Saturday, September 8, 2018

Pitch Pineys

It's simple. Just send me $10 with PayPal and I will know you want a Pitch Piney. I will mail it immediately to your verified address.

I'm trying a new marketing approach, sales benefit something of ecological importance. This is no different than everything I make and sell, but I'm interested to see if it matters to emphasize the good cause. I am also going for a very low price point. That may make more difference. If $10 doesn't work I will try something lower.

Longleaf pine was one of most abundant tree species in North America before industrialization. Now less than 3 percent of the original forest remains. Half of this is on private land like my family's.

Maintaining the longleaf pine ecosystem is a lot of work. It requires annual prescribed fire to keep the understory open for keystone species like red cockaded woodpeckers and gopher tortoises.

I live out here in my tiny house and keep an eye on the property. If lightning starts a fire I run out there with a rake and I put it out before it jumps a fire lane and sets the neighbors' land on fire too. I kill time between thunderstorms doing science communication and making arts and crafts in my lab. I don't have room for any art in my tiny house, so try to sell things online.

When I say that buying a Pitch Piney supports conservation of Longleaf Wiregrass Savannah I mean I'm going to buy a can of gas with that money and I'm going to mow some firelanes. Or I may buy groceries. I don't have non-profit status, I just don't get paid at all for anything. I have tools from when I had a job and I hang on to materials I can upcycle. Aside from a branch that fell in my yard this project uses file folders I got with a free file cabinet somebody gave me when they moved. And I have foam core scraps from framing posters for a friend. You can check out my testament to smallness over on my other blog to verify my efficiencies.

Gopher tortoise out grazing in my yard
Longleaf pines were nearly wiped out because they are just so useful. Longleaf is the strongest wood for structural posts. These trees also produce a very useful resin that is distilled into turpentine. In certain parts of the tree this resin can become so concentrated it stops behaving like normal wood. It actually allows light to pass through it like stained glass. This is the basis of the Pitch Piney project.

Here's how they look hanging in front of a sheer curtain in my lab.

Plain Pitch Piney
In addition to being visually striking Pitch Pineys have a pretty strong smell of pine trees. This will grow less pronounced as they outgas. 

They will also darken from UV light. They will go from yellow to orange to brown to almost black if you wait long enough. (It takes decades)

 I made a video about them.

You could sand them if you're into that. Here's what one looks like sanded. Kind of hard to tell the difference when it's doing its thing. Sanding will release more of that smell. Be sure it doesn't bother you. It kind of makes my face burn, same as latex balloons.
Polished Pitch Piney

But I did a video showing how it goes when you sand one just in case anybody wants to have a go.

Thanks for your interest in Pitch Pineys! Here's a hatchling gopher tortoise I saw in my yard this week.

Hatchling Gopher Tortoise, Keystone species in the Longleaf Wiregrass Savannah.
My hand is just to show scale. I do not disturb the animals by touching them.

Here he is the next day after he got rained on overnight. You can still see his egg tooth!
Slightly cleaner hatchling gopher tortoise