Wow is all I can say. My heart is overflowing with awesomeness from last nights evening of learning how to rip qaspeqs the traditional way like my great grandmother, grandmother, mom and aunties learned. There were no rotary cutters, cutting mats all they had was their nussiicuaq (scissors), fabric, and their body to use for measurements. What an amazing experience and I am so glad I learned how to finally rip qaspeqs the traditional way.
Traditional qaspeq making involves using your hand as a measurement tool as well as arms, elbows, and body to make a pattern. It is an amazing experience to witness as well as to make one based on your body. No pattern. No sweater. No shirt. Just your body, elbows, hands, thumb. I am grateful for Bethany for being eager to learn from the wonderful teachers in Toksook Bay and for her eagerness to pass this knowledge to anyone and everyone who wants to learn. Quyana to her!
I never really sewed as a young girl. My mom was never around to teach me how to sew and my aunt who was like my mom passed away when I was 9. My cousin/auntie/sister stepped in and showed me how to make my first qaspeq maybe when I was 10 or 11. And she helped me to make a quilt for my pops and other projects along the way. She was the first to introduce me to sewing on a sewing machine. If it wasn’t for her I don’t know if I would have learned to sew at a young age and I am forever grateful to her 🙂
After ripping qaspeqs, munching on musk ox (thanks to my brother-in-law and sister for sharing) it was time to finally make some cottonwood bud salve. The cottonwood buds had be infusing in the extra virgin olive oil in the sun since April 20th and they were ready and strong.
Most recipes called for the olive oil, vitamin E oil, beeswax, and shea butter. I found these cute little tins at the local thrift store, and then I also had some small jars. Since this was my first it making it I wanted to put them in as many containers because I plan to give these away as gifts. And course share with the two helpers Naan and Bethany 🙂
So in order to get all the oils out of the cottonwood buds Naan squeezed all the cottonwood buds because I forgot to pick up the cheesecloth. It worked out awesome!
After the oils were all squeezed out of the cottonwood buds we just put them back in the container and those will be used down the road to make salve or include them in another type of salve.
Then we cut up the beeswax and shea butter and melted them down in a double boiler method.
While the shea butter and beeswax is melting we turned on the burner low on the cottonwood bud oil so that it could slowly heat. Don’t let it boil. Because these had been infusing in the sun since April 20th we didn’t need to cook the oil too long. Usually if they are not solar infused for awhile you can turn the burner on low and let it cook for a few hours. These were strong and ready so we just let them warm up.
Once the beeswax and shea butter was melted we added it to the cottonwood bud oil. The cottonwood bud oil came out to about 5 cups which is a lot. So I ordered beeswax sticks and used 5 of them. So we estimated one bar per cup of oil. For the shea butter we just guesstimated and put in a handful.
Here is the beeswax that I ordered and it worked awesome. We also added some shea butter so that it could firm up the consistency. To test the consistency we just dipped a spoon in the oil and pulled it out. Let it dry and checked it. It wasn’t quite thick enough we added another bar of beeswax which totaled 5 bars, and a little spoonful of shea butter.
This is the shea butter we used:
Vitamin E oil was also added to the oil but we didn’t measure just guesstimated.
Once the extra beeswax, and shea butter melted we let it cool. While it was cooling I quickly finished up this qaspeq ordered and showed the gals how to add the knit on this qaspeq 🙂
Once it was cooled down enough we poured them in the containers. And the consistency was right because you could see the bottom of the jars the salve was firming.
And here is the finished product! Cottonwood bud salve is excellent for achy muscles and joints, burns, cuts and wounds. And much more!
I am grateful for Naan. She came into my life at the right time and she is showing me the traditions of what she learned from her parents. I want to document and share this knowledge so that it can be passed down for generations to come. I am always learning about new plants and their uses. My goal is to document and share it so the younger generations can know the traditional ways of using plants as medicine.
Happy harvesting! Happy salve making! Happy Day!
And just for reference here is the recipe that we used as a base and just added shea butter and vitamin E oil from other recipes found on the web: