Not All Those Who Wander Are Lost

. . . some shared writings from Wine Brook Cottage . . .

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

More from the Chestnut Pipe . . .

Home Customs

In addition to brewing home remedies on the kitchen stove, ink, dyes, soap, paint, paste, and glue were also prepared in the home. These domestic recipes and skills were passed down to the next generation and still remembered by some mothers and grandmothers, fathers and grandfathers.

Soap Making

Soap making was an important household activity. In a wooden tub beneath the dry sink in the back entry, bones and scraps of fat were collected to be boiled in lye into hard tallow soap, "taller soap." For soft soap, cracked bones and marrow were dissolved in a tub of lye, making a soft, viscid solution that was used to scrub wooden floors and tables.

Gurry soap was made in the fishing villages from barrels of fish offal, saved by the fishermen to grease the skidways beneath their boats when winching them ashore. The lye was leached from wood ashes that were soaked in a barrel with a hole in the bottom to drain the lye. The gurry and lye were boiled together until the mixture would float an egg or a potato, when it was "strong enough" to make hard soap.


Paint for houses was made of red and yellow ochre, slaked lime and oil, and was mixed with fresh skimmed milk if it was to be used indoors on walls and woodwork. A man who lived at the Hawk, near Clarks Harbour, remembered using red ochre mixed with oil to paint his house, and painted the roof shingles with seal oil and red ochre. A good paint for houses and fences was a mixture of rosin melted in oil, added to milk and slaked lime. Another paint for the roof was made of fine sand, ashes, and slaked lime, mixed with oil. It was applied to the shingles with a wide brush - first coat thin, second coat thick. For those who lived in Jordan Falls, a good source of red ochre was "up the tote road west of the river."

Many houses and outbuildings were whitewashed with slaked lime in which glue from a fish skin was added. For white paint, quarts of white lead were stirred with oil in wooden tubs.

Paste and Glue

Wallpaper paste was made by boiling flour and water. Homemade glue came from fish skins, cod and cusk providing the best.


At Friday, February 17, 2006 1:59:00 p.m., Blogger cyndy said...

My mother remembers her mother making soap in the way that the book describes. Once, since I have many wood ashes, I thought I would makes some lye so I could make the soap. When I read up on all the work involved from start to finish, I thought, maybe not.
Gotta admire those folk....


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