Yesterday we posted about the Clothier and Spinning/weaving at the Ozark Folk Center. The places we share about today are the Apothecary Shop and the Printing Shop.
Walking into the Apothecary Shop, we were hit instantly with the lovely herbal smells. Linda Odom greeted us warmly. The “Home of Aunt Linda’s Lye Soap” was full of natural soaps and lotions. Linda shared with us that she has been at the Folk Center for three years, but she hasn’t always been in the soap shop. She started off in Spinning and Weaving. Before that she was a general science teacher, and you can tell she was a good one because she jumped right into teaching us about her soaps and the process.
She explained to us that there are two ways to make soap–cold process and traditional process. The cold process is a more modern method and doesn’t take as long to make. The traditional process is done in a cast iron pot over a low wood fire. She has to stay close and stir often for about six hours. The soap is set and let dry after that. If you let it dry for two weeks it will last even longer than if you let it dry for just a couple days (even though the soap already lasts longer than store-bought soap bars).
She follows no recipes except what’s in her own head when choosing the scent for the soap. Her favorite scent is the calming lavender. Unfortunately at the shop, it’s hard to distinguish each smell when you are surrounded by so many. We couldn’t smell the lotion we tested till we walked out!
Linda got started making her own soap about 10 years ago. She wanted to know what she was putting on her skin, so she took a class at the Folk Center to learn how to make her own soap. She started off just using it personally (even as shampoo) but then started to sell it at craft shows before coming to the center.
Thank you, Linda for sharing with us!
Linda’s husband, Troy Odom, runs the Print Shop at the Folk Center. He jumped right into telling us about the printing press and the whole process. Troy, like his wife, was a teacher before taking over the Print Shop two years ago. He taught high school printing for 30 years.
The model of press he uses at the center was from 1888. He showed us how they put the letters together in the frame and tightening it with a “quoin,” which is where we get the idiom to “coin a phrase.” These frames if used for printing a newspaper could weigh 100 lbs. They would have to lay the frame out on a completely flat surface, usually marble or metal, so that each letter and picture was even all the way across.
Prior to the 40’s they would etch pictures into copper, moving into using plastics after that.
When printing on the press, the ink is rolled or brushed onto the disk and will spread evenly as it rotates. The modern ink that is used now does not dry on the disk but will dry by absorption on the paper. In the past, they would have to clean the disk off every day to prevent the ink from drying on it.
Troy showed us that he was working on printing some notecards that had a bird in one color and a quote in another color. The colors must be added separately and takes two days to dry between printing. (Reminds me to be less frustrated with my printer taking too long! At least I don’t have to wait days between colors.) To get the pictures lined up correctly, he has to do a lot of measuring and calculating before printing and has to do some test printing to get it exact.
The process is fun to watch! Thanks, Troy for showing us what you do.