basket its energy and light is the makers intentions with form, functionality, and creative expression, no matter when and where it was made. I don't think I could ever try to "exactly copy" a style to sell or pass off as a tradition. I can only envision my own new style and expression in basketry!

Thanks for sharing my trip to Cape Cod with me and my visit to The Black Whale Gallery meeting Nancy Lyons, Amy Addison with my dear friend Geri Gastar. There is more to come....

Kind Regards, Melissa Smith Abbott

Friday, August 3, 2012

The Mermaid Basket

 While I was in Merritt Island, Florida during February 2012, I decided to do a Sculptural style Pine Needle Basket using a reproduction Mermaid Scrimshaw center as a motif. I had gathered a great many really wonderful Florida Long Leaf Pine Needles from a park in Merritt Island after a great windstorm. After washing them in Dawn and laying them outside in the sun to dry, I imagined the center of the basket surrounded by some small tibetan bone beads I had.
 This is the beginning of the mermaid Basket using black Crawford's linen waxed thread. While this was all being pulled together, it is interesting to note that there were many manatees gathering in the canal next tothe dock of our rental house. The house was at the very end of a small offshoot canal off the Banana River waterway there. We were observing them, and feeding them some lettuce leaves. It is thought that sailors imagined the manatees as mermaids. They have trumpets like an elephant but sort of look like a hippo. One night very late, we heard lots of trumpeting in the canal. Waking up out of a dead sleep, I couldn't imagine what was going on. in actuality the bedroom was right next to the canal and we were sleeping virtual steps from about 50 gathered manatees.
 As it happened, and all of this happened while I was working on this basket, and as I started my first sculptural interpretations of waves and bubbles surrounding the Mermaid in the basket, I spoke with the owner of the house and I mentioned that on two subsequent evenings there was a great deal of commotion in the canal with the manatees. She told me that they came every year up into that canal to have their babies and what I was hearing was the births of their young!!

I could hardly believe it! I was witnessing a true miracle as I developed the Mermaid Pine Needle Basket. The reason I am telling you this is because this basket truly has the energy and miracles of Mermaids infused into it! It was a very exciting time!

This is a side view of the finished Mermaid basket and really holds the flavor of those special times with the manatees on Merritt Island, Florida during the winter of 2012!

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

The Buddha Pine Needle Purse - My first Purse attempt!

This is my first attempt at a Pine Needle Purse. I started the basket in Florida last march 2012. I used Chinese Soapstone and Tibetan Bone Findings, a Wooden Handle with Bone washers, Sandalwood and Rudraksha Beads as well as long leaf southern Pine Needles hand picked by me after a terrific windstorm on Merritt Island, Florida.

i orginally tried a smaller handle with the purse but was not able to open the bag well so I changed it out for a larger version. This picture shows the bag with the 1st version.

This is a photo of my friends Mother's Pine Needle Purse with Tennerife Lace. This is known as a Mattapoisett Purse. My purse is sort of an homage to this one. My next attempt will have tennerife in it as I have since learned how to do it.  I put this photo in to give you an idea of where my original inspiration comes from. I always loved Nantucket Purses and I even own a vintage one that was made on a Lightship in the early 1970's. This is the Pine Needle version, which may have been the absolute original style before the whalers brought back cane from Asia. Before that the native American's wove baskets from Pine Needles. It is a very old art and largely forgotten. I am sort of in love with it and it has taken me years to pull together the energy and where with all to attempt doing one of my own.

The beginnings of the Purse actually looked like this. There is a small soapstone buddha on the bottom of the basket and the row of rudraksha beads which are actually from a type of Asian Evergreen tree serve as the feet of the purse bottom.

This is a photo of when I was building up the sides of the basket.

This is a photo of when I started the purse lid. It was a challenge to try to get it to fit on the basket itself. I didn't do the best of jobs but I managed a lip on the inside, you can see it pictured here.

This is me pinning in the brown velvet lining I gave the basket purse. I managed to sew a little pocket into the side too!

 A Close up of the Tibetan Bone Om and Dorje clasp I fashioned from the pieces I bought at a Bead store. I used leather wrapped in Bee's Waxed Crawford's Irish Linen to wrap the basket, hinges, and clasps.
This is the beginning of the back of the basket and the hinges I made. This shot only shows it partially done but it is interesting to see photos of the basket while it was still in process.

I don't think this will be my last Purse attempt. I am designing a much more ambitious design with Tennerife for my next basket. I just finished a little basket with only one Tennerife motif in the center but it was a good one to start one. I will be graduating to multiple Tennerife designs on my next one.

Thanks for looking at the blog and if anyone has any insights into making Pine Needle Purses please comment as I am always looking to discuss!!

Kind Regards, Melissa

Sunday, July 22, 2012

The Web of Time and Space

I started this basket in April 2012 while still in Florida. It is my first attempt at a Tennerife Lace which I decorated with moonstone and dyed jade beads. I treated these needles with a Glycerin bath, baked in the oven for several hours which darkens the needles and preserves them. I used Crawford's Waxed Linen Thread from Ireland. I finished this basket today, Sun. July 22, 2012.

I named the basket, "The Web of Space and Time" which is about the free flow of choosing freedom of positive intent.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Pam Gotcher's "Desert Mesa" 1st Pine Needle Basket plus where it finally ended up!

My friend Pam Gotcher, who I met on through mutual friends, lives clear across the country in Washington State. She saw some of my posts on Facebook with examples of some of the baskets I was working in in early 2012 and became enamored by them. She asked me how to do it. I told her what I tell everyone, get Nadine Spiers videos. They are amazing! She bought nadine's video and watched the first part and started her basket. Apparently the video was corrupted just before she got to the second row and she couldn't watch it all.  She messaged me on Facebook and asked me questions about going onto the second row and I told her how to do it via instant message on Facebook!! I feel like I played a small but vital part in her development as a Pine Needle Basket maker. I recently I contacted Pam and asked her about her basket and if she had started a new one. She has a funny story about her basket.
Desert Mesa 

PAM GOTCHER'S REPLY: Like you, my basket making time has gotten a bit short this summer - between the garden, the log splitting, the bees, etc. The new one is taking some time. 

The first one has gone to it's new home and is in Australia. Funny story behind that. I was going to Phoenix for a Genome Healing conference, and had been offered a place to stay by a very old friend of mine. Her son runs a hotel down there. I was going to take the basket to her as a gift. About a week before leaving, the hotel thing had not been firmed up, and she wrote and said her son wanted a minimal amount a day for me to stay and I wrote back and said fine, and thanked her again. And then (still no hotel confirmation) - she dropped off the map - didn't return emails, I didn't have a phone number, son was on vacation, hotel didn't have a reservation for me. Figured I would rent a car and drive to the hotel and pay for a night and wait until the son came back from vacation the following day to see what was up. I had a mapquest direction, but I had asked (inadvertently) for directions to the venue for the conference, which was in a rented private home. Got there, found the conference organizer and the teachers. The head teacher asked if I wanted to stay there, so I got to stay with them. And she got the basket - and her whole house is in those colors. So, ultimately the woman who took care of my living arrangements in Phoenix got the basket  - it went to the person it was meant to, even though it didn't go to the woman I thought it would. That woman was Carol Roberts the instructor for the Genome Healing Conference I was attending. The power of intention is so strong and I feel like the basket went to exactly the person it should have gone to. In fact my life has really been revolving around consciousness and the effects of it in my life. That is why I was at the Genome Healing Conference. Their work is focused on the work of the Russians and healing.
Beginning of Desert Mesa

Pam Gotcher's Walmart Tackle Box for Beads

Carol Robert's instructor of Genome Healing. She lives in Australia and that is where Pam's Pine Needle basket ended up!! 

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Extraordinary World Pine Needle Basket

Extraordinary World Pine Needle Basket Feb.-Mar. 2012

Florida Pines
This basket was my second Pine Needle Basket adventure. I had made my first basket, Quan Yin the year previously in winter 2011 but hadn't had the time to explore more Pine Needle basket making. My husband Charlie and I took our two dogs and drove to Florida in early 2012 to spend the winter there in a rented house. We wanted to see if we liked it there.

When we arrived, I started noticing the Pine Trees on the roadsides and in yards. At one point we were on a side road with many Pine Trees and I asked my husband to pull over. I picked up a few off the ground and realized I could use these to make a basket. I was excited because I had previously bought the Pine Needles online and it cost me $30 to make my first basket. We drove a little further and I saw a downed branch with a lot of brown dried pine needles. It was hung up on another branch so it wasn't touching the ground. My husband, Charlie and I gathered the needles off of that branch into a plastic bag we had in the car.

I took them home and washed them in the sink with hot water and Dawn dish washing liquid. Then I laid them out on cookie sheets covered in newspaper in the sun to dry. Those needles formed the very beginning of this basket.

washing needles
drying needles

I used a Chinese Turquoise Cabashon piece I had purchased on Ebay as the center which was glued to a piece of leather recycles from an old handbag. I used black Crawford Irish Linen Thread which was waxed with extra beeswax and started stitching in rows of pine needles. I then added some gorgeous Lapis Lazuli beads that I had recently acquired.  I next added a solid row of black.
Adding Solid Back Row

I built up the basket using Waxed Crawford Blue Irish Linen, Adventuring Beads, Tibetan Bone Beads from a recycled Buddhist Rosary, and more Lapis Lazuli. At one point about half way through the basket I ran out of needles so I looked for more under some roadside trees but the quality was very poor and they were old and dirty. I wondered what to do and then found a tree which grew in a spot where someone mowed underneath it and there was a paved walkway. I could find needles in this location which were freshly blown off the tree as they lightly rested on top of the grass or on the pavement. This was a huge leap for me and this is when I started looking for Pine Needles after wind storms in locations in Parks where there were bike paths and regular mowing being done. It was always an adventure looking for needles. 

When I look at the finished Exraordinary World Basket, I can see my journey to learning about how to get the freshest and best needles. In the end, the basket came out really well and I was very happy with it. At the time I was interested in an American man who became an initiated Naga Baba in Hardiwar, India by the name of Baba Rampuri. I had been reading his book, "Autobiography of a Sadhu: A Journey into Mystic India". In his book, Rampuri discusses the process of entering extraordinary worlds. It is a fascinating take on connecting to the natural order of the Universe and listening to the language of natural expression and articulation from a different perspective. For me, connecting to the natural environment and processes which are falling off trees all around me was in fact making sense of the Universe in a very primal and tactile way. The experience of finding the trees, picking up each Pine Needle, washing, sewing, waxing, touching, and tenderly loving it was truly a meditative and spiritual experience. All of this could be called artistic expression but truly speaking, it was a very primal, almost shamanistic experience of connecting to the natural language in the trees, wind, rain, ground, and pine needles around me in Florida. The cosmos speaks to you in ways you sometimes don't listen to or hear. The extraordinary world basket was a deeper connection to the universe at large. Even though this was only my second basket, it held a lot of beautiful energy because of this. The basket was purchased by a collector in South Carolina.

Adventurine Row
Finished Basket

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Collecting Pine Needles and my First Pine Needle Basket "Quan Yin" made with Tory Pine purchased on Ebay 2011

Florida Long Leaf Pine Trees

Depending on where you live, Long Leaf Pine Needles may be growing near your home. This tree is available throughout the southern United States from Virginia to Gulf of Mexico. The botanical name is Pinus Palustris.

In other parts of North America there are other versions of a long leaf pine needle. Many people use Tory Pine, Canary Island, and Guatamalan varieties with success. If you are not able to find them locally you can buy them on the internet from basket suppliers, Etsy sellers, and Ebay.

When I first made a Pine Needle Basket, I bought a lb. of Tory Needles on Ebay and they worked wonderfully.

The start of my very first Pine Needle Basket
Winter  2011

My first basket was my Quan Yin Basket utilizing a soapstone relief of the Chinese Goddess Quan Yin. I used Tibetan Bone Beads from an antique Tibetan Rosary I had collected years ago. The needles I purchased on Ebay worked well but were expensive. I wasn't going to be able to make very many baskets this way.

After my initial trials, I went for a trip to Florida last winter and I noticed all the long leaf Pine Trees. I started collecting needles locally, on Merritt Island. At first, I just picked up any old pine needle I found on the ground by roadsides.

This is a few minutes of collecting done
after a Wind Storm - Merritt Island, FL 2012

 I would see a copse of trees by a roadside, pull over, and scoop up what I could under the trees. I soon discovered that a lot of these needles had been laying around for a long time, perhaps even years. Not only were they very dirty, they also had mildew, and even bugs. I decided that I only wanted the freshest needles and I started looking in parks and parking lots where the lawn was often mowed under the trees. I also discovered that needles fell off the trees after wind storms and if had been particularly windy, it was a good time to look for needles. I found a large park with many Long Leaf Pine Trees on the perimeter. I looked for Pine cones on the ground and where there are pine cones, there are usually pine needles. The freshest needles have a nice new look about them.

Look for the lighter fresher looking
Needles near Pine Cones in Parks
where the grass gets mowed.

I started looking for these type of needles exclusively and it made a different using this type of discrimination in my selections. The Best time to gather needles is in the Fall You can, though, gather them anytime of year green and allow them to cure outside in the sun for at least two weeks until they turn a golden brown. You can collect boughs and hang them from a line or fence so as not to touch the ground.
Florida Long Leaf Pine Needles collected
on Merritt Island, FL 2012

The color of the needles can range from a light tan to a deep walnut color.
My first Basket - Quan Yin, done with
Tory Pine Needles purchased on Ebay
If you live in the Northern Climates where the pine needles are shorter you can use them with success but you will have to use lots of them.
I recently collected some short pine needles in Massachusetts which are short and very fine. I plan on experimenting and making a basket with them soon.  I will keep you updated on the progress using the shorter needles but I do believe I will be able to use them, I will just be feeding my bundle more often.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

The Frangrance of the South West - by Kathryn McCraley - Pine Sap Salve Collection & Recipe

Kathryn McCraley

My friend Kathryn sent me
these photos, commentary, and recipe. I am including it here because it
speaks to the essence of Pine Trees. I have never visited the South West
of the USA but you can see the spiritual engagement here. Kathryn takes
through her process of collecting and the making the Pine Sap Salve.

The Fragrance of the South West

Living in the high plateau country along the Arizona/Utah border, one comes to appreciate the plants and animals that are hardy enough to survive in this arid region.  One can easily be transported back in time when wandering through sandy stretches or along cliff edges.  How would one make a living here?  You would have to be as resilient and ingenious as the flora and fauna, and you would have to be fairly mobile, able to cover some distance in order to procure your sustenance.  You would definitely know and love the pinyon-juniper zone, a veritable prehistoric supermarket.

Today the P-J zone is at something of a mid-level between the lower deserts and the higher ponderosa pine forests.  They start to appear at about 3000 ft. elevation, and flourish at around 5000 ft.  There are many useful plants that grow within this zone, the pinyon and the juniper are the largest.

Both types of tree grow can grow to 20 ft. tall, but one wouldn’t describe them as stately; terms such as gnarly and scrubby come to mind.  But when amongst them, it is the aroma which will carry you to a heavenly place.

The juniper is a wonderful and useful tree in it’s own right.  When looking at the shreddy bark of this tree, I’m always reminded that this was the early diaper material.  At least the baby’s bottom would have been more fragrant!

My quest for today is the pinyon.  No, not for the nuts, which are a goldmine of calories.  Today, I’m searching for the pitch, the sap which oozes from the bark.  The sap is the wound-healer of the tree, it’s immune system at work.  It is a disinfectant that might be used directly from the tree.  I am gathering some to make into a healing salve, but simply the soothing beauty of it’s aroma is enough to make you want to smooth it on.

 The sap is gathered off the bark where the tree has been injured, from a break, a cut or a lightning strike.  It’s consistency can be anywhere from a hard golden crust to a crystal clear drip. Trees are sparse and the sap, even more so.  I don’t want to gather too much, as the tree is needing it, as it’s defense in this harsh climate and also, in this spot, not far from the highway, there looks to be other people that gather from here.

I just used a recycled jar to put the sap in, one I knew would fit in a pan of water in my oven.  One could use a can or bucket for a larger processing.  Well-fitting gloves might be helpful, your hands will become very sticky and then you will begin to see how your hands go everywhere!  (My little camera will never be the same).

I take time to thank the earth for providing such a delightful wonder and head home with my little companion.  

Tomorrow, we’ll make salve.


The main ingredient for pine salve is the resin.  The next thing you will need is a certain amount of patience.  The sap will take awhile to process into something more refined and isn’t that fitting?  Your home will smell of the potent and voluptuous pinyon for days.
The jar is about 1/3 full of resin of differing consistency, smooth to rock hard.  Set this inside a pan filled with water and put that on a tray into a warm oven.  There are other ways to apply heat, you could just leave it outside if it's hot enough, but this will take much longer.  You could leave it on top of a wood stove if you have one.  You could probably put it in a double boiler on the stove, but the intent is not to boil it as you do not want to loose or change the healing properties.

You will need a cleared place to work, as it will get messy and very sticky.  Use containers and utensils dedicated to the work and an oven mitt that you don’t mind getting sappy.  I poured hot water into the bowl and put the jar right in, then set these on a tray in a warm oven.  The warmth will eventually meld the sap so that it levels out.  It will take awhile, especially if the resin has a lot of hard chunks.  Enjoy the aromatherapy.

When the sap has melted down to about level, you may add an equal amount of coconut oil.  When this begins to blend, stir it carefully, trying not to stir up the bits of bark and twig at the bottom.  Warm some more.  As it becomes more liquidy on top, it will be time to add in a bit of beeswax.  Do this at  roughly an 1 to 8 ratio, that is 8 parts resin mix to 1 part beeswax.  This particular jar was a 12 ouncer.  I put in about a tablespoon of beeswax, maybe a bit more.  This may be done in two steps, where you would do a pour of the liquid to another jar first and then add beeswax, but I did it all in one jar to be able to get as much sap as possible.  I believe that the bark and other bits add a certain something to the healing components of the monoterpenes.  

This batch took all day to be ready to pour.  This is the fun part!  You will want to stir just before so to have a nice consistency and then be careful to leave the solids at the bottom, which can be tricky.  Take it slowly but surely.  If the sap begins to harden too much,  just pop it back into the oven for a bit; this will loosen up the resin again and you will be able to squeeze even a few more drops out.  If you prefer to add other ingredients or to add an essential oil, this would be the time.

putting the tops on.  You can clean up with a warm damp cloth.  The stickiness on your fingers will come off with cooking oil or an olive oil soap and your hands will still smell lovely. 

This balm will be a blessing to gardeners or anyone with rough dry hands.  Very good for healing cracks on summer "flip-flop" feet.  It will be healing for small wounds and great for helping with splinters.  It is wonderful as a protective lip balm.  You may crave it for the soothing fragrance alone.  It will bring to mind the vast healing expanse of the sun-drenched southwest.  Inhale and enjoy.