Saturday, July 17, 2010

The Story Stick- Keeping A Record of the Ordinary Days

A story stick is a piece of wood or a rod used by cabinetmakers to record the dimensions of a project  on site and is then taken back to the shop to construct the project. Not being a woodworker, it's a bit hard for me imagine how it's used so here is a link at that might be helpful to you cabinetmakers out there who want to ditch the tape measure.

There are Native American Talking Sticks, used in counsel, and I found this article at The Call of Story about recording and sharing stories and this looks like a fun thing to do. I'm imagining things tied in with the yard- seashells, washers, little twigs, keychains, who nows what treasures you could find.

But we didn't know any of that last summer when my kid started her story stick. It was a spontaneous idea that popped to the surface as she sat on the bench drawing on her latest stick treasure. We're hikers in our house and are always on the look out for a good hiking stick.
I did a quick Internet search and didn't find anything quite like this but that doesn't mean it's not out there. You adapt it to your needs. Find a nice sized stick that feels good in your hand when you hold it. Carefully strip off all of the bark and clean off all the dirt and tree-clingy things.

When you look closely at the story stick, you see that it is covered with small drawings. Every evening my little storyteller drew a picture of something she did that day, using a basic black Sharpie----

Sitting at the picnic table reading.

Fencing class.

(Someone is being unsafe without their mask!)

New horses in the field.

Extra time allowed to play on the Wii.

A nice sunny day.

The dog kept running away so we had to tie him up.

One day my daughter came to work with me and helped the patients during a craft group.

Changing the sheets on her bed. That's not such an unusual thing but this day we flipped the mattresses too.

The new puppy barking at the old dog.

We bought a new cabinet for the TV.

Um, yea-- something about driving Daddy's truck but they were both being vague and sheepish about this one.
And on it goes- a trip to Barnes & Noble, pitching the tent, roasting marshmallows, something about tribal Indians in the Amazon (our dream-fantasy trip is up the Amazon River).... just the ordinary things that we do from one day to the next. I tell my daughter that we need those ordinary days to keep us calm and steady.

Once the Story Stick was full of stories, my daughter coated the entire thing with Polycrylic, using a foam brush.

We used Polycrylic because it was what we had on hand, left over from a previous project. It is low-odor, dries quickly (for sealant) with a nice clear finish, and is water-soluble. Polyurethane would work just as well, probably even Mod Podege (I would suggest the Outdoor flavor).

Make sure you get your sealant into all the little cracks and dimples.

Let your stick dry- check the label of the sealant for drying time.

Next- add the shazaam, those elements that make any project really special. In this case we added ribbon and pony beads. Shells, twigs, washer and bolts, jingle bells, anything that can be tied to a ribbon would work nicely.

It's all about letting your imagination run wild.

Last step- tie your ribbons to the top of the stick. This stick had a nice nubbin' from a branch to hold the ribbon and keep it from sliding down off the bottom. You may need to cut a notch, fire a staple into it, hammer the ribbon down with a thumb tack, whatever works for you. It looks nice to have the ribbons at different lengths when you tie them on.

And there you go- ready to sit around the campfire telling stories.

Which makes me think of an upcoming post--- S'Mores.


  1. OMG this is seriously cool! What an amazing idea. And a treasure to last a lifetime.

  2. This is incredible! I'm sure that she will treasure her story stick for forever!

  3. This is a great post and treasure, visiting via the Crafty Crow. I love the pony beads too.

  4. What a fabulous idea! We found some lovely ocean preserved sticks at the beach recently and now we know what we will do with them! What a wonderful keepsake!

  5. That is way cool I now have my eye out for a good stick. Thanks for sharing a wonderful idea.

  6. This is ingenious!! A definite project for back to school. Thanks for sharing. I found this on 'Crafty Crow'!

  7. Thank you ladies for all the fabulous comments. Each evening after dinner when my kid would sit down to decide what to draw about on her stick (primitive blogging?)we often had nice conversations. It's a great way to find something in each day to celebrate. Hope you enjoy it as much as we did.

  8. Oh wow that's really a great project!
    I use to know about native's talking stick but absolutely never about cabinetmakers!
    Going back home every week we always speak about all the most beatiful things we've done and moments to be remembered. This stick could be perfect for us! Do you mind if I'll post our stick in my blog obviously linking your such beautiful post? Thanks

  9. What a wonderful idea and project. This is certainly something I would love to do with my daughter for each season.
    It would be a great idea for the days leading up to Christmas to draw something she's thankful for each day.
    Thanks so much for sharing.

  10. Just shared this with our readers. What a great idea. Can't wait to create one with my kids. Thanks!