Thursday, December 12, 2013

Making Christmas

Christmas Makers Market
Friday, December 13, 5-9pm
Saturday, December 14, 10am-3pm
The Startup Building
560 South 100 West, Provo

The dream catchers are 100% handmade. The leather is from a local Utah deer. I processed and tanned the hide over the course of a month. The string is made of deer sinew that was dried and pounded and then pieced into one continuous strand. I carved the beads in the center from bone; the other beads are carved from pine and balsa wood. The hoop is crafted from willows growing along the Provo River. The feathers are from my mom's chickens.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Chaptsick? Lip Salve? Lip Balm? Lip Stuffs.

So this post has been in the making for a long time.  I'm beginning to envy people who blog on a weekly or even on a daily basis.  Props!  

The idea for this came to me probably two months ago when I was rock climbing.  I love climbing and wish I could do it all the time.  Unfortunately, my body doesn't always agree and I usually last a few hours until my arms turn to mush.  Those of you who climb are familiar with arm mush.  Somehow I am a unique climber in that every time I boulder (shorter climbs that have more of an incline and are designed to do without rope) my hands get completely hacked with blood blisters and skin tears.  No pictures this time.  I had seen a hand salve/lotion bar for post climbing hands and figured I'd try it out.

This stuff works great and one day I wondered to my self what was in it. Surprisingly, all the ingredients were household items!  Coconut butter, beeswax, hempseed oil, almond butter, caster oil, etc.  Not exactly what you would expect as household items but my mom likes to make soap, and the Rowley family is known for having a unique household inventory.....  So I talked to her about how she worked with all these things and after some research I learned that making lip balm is surprising simple, so I gave it a shot. Turns out, it is super easy and kind of fun.

Here is a brief how to for making your own lip stuffs.

What you need:
Vegetable Butter (like cocoa butter or avocado.....which are actually both fruits...)
Olive Oil (or any other cool oil stuffs they have out there like almond, hempseed, etc)
Flavor! (all over the place online)
Vitamin E Oil
Double Boiler
Lip Balm Tubes

Labeling items (or not, your call)
Vellum Paper
Packing Tape

The process is super easy.  Measure on the scale each ingredient and then melt in the double boiler.  When everything is mixed you poor it into the tubes and let it dry.  That's it!! No secrets.
(I used Vitamin E oil pills because they were cheaper; 
you just cut a little whole with a knife and 
squeeze out the juice; its good for your skins)

As far as labeling goes, I found a template online and tweaked it a bunch to make my own look.  Packing tape and vellum paper work great and then a little strip of scotch tape acts as a great tamper proof seal.  

So I'm beginning to learn that with most things people think that their way is the only right way.  For lip stuffs everyone had their own recipe that they swore by, so I looked at all the options, tried a few of them out, decided what I liked and didn't liked, and then figured out my own way of doing it.  There is probably a life lesson in there somewhere......  But as for lip stuffs, if you are doing this on your own I'd say try equal parts oil, butter, and wax.  Then add a few drops of flavor and some Vitamin E oil and see what you like.  Then make it your own!  My recipe is a secret.

My recipe ended up yielding loads and loads, and I haven't even taken a chunk out of my supply.  This batch was cucumber melon flavored and it has tested great with certain focus groups. :) I've been selling them for $2 so if anyone is interested just e-mail me at  If you bump into me, I usually have some extras on me as well.  If you can't stand cucumber melon then I'm planning on a wintery citrusy flavor this month.  

Here's a fun promotion!  If you share a link for my blog on social media and then post a funny picture of you using my lip balm then I'll give you a free tube! 

Better yet, try it out.  For me this is probably becoming to most important thing about this blog.  I am slowly realizing that being a lip balm peddler doesn't really bring in the dough.  But, if this blog becomes of venue for stimulating learning and creativity then I will consider myself a happy man/boy/child/person.  So please, if you have questions let me know.  I can hook you up with my sources and recipes if you are interested. It's pretty fun. Here what I learned!

  • Surprise! Chapstick is actually a brand name.  Even though that's what everyone calls anything lip balm/face saving related.
  • Lip Balm is the all encompassing term for what we think of as Chapstick (lip salve has a smoother, softer consistency)
  • Making your own lip balm is one of the easiest things on this planet!
  • I pay way too much for lip stuffs
  • Room for creativity 
  • Many citrus flavors have a photosensitive element that can contribute to sunburnt lips (my new flavor will be safe, I promise)
  • It only takes 15 minutes to make
  • The meaning of SPF! (sun protecting factor)
  • Wax is really hard to clean off things when its dry
  • Vitamin E tablets taste gross, that's why they tell you to swallow them fast. Yuck
  •  How to make my own labels
  • Wax burns
  • iPhone cameras are neat
  • Moms know everything

  • Next post: Soap making, no lye! (joke, lots of lye)
    And then: 100% from scratch Dream Catchers (my favorite!)

    Saturday, September 7, 2013

    Well, here goes.  I started a blog.

    The idea for this blog came to me last year when I was explaining to a friend my process for tanning deer hides (don't worry this isn't a blog entirely about tanning deer hides).  This should get pretty interesting.

    When I was growing up I was really lucky to have a group of friends who were really talented.  I knew great musicians, skaters, photographers, athletes, mechanics, etc.  You name it and I had a friend who could do it, and could do it well.  So it got me thinking, "What's my thing?" Thus began a journey much akin to what you would see in a teen movie or novel; the classic "Who am I?"  So I set out to discover my 'thing,' if I even had one.  I wish I could make a montage of me trying all these different things. I imagine it would be pretty funny. It started with little things like hackie sack and doing tricks off the monkey bars and then through high school evolved into auto mechanics, a number of musical instruments, breakdancing, photography, acting...and the list went on and on.  I picked up all these things fairly quickly but never felt that I had my 'thing.'  I was never as good of a photographer as Christian, or as good a breakdancer as Keyko. Steven could own me on any instrument, and my Mexican friends sure knew how to work on cars.  I had become the proverbial 'Zack of all trades; master of none.'

    Such is growing up I suppose.  I felt that if I could have found a label to fit into then I might have had some peace about my identity but I wasn't really a bandy, or a b-boy, or a photographer.  Who was I?

    My search continued until one day when I was living in England; I'd been living there for about a year and was having a conversation about cars with a close friend.  As we talked about cars and mountain biking and fixing bikes I got really excited to fix up bikes and make Jeep rock crawlers with this kid when I got back to America.  I also realized that my list of things to learn when I got home was getting longer and longer.  Then it hit me. My 'thing' wasn't anything specific. My 'thing' was Learning.  All those things I had tried for a month and then moved on from had just built upon the person I already was.  I didn't have one label, I fit into all of them!

    A lot of amazing things happened to me when I was in England and I learned a lot about who I am while I was there.  With all this life reflecting I was glad that I didn't have a label all those years through school; I'd like to think that we are better than labels.  Instead I was this big mess of talents, passions, and experiences all thrown into an average 22 year old with rather unkempt hair.  Realizing all this is when I first decided that I liked the young man I was turning out to be.  The other thing that I realized is that the love and gift of learning was nothing new to my family.  As a young kid I remember watching my dad hand-tie flies on an old sewing machine he had converted into a fly tying machine.  He also took on most home repairs himself whether he knew much about it at first or not.  My mom was no stranger to learning as well.  Books filled my childhood home in almost every room and we all grew up readers.  In addition to that my mom would come home one day and say, "I've enrolled in a master gardner class" or "Kids, I've learned how to make soap" or "Try this curry that I just learned how to make."  For how much I love and admire my parents it made me that much more grateful that I had inherited/learned from them their love of learning.

    So when I got back from England I started through that list of things to learn.  I like the idea of a 'To Learn' list much better than the idea of a 'To Do' list.  When you learn something it becomes a part of who you are and adds even more depth to your character and personality.  It never really ends either, instead of crossing things off a 'To Do' list you are continually adding things to your 'I Know' list.  Again it started with little things like my little sister teaching me to fish-tail braid and making fruit leather, and then moved on to bigger things like making leather goods out of deer hide that I tanned myself and learning Arabic.  A long the way I've added probably hundreds of things to my 'To Learn' list and moved maybe 50 to my 'I Know' list, but I love every minute of it.

    Now back to the blog.  Last winter I was putting some of my newly acquired tanning skills to use and started making dream catchers. 100% homemade.  It's a pretty interesting process as you'll see in the coming months.  Whenever I'd finish a dream catcher I would usually just give it away to the first friend or family member that walked in the door.  I didn't really have a huge desire to decorate my room with loads of dream catchers; I just liked making them.  It became the same with my homemade jerky and Maori necklace bone carvings.  I'd finish something and it would be gone the next day.  That semester I was sitting in a marketing class and had the idea for this blog.  I would make a blog of all the stuff I liked to do and show people who may be interested the way I do it and then when I finished making something they could have to chance to buy it.  I am always adding stuff to my 'To Learn' list so a consistently updated blog with changing products every year works much better than starting a dream catcher business one year and a bone carving business the next.

    It really serves me two purposes the way I see it.
    1. Documentation- I'll take pictures of what I do and give some basic instruction (while withholding my trade secrets) for anyone who would like to try it themselves.
    2. Sharing- I like to tell people that my parents taught me how to share when I was a kid so this is a chance for people to be a part of what I do for fun as well.

    It is my first real attempt at this kind of thing so be patient with me and any type of feedback would be much appreciated.  Now, let's learn something today.