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What’s in the works spring 2024: Well…might as well break the news now!

For the past nearly half a decade, my friends and I have been slowly, (semi-)patiently orienting ourselves to achieve a goal: Move to the woods. A year ago, we did just that.

Goal #2: survive and thrive the rest of our lives and try to help our loved ones and community do the same.

We formed Appalachian Rhizomes, a project to share information, plant seeds and starts, and medicinal preparations in the hopes of expanding medicinal plant access–and as a way to help others in establishing medicinal plant gardens as a means of conservation through cultivation (although, that term doesn’t really feel like it suits me…conservation through ecological participation?) and community-scale resiliency in the face of climate collapse; a medicinal counterpart to many radical food forest projects. There’s currently a limited wordpress site, buuuuuut I’ll be honest I’m a pretty lousy Online Presence Coordinator (or whatever) & somehow managed to lose every piece of log in info to update it for this year, so, I’m working on building a nicer real website that will be released Sometime This Summer. Educational resources we’ll have available in the near future include a reading list of all the books that have been most helpful to us in preparing for and making this lifestyle change, as well as hopefully some abbreviated articles and how-to’s for stuff we’ve decided you really don’t need to read a whole book for (like building a composting toilet!). Long term, we’re working on compiling a field guide. It’s been a frustration for a long time that there are incredible, herbalist-made guides for the west coast by authors like Michael Moore and more recently Scott Kloos, but similar guides are nonexistant for our region…So i guess, we’re doing it. The current plan is to build an online resource with a similar format to rjwhelan.co.nz, with articles compiled from other herbalists’ accounts, any extant (usually very exploratory) scientific information, and our own personal experiences as we get to know more of the herbs in our area; and eventually publish those articles as a print resource.

The other thing we’re doing is…starting a business.

The plan is to start selling tinctures and other herbal products made from plants that are plentiful and responsibly harvestable here as well as some grown in our garden space; marketed towards folks who are already in the habit of buying tinctures from big-name brands like mountain rose, herb pharm, etc. We will be able to offer a lower price-per-ounce than most industrial herbal suppliers. We’re on track to launch this Fall with a slightly limited catalog including oft-pricey (& difficult to ethically source) favorites like goldenseal, garden classics like fresh-prepared lemon balm, as well as harder-to-find & lesser known friends like pedicularis; and we’ll be expanding our catalog to include medicinal mushrooms and other exciting offerings once the seeds we’ve sown have a chance to become established (some figurative, most literal). I was thinking about doing print catalogs, maybe with illustrations and a bit of trivia or poetry like Strictly Medicinals Seeds does–is that nuts or a good idea? I don’t want to deal with accepting orders by mail but I always prefer to shop for herbs with a paper thing in front of me that I can browse and then order online once I know what I’m getting. Anyway.

We’re doing this because, unfortunately, we currently live in a world where money is an important resource (duh). While we have the massive privilege of access to a space that doesn’t require rent to occupy, we live in an extremely rural area where jobs are scarce and the ones that do exist suck shit–which means living here requires either a dedication to becoming a mountain hermit for the foreseeable future, or access to savings, a well-paying online job, or locally-desirable professional qualifications and the ability to do those jobs without being untenably miserable. This applies to me as much as it does any of our precariously-housed or perpetually at-risk friends & community members we hope to be a more effective safety net for. I love my practice, I don’t plan on shutting it down, but relying on it as a sole source of income is pretty terrible for my mental health considering a large part of this as a job in the current landscape of the internet is being a small time public figure (and i make like, less than two bucks an hour if you count writing hours as something that should be paid–oof). Having a job that is tied to living here lets us be more secure, as well as act as a more reasonable safety net in our community where people have the option of leaving with more than they came with.

We had considered for a long time working within the medicinal herb supply chain as non-public facing farmers; and quickly learned that the margins on that are Actually Terrible and any reasonable income would require unsustainable and deeply harmful harvesting practices. No fucking thanks. By launching our own brand, we can make a lot more per pound of harvested plant material and be offering stuff made to our own standards and have it still be cheaper; and generate funding for a project I’m entirely more enthusiastic about.

Under the Appalachian Rhizomes banner, we are hoping to within the next year begin donating large amounts of herbal preparations to mutual aid crews in our general region; as well as offering customized hands-on training for folks that would like to skill up as mutual aid herbalists. The ideal version of this project is, well, rhizomatic; providing folks with training and supplies to get started while facilitating their own development of community-based herb growing projects. I’ve already made some connects with a few people we might be supporting in this way; but for the most part info about this (& how to get looped in) will be released in the fall and projects really under way as we have more time in the winter post-harvest season and business launch.

Other Stuff!

In addition to collaborating with the crew on the business scheming, Appalachian Rhizomes projects, and the general work it takes to live here, I’ve been putting together plenty of other stuff as well!

Life Skills Unschool

I know a large number of parents & other caretakers of children these days who are anxious about how to have conversations about ecological collapse with their kids, and worried that they don’t know how to prepare their kids for a life where many modern conveniences may become unavailable (due to supply chain collapse, economic failure, or both). As someone with a fair bit of experience in these skills as well as exposure to a lot of the varying spectrum of “outdoors” or self-sufficiency educational materials geared at children, I wanted to make something that covered practical skill introduction and a radical collapse-aware lens for kids and grownups alike; taking the form of a zine called “eco life skills for kids and grownups”.

Since I’m busy as hell and take forever to finish large projects, I’ve started releasing the projects and articles in the zine via a free substack called Life Skills Unschool as I complete them.

Fight the Hatman and Win

The other draft I’m slowly chipping away at is a zine aimed at students and shift workers called “Fight the Hatman and Win: Herbal Remedies for Sleep”. (I thought of the name while drunk and everyone I told it to said I needed to keep it, so. There will be an anime hatman on the cover.) This is a beginner-friendly guide to using herbalism for sleep issues, based on the frameworks I’ve built up in my own practice over the years.

This, too, will take a while to come out, so I’m considering hosting a one-off workshop called something like “Herbal support for persistent and resistant sleep trouble” (catchy, I know) with an abridged version of the zine content that’s more geared towards herbalists with more experience.

Fun with jewelweed

I’ve also just been having a lot of fun with jewelweed lately. It’s an extremely abundant herb in our area; and it’s finally big enough to harvest and try out some schemes I came up with over the winter. Jewelweed needs to be fresh to work well and doesn’t really seem all that oil soluble (my friend makes salves with it that they’re happy with, but honestly it’s not my bag–it ends up spoiling very quickly because there necessarily has to be a lot of water in the oil and I just really don’t feel like it’s that potent.) It’s also juicy, so i’ve been, well, juicing it–crushing the plant material, adding about 60% weight to volume rubbing alcohol, blending, and pressing the same day. We’ve been using it as a skin spray to deal with itchy/irritated skin while working on garden projects and prevent poison ivy. It makes a really lovely slimey liquid that helps a lot with bug bites, and the plant properties combined with the high alcohol content make for a super cooling and refreshing sensory experience. I’m going to be playing around with using the juice as the waters in creams and lotions, and I’m very excited about that.

On we go…

Frankly, I’ve been really exhausted and depressed lately…which makes it strange that I’ve been able to keep up with a fairly unprecedented level of consistent productivity for months now. I’m very used to being miserable, but I’m not used to being tired, sad, anxious, and… fine? Functional, noncatestrophic, generally happy with my life, and feeling like the day to day sludge is somehow fundamentally worth it because I like who and where I am now. Wild, huh? We’ll see where this goes.

Sturdy, cheap binding for DIY publishing

ayoooo updating my website ate all the photos I had previously posted to it, so I’m making a new tutorial based on my Improved binding for chunky zines post! I’ve actually updated my technique a little while since making that post anyway.

psssst you can get one of these copies here or request a free solidarity copy by emailing mildewamyx(at)protonmail(dot)com

What it is:

This is a fabric-reinforced stapled binding for folded zines and books. It uses a thin glue to securely attach a fabric strip to a card stock cover. This helps keep your cover/outside pages from ripping off the spine, and also introduces moisture that (in combination with a strong weight or press) actually molds the paper into a tight u-shape. This means the finished zines sit flat, rather than flopping around, wiggling and quickly falling apart like they might if they were folded and stapled conventionally.

When it’s useful:

This technique is perfect for very long zines and short books that are too thick to staple normally (we’ll actually be using a utility stapler/staple gun, rather than an office stapler)–it lets small creators work on big projects without needing to invest in expensive equipment. The only tool you might need to buy is a staple gun–and that’s like, fifteen bucks and generally a good thing to have if you don’t got one already. It’s also better than spiral binding for shipping–you don’t need to worry about the spirals getting crushed or poking through your packaging, and if your piece is like 30-ish sheets (120 pages) or less, it’ll still be under 1/4″ thickness and you can still pay USPS letter rates if it’s under 6″x9″ (nice) (which should be around $2.35, instead of media mail which is fucking FOUR BUCKS A POUND now). It’s also cuter than regular staples and a good way to add a polished touch to a smaller piece even if it COULD be stapled normally, and I think it would be fantastic for something like a pocket guide format–a nice, thick 5.5″x4.25″ (quarter sheet) book instead of a larger, floppier 5.5″x8.5″ half sheet zine.

I haven’t met a maximum sheet count for this technique yet, but it starts getting a little bit harder around 40 sheets (160 pages). There’s no minimum, but if your piece is under 15 sheets, you can skip the staple gun and just use a long-arm stapler.

Limiting factors:

But wait, what are the downsides? Well–

  • It takes a bit of time and effort. I don’t think it’s that bad–definitely easier than hand-saddle-stitching or god forbid a hand-bound codex on every. single. copy, and less room for error than trying to glue bind a bunch by hand–but it will take you a few hours to get a batch done.
  • Batch size is limited by whatever you have to press them with AND your willingness to sit and do papercrafts for an extended period. The latter can be remedied by conviction (or haranguing your friends into helping–it is fun!) but the former really depends on how many huge, flat, very heavy objects (think milkcrate full of canned goods more than a couple hard-cover books) or, if you’re fancy, clamp-and-board sets you have. You may ONLY stack FOUR BOOKS TO A LAYER under whatever you’re pressing them with.

If those sound like reasonable constraints you can deal with in your project, great! lets go.

What you’ll need

  • A utility stapler (staple gun) with 1/2″ staples (smaller will probably work if your zine isnt HUGE, but if you’re buying something for bookbinding generally you’ll want nice long ones to make sure you can bind anything that comes your way)
  • Some kind of soft surface to staple through your pages into, so that you’re not just attaching your books to whatever your work surface is and having to wrench them out. I’m using a bit of foam packing material which works great; you could use anything similar, Styrofoam, whatever, even a couch cushion if you don’t care about putting a ton of holes into it.
  • Any kind of small piece of wood to bend your staples with. I’m using a random scrap block; you could use anything like that or even the handle of a wooden spoon or spatula.
  • Plastic wrap cut into sheets that are roughly 8″ by however wide your roll is. You can reuse these for the next batch.
  • Pre-cut fabric strips. See deets below.
  • Some glue. Wheatpaste recipe below; or use white glue diluted 1:1. We want it to be thin and runny
  • Something to press your books-in-progress with at least overnight–as said above, it needs to be very heavy and flat, like a crate of canned goods, a cinder block, a LOT of books…you can also use boards and clamps, i’ll be using some random scrap plywood boards cut about 7″x9″ and my tincture press. As above, FOUR COPIES TO A LAYER–I’m doing a twelve copy batch today so I have four boards (you’ll see what i mean).
  • Some cardboard or some shit to cover your work surface and soak up extra glue
  • A towel to wipe glue off your hands on, or wear pants you don’t care about
  • Some smallish sharpish scissors
  • And, of course: Your unfolded printed pages with a cardstock cover for each.

WAIT! BEFORE YOU PRINT YOUR COVERS:

Add a line to your cover art down the very center of the spine. This is where you’ll put your staples. Add too more lines on either side of that one, the width of your fabric strips. This will make your life so much easier I promise. Honestly? If you already have printed covers, take a bit of time to measure and draw these lines out on them, it WILL pay off in how consistent your copies are and how nice they look and it’s faster than trying to fuck with drawing lines or making guides in the middle of the process.

FABRIC

You can use ANY woven, non-stretchy fabric that isn’t too think (probably denim wouldn’t work but thinner than that’s fine). If you’re buying fabric for a specific color, I recommend getting cheap poly-cotton broadcloth; otherwise poke around for old bed sheets or clothes to cut up. Your strips need to be at least 1/4″ longer than your spines–you can absolutely eyeball this as LONG AS THEY ARE LONGER. We’ll trim them down as the last step but if you try to make them exactly the right length from get they will be too short at the end. I don’t make the rules. As for width, up to you, but no thinner than an inch and a half. Take care to cut the sides of your strips neatly unless you’re going for a trashy look.

WHEATPASTE

Want to spend Almost Zero Money on your glue? Great. Here’s what you’ll need for a wheatpaste that’s the right consistency:

  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup white vinegar
  • A fork or a whisk or something like that
  • Small saucepan + stove
  • A sealable container for your wheatpaste

PLEASE NOTE that because this is acidic, it is NOT archival quality glue. It might discolor some colored coverstock and paper, and your books will likely not live to be fifty, let alone 1,000 years old. It IS cheap though and it works great, and unlike other wheatpaste recipes this one’s actually pretty shelf stable. I wouldn’t, like, eat it after 24 hours, but I wouldn’t eat it anyway so.

Whisk your water and flour together in a small saucepan until there’s NO CLUMPS, and then put it on medium low heat. Bring the mixture up to a low simmer and stir frequently, scraping any thicker mix off the edges and bottom of the pan and mixing it back in. Once the mixture is about the consistency of raw egg, turn the heat off and continue stirring. As it cools it should thicken up to about a soft-set pudding texture. Add your half cup of vinegar and stir in thoroughly, and then pour into a jar or a tupperware or something for storage. Done!

This recipe makes enough for somewhere in the neighborhood of fifty books.

hint! You can put anything you want in your glue. Glitter? Check. Confetti? Sure. Pigment or paint? Why not! Glow in the dark paint? hell yeah bud! Just remember that if you add anything, it won’t dry clear anymore, so you’ll have to be a lot neater during the glueing process if you don’t want it to look messy.

Okay that’s enough let’s get started for real actually

Do each step for every copy in your batch before moving on to the next step.

I recommend starting with a trial run of no more than eight copies, four if you don’t do many crafts. Don’t bite off more than you can chew and only realize it when everything’s already soggy!

Step one:

Using your SOFT SURFACE (so you’re not wrenching your pages out of whatever you just stapled them to and potentially damaging them), make sure your pages are in a neat stack, line up your staple gun with that center line, and let em loose!

Make sure to use TWO HANDS! Use the heel of your non-dominant hand to press down on the top of the staple gun right above where the staples come out, as shown in the picture above. Otherwise, the stapler will kick back and your staple won’t sink all the way into the pages to sit flush with the cover.

Placing your staples as close to exactly on the center line of your cover is important (your staple gun SHOULD have an arrow you can use to line it up); but their vertical placement on that line does not really matter–the staples won’t be visible from the outside, so just eyeball two staples that seem like a reasonable distance from eachother and the top and bottom edges of the book and don’t waste time fussing over it.

Step two: Bend in those staples

On a HARD SURFACE (so it, uh, works), use the edge of that block of wood to bend in them staple ends! It actually is easier to understand in video, so here:

step three: glue, fold, crush

Dip a fabric strip into the glue and then squeegee off the excess with your fingers. Genuinely I think this is easier, faster and tidier than using a brush or a sponge or something, which i’ve done in the past. You want the strip totally saturated. Line it up with both of your outer lines on the cover and smooth down with your fingers. Give your hands a quick wipe on your pants or an ergonomically placed towel.

Slap a piece of plastic wrap over that spine while it’s still flat, pick it up and fold it in half. Press down slowly and then hold with pressure over as much as the spine as you can (ideally with both hands, i was taking a picture so I just had the one spare) for about thirty seconds.

Stack your folded copies (spines facing alternate directions) under a temporary weight (here, a handle of grain alcohol). When you have FOUR, NO MORE! copies stacked:

Place your stacks of four at a time into or under whatever apparatus you’re using to crush them–pictured I have two layers of four, so eight copies total, with the remaining four next to them.

Let your copies dry under weight overnight. It’s okay if they’re still a little damp, but they shouldn’t be wet or sticky for the next step.

Step four: trim!

use a small pair of scissors to snip the spine strips so they’re all even with the top and bottom of the book, and there you go! Congrats.

Reopening consultations

Hi! I’m very excited to announce that I am once again publicly offering one-on-one herb consultations and peer support. You can read all about it here!

I’m glad to finally be in a place again where I have capacity to support others more consistently. I really love one-on-one work–I get to talk to so many incredible people and encounter so many interesting challenges. It’s an honor.

I’m also working on a scheme to offer free support to folks who are geographically or socially isolated from IRL radical herbal projects–hesitantly I’d say news about that will probably come in february so keep an eye out if it’s something you’re interested in or a resource you’d like to keep on deck.

Opiate rant

It boggles my mind how much time, effort and resources the medical industrial complex puts into pain relief research when we got it right with opium and morphine a hundred goddamn years ago. Are they desirable for everyone? No. But instead of trying to meet the needs of people with complex or difficult to treat pain conditions, the pharmaceutical industry is desperately trying to create alternatives for people that wouldn’t need alternatives with decriminalization, education and home synthesis rights.

The average relationship to opiates in the so-called US is not what it could be. It’s extremely hard to manage physical dependency when your supply is inconsistent and you have to spend half a batch trying to get a handle on how strong your shit is and then have to start over with a completely different batch a week or two or three later–to say nothing of how impossible it can feel to schedule tolerance breaks or plan ahead to manage how fast your tolerance builds when you don’t know where your next fix (or the money for it) is going to come from. Black market pressure (especially how drug penalties are calculated) prioritizes the most potent possible substances in the smallest physical quantity, meaning lots of people are forced to take doses much higher than what they would otherwise need or find desirable, causing tolerance to build very rapidly and be difficult to control. AVOIDABLE gastrointestinal problems, malnourishment, and infection run rampant because our culture teaches drug users that these are punishments for immorality, not simple side effects and risk factors that can be dealt with through drug-user-specific health education and care.

How many people would live happy, desirable lives–fuck it, how many people would STILL BE ALIVE RIGHT NOW if they had the option to use safely produced, content-guaranteed, consistently-dosable opiates? How many people are suffering on non-indicated ineffective gabapentin prescriptions when their pain could be easily, safely managed with opiates? How many people lose years of their life to antipsychotics and SSRIs when a week or two of opium tea could’ve been all they needed to get through that rough patch, cope with that death, keep that awful event from becoming a life-long trauma?

What would happen if instead of choosing between pain and fentanyl-cut who-knows-what, you could plant some poppies in your back garden and have next-to-free access to effective relief? If instead of shelling out for pharmaceutical pills that could just as easily be cut you could make your own or get them from a farmers market stall or your friend in the corner house with the big lot and know exactly what was in them and how they were made? If you could go to any doctor or community healer or medic or harm reductionist or WHOEVER and get customized, experienced, well-thought out advice on a dosage and tolerance management plan, on food habits and options to help with suppressed appetite and potential GI problems, recommendations for supplements or medications to limit or eliminate GI distress, fresh needles and rigs or glassware and injection training and wound-care supplies and instructions, supplements and medications and exercises/habits to limit lung damage from smoking…

No more ruinous addictions. No more ulcers from tainted supplies or trying to disinfect wounds with hand sanitizer and mouthwash. No more avoidable pain and emotional distress. No more emotional and physical damage from using intense substances without knowing how strong they are or what effects they might have. NO. MORE. FUCKING. DEATHS.

Opium is exceptionally easy to produce–morphine and heroin are more complicated, but we’ve been making them for a long time prior to modern industrial labs and the basic chemistry knowledge and equipment needed for safe production could be 100% achievable to just about anyone. The harm reduction and side effect management are THERE, they’re just obfuscated by drug war politics and general health illiteracy. Opiates are not ontologically dangerous, they are made dangerous by the state. Because the state is not invested in healthcare, it only cares about control. Opiate deaths are a punishment. Addiction (as opposed to managed dependence) is a punishment. For daring to be poor, for daring to be Black or Indigenous, for daring to be disabled, for daring to try to be OK in a system that dangles health and happiness as a reward for participating and being the right kind of person— and to get the right kind of people to do the right kind of thing, to live between the lines and reproduce civilization, to retain homeostasis in the social macroorganism, there has to be a threat. There has to be a scapegoat. There has to be the wrong people who do the wrong things.

The opiate crisis was engineered through overprescription and under-education. The problem wasn’t just availability of these substances: It was and continues to be pushing opiates without harm reduction, without health literacy, without unconditional safe supply and user-tailored healthcare.

I don’t have any grand synthesis to wrap this up in a nice bow. I’m just tired, and angry, and scared, and screaming into the internet in the hopes someone reads and understands. I don’t have an answer. I don’t have a call to action. If this inspires you to do anything, please do it. I don’t want people I love to die anymore.

I’m alive! Practice updates, announcements, and all that jazz

Hi everybody. It’s been a minute!

Over the summer I became homeless again, had to part with most of my belongings, and landed in a part of the world I’ve never been to and never particularly had any intention to live: small town Oregon. I’m no stranger to being uprooted though, and pretty fast at putting roots down, so it could be a lot worse.

Not being able to practice much herbalism over the past few months has been rough on me to a degree that’s hard to communicate. This is my passion, it’s what I’m good at, it’s how I can impact the world around me in line with my values… Having begun to establish a public facing practice that allowed me to really dig my hands into everything I love about it, allowed me to really help others, and then immediately having to let it fall by the wayside because I was no longer stable enough to afford the time or resources really hurt.

I am ashamed of flaking on people and projects. I am embarrassed that I went too big too fast and was not honest to myself or others about what would be sustainable for me. I don’t want that to happen again, so, I’m focusing more on educational and informal offerings that have historically been a lot easier for me to be consistent with, as well as moving more slowly and deliberately with projects.

Consultation offerings on hiatus

I’m not at a point in my life where I feel able to support people on a one-on-one basis, so I’m putting all individual consultations and services on hiatus. I still welcome people reaching out with questions and I’ll do my best to find answers or point you in the right direction, I just might take a while to reply and I can’t do full workthroughs with people or offer sustained support.

Open study night!

Starting next month, I will be hosting Open Study Night, a public digital meeting (with an accompanying email newsletter!) for herbalists of all stripes to connect, share announcements, and collaborate! Learn more here.

New & more frequent online workshops

In addition to the Herbal Emotional Support workshop, which I plan on announcing a new session of in the near future, I’ve been working on a few other courses that I’m very excited about. Most are much shorter–single sessions over the span of one to three hours–and should be a lot easier for me to put on as I have time and the ability to plan a few weeks ahead. I’m hoping that as I put on these newer, more experimental workshops, I can get feedback, continually improve them, and add them to a more regular rotation.

The first of these will be announced shortly 😉

And no, I haven’t gotten any better at naming workshops lmao.

Sliding scale updates

This is a hard one for me. Previously, I have run my practice on a “pay me or don’t, whatever” kind of model, with more intense fundraising as the need arises, and hiatuses when I need to spend my time making money to survive. This is my ideal.

However, as I’ve mentioned…my life is tenuous. Some of that is by choice, but most of it is unavoidable as a multiply disabled person with no familial support network. I can’t just get a shitty part time job and supplement with gig work because it’s physically impossible. The ways I make money are paid below minimum wage, occasionally dangerous, usually unpleasant, and INCREDIBLY unreliable. I can’t always promise that hiatuses will be short. This one definitely wasn’t.

So here’s the deal: I will not hound or shame people I work with about their ability to pay. I will not means test or ask you to prove yourself. I will not turn people away for not being able to pay. But I am going to start being more transparent about my needs, because even the limited income I get from donations makes a huge difference in how I can afford to spend my time, my ability to do this work, and my physical and emotional wellbeing.

This is reflected on the Fees? page of this site, where I talk a little bit more about donations and have provided a sliding scale self-assessment for anyone who has a bit more flexibility in what they are able to donate for workshops

Writing projects

Finally, I do wanna mention that the herbal harm reduction zine I announced on instagram right before my hiatus is still being worked on. It’s going a lot slower than I would like it to, but it’s a project I’m extremely passionate about and do intend to release in whatever form ends up being manageable.

Thanks for sticking with me!

I’m really excited to be back. Here’s to the future!

NEW OFFERING: Herbal Exploration Activities

I’m extremely excited to be offering a new service: Herbal exploration packages. These kits include a set of customized herbal preparations and related exercises, focused on bodymind exploration, building experience with herbs, and most importantly, FUN!

Example package with preparations wrapped in colorful paper, ready to ship.

I developed this offering at the same time I was writing my manifesto–Actually, the realizations about my practice that led to the manifesto came as a result of me trying to explain why doing things like this is so important to me.

I want to incorporate play more into my practice. Herbalism doesn’t have to be restricted to responding to problems and returning to “normal”. I think that actively practicing interacting with our bodyminds in ways that aren’t focused on making ourselves “better” is extremely important to refusing to pathology–and I’m so, so incredibly excited to be making these packages because it’s play for me too!

