Burlap Fiesta

This Friday, a truck will deliver fourteen bales of hay to the Oakland Museum of California. The hay was sourced by the museum's Miriam Lakes, who found a farmer in Petaluma who sