This is why I haven't listed anything new since last week...on Saturday I took my prehistoric Southwestern ornament-making gear up to the beautiful Valles Caldera Preserve in the Jemez Mountains. They were having a special event and doing demos of primitive earth skills as a part of it. While everyone baked in 100 degree heat down at home, we set up shop under a large tent and enjoyed a day of gorgeous views and weather in the 80s, punctuated by a gentle, cooling thunderstorm.
Nick Jarman, ranger and archaeologist, had cut two large bundles of banana yucca leaves down near Socorro, and was making Mogollon plaited sandals. In many ways, the Mogollon culture was very similar to the Ancestral Pueblo (Anasazi) culture, but was centered in the mountains and deserts to the south of the Four Corners region, and this particular type of sandal was made by them.
I watched Nick prep the wide, fleshy leaves by bruising them with a stone against a log, but didn't really get to watch the whole process. My enthusiasm must have showed, though, because when the day was over he gave my both bundles of leftover leaves (a LOT of leaves...), handed me a copy of an article about how to make the sandals, and told me to use the leaves in the next couple of days before they dried out.
So, on Sunday morning I took everything out back under the portal, located a couple of appropriate rocks for pounding the leaves, and got to work before it got too damn hot. I had a small stone knife I'd bought from Matt Lewis at the Caldera, so everything was done old-school with primitive tools. It took a while to figure things out, like splitting and trimming the leaves, and splicing, but amazingly the result looked pretty authentic. You start at the toe and then bend the long end over and secure it for the heel; the extra padding provides instep support. Then I used the article's illustrations to do the straps.
This morning was actually cool so I made the other sandal and redid the straps for both. You're supposed to wear them while they're still green and squishy so they'll mold to your foot, but I was in the studio on the new carpet so that didn't happen. As they dry, they will become stiff and turn the familiar basket-brown.
I'm still left with a lot of leaves to process for fibers...but I might try another pair of sandals as well...
Meanwhile, there are several really special prehistoric-style pendants and necklaces to photo and list here and on Etsy, starting tomorrow!