In preparation for this announcement, I went through the process of creating a package for a friend of mine, and it was so much fun. I got to make herbal preparations I don’t typically make, do a bunch of design and packaging tasks I deeply enjoy, and share something I love with someone else. I can’t wait to make more.

Like all my offerings, there is no set fee–unfortunately there are minimum donations for physical kits, but if you have the means please consider donating towards the cost of a kit for someone else!

Full description + interest form here!

(admin note: I have also made some updates to my “herbal offerings” page–this page now has an overview of all of my offerings, with herbal consultation & support, herbal exploration packages, and workshops as sub-pages in the menu.)

Improved binding for chunky zines

I try to mix up the AAFH covers every once in a while c:

Interest in AAFH has picked up lately, AND I’m tabling at an event later this month, so it’s time for another print run! I got to do the 1st printing of AAFH with access to a hot-melt glue binding machine and I’ve been chasing that high ever since. Binding machines like that are relatively rare in my circles though, and at 16 sheets (64 pages) the compact typesetting is small enough to work as a stapled booklet–barely. This setup is not idea though. Even though its short by book standards, AAFH is a pretty hefty zine, and just folding the paper feels relatively flimsy. I do have access to a spiral binding machine, but 1) it would mean paying 25cents more per copy, which adds up since these are free and the project survives on donations and 2) I mail these in cheap half-size manila envelopes and I’m worried spiral binding would either get crushed or pierce the envelope, and padded mailers are a lot pricier.

HOWEVER, using a diluted glue to attach a strip of scrap fabric to the spine makes a big difference, both reinforcing the binding and temporary softening the paper, allowing it to be pressed completely flat. Add that to a cardstock cover, and you have what is basically just a nice binding. Next I’ll have to track down a guillotine slicer so the pages are easier to turn…

I got this idea from a zine about risograph printing I came across a while ago–and since that’s the only zine I’ve ever seen that used this technique, I thought I would share my process.

Materials:

  • Printed zines (obviously)
  • Woven scrap fabric
  • White glue (im using washable glow in the dark glitter glue, but same difference)
  • Sponge applicator
  • Plastic wrap
  • Something heavy with a flat bottom

This seems to work best with zines that were stapled, but NOT folded yet. I diluted the glue with water about 1:1; it behaves more like a liquid but is still be thick and sticky like a thin syrup. The width of the fabric strips doesn’t functionally matter in my opinion, but I wouldn’t go much thinner than the approx. 1.5″-2″ I have here. They should be slightly longer than 8.5″; somewhere around 8.75″. I’m not worried about super consistent production quality, so I made mine by ripping long, ~2″ wide strips from my fabric, using the edge of a sheet of paper to eyeball cutting them up into slightly-longer-than-8.5″, and then trimming the frayed edges off. This was pretty efficient.

Next I placed the glue-soaked fabric onto an unfolded zine, making sure to line it up with the bottom edge so I only had to trim the top. I put a piece of plastic wrap over the glued strip, which is hard to see in the photo but i promise is there. I folded the zine as best I could with my hands, pressing it down with my palms, and stacked them facing alternating directions.

I did these in a batch of 10 and a batch of 16, weighing down each batch in two stacks with a flat-bottomed wooden crate that has some gallon jars of tonics in it. They’re not significantly different from folded-only zines while they’re still wet, but after a few minutes the difference is notable. Since it’s diluted white glue, these dry to the touch extremely quickly, but I left them overnight because they still seemed a little soft and not totally flat. I was able to peel the plastic wrap off the first batch of dried zines and save it in a stack to reuse for the second batch, and I have it saved with my craft supplies to use in the future since I hate throwing out plastic.

Over all, this process took somewhere around two and a half hours of active work for 36 copies, split over two days because I’ve been lazy lately. That’s about half as long as the 40-copy perfect bound run I mentioned earlier took, which isn’t bad at all–In my opinion, which is slanted by being shit-poor and enjoying papercrafts enough to spend hours on them for fun, this is totally viable for publishing projects with runs measuring in the dozens or low hundreds, especially if you can get a couple friends to help. I have a lot of practice doing things like this so YMMV if you’ve never DIY’d a print run, but it’s definitely possible to pick up the skills and do it efficiently.

And yes, the spines on these do glow in the dark.

(AAFH is available for download as a PDF and EPUB, and I distro copies for free by mail–just send me an email at mildewamyx(at)protonmail(dot)com with your mailing address.)