This category includes everything that doesn’t quite fit into any of the other folkart categories. There are carved boxes, a woodspirit, a cedar coathook that would be perfect for your country cabin, and maple sugar molds.
Maple sugar molds are fascinating in their own way. Did you know that one of the things early settlers looked for in the Midwest was sugar maple trees? Remember, this was a time of slow travel and scarcity. Maple sugar represented a cash crop during a time of the year when cash was in short supply! The settlers would tap the trees and boil down the sap until it was a very, very thick paste. They would then pack the paste into oiled molds and let it cool and harden. When hardened, they would rap the molds against a table or counter, knocking the molded sugar out and sell it. People would break off a piece of maple sugar and use it just like cane sugar. Maple sugar was an important part of the early settlers’ economy.
The molds were two inch thick spare pieces of wood — generally spruce — carved in an inverted relief pattern. The interior of the pattern was singed to seal it and then it was oiled. Spruce is hard to come by these days, so my molds are made of two inch thick pine. Settlers singed the inside by holding it over a candle flame; today that effect is achieved using a propane torch. The singeing of the inside makes the pattern difficult to see, but I did my best in the pictures presented.