My name is Shauna Mailloux, and I am a gatherer. I have boxes filled rocks & shells, drawers of paper scraps, stacks of old bricks, bags full of cardboard tubes & salvaged fabric…etc. While this may seem like evidence of a hoarder, I like to think that it makes me a gatherer because my collections are of items that I find that have awesome potential, and they’re organized, labeled, & ready for arting & crafting at any minute. Or maybe I am a hoarder that just hoards for a specific purpose and also happens to be organized. Not sure. Anyways, the latest materials that I’ve been gathering are all of the awesome textures of fall – acorns, pine cones, pods & other spikey things, even twigs. So finding an area like this is like hitting the jackpot –
Or so I thought.
Over the weekend I was on a particular acorn-hunting mission and I came home with the prize of grocery bag filled with these guys. I left the bag in our living room until I got the chance to file them into my organized world of craft materials… We wake up Monday morning to find MAGGOTS crawling on the floor around & inside the bag of goodies. MAGGOTS. Of course I freaked out, threw the bag outside, tore the room apart & cleaned it from top to bottom. It should have been obvious, but hitchhikers were just not something that crossed my mind as I was happily planning all of the projects to come from my collections of acorns & pine cones & whatnot. And I have bags upon bags of these things stashed away. Yikes.
Anyways, I tell you all of this background just to give some tips to my fellow gatherers of natural materials, just so that you won’t have to go through the experience of finding maggots in your house or have to live with the idea in the back of your mind that there could be other hitchhikers hiding somewhere…
Instructions for critter-free crafting:
1. First of all, DO NOT bring anything inside unless it is going straight into your preheated oven. Seriously, just don’t do it.
2. Preheat your oven. There are all different suggestions out there for baking temperatures & times, but I baked mine at 300º for 15 minutes & I was satisfied with that.
3. Cover your cookie sheets with tin foil (to catch any sap) & spread out your collections. (Do this outside too – you don’t want to take any chance any hitchhikers making a run for it.) Btw, segregation isn’t necessary, but mine were already separated. Told you I was organized 🙂
4. Make a bee-line for your oven & bake ’em (300º for 15 minutes). [Tip: if you’re like me & feel bad about frying the little critters, all I have to say is to keep thinking about your home infested with maggots, spiders, ants, cockroaches…] And yep, I also found a cockroach in the house the same day. Lesson learned.
5. If the materials come out of the oven dry (not sappy), just brush off any remaining debris with an old paintbrush.
6. If the materials do get sappy in the oven, toss them around in a colander with soap & hot water until they get sudsy – it’s the quickest way I found to wash all the sap off in large batches. I dried them really quickly the same way by tossing them in a large bowl with a towel.
6. Before storing them, make sure they’re COMPLETELY dry and cooled (or else you’ll have a new problem to face…MOLD).
7. Happy crafting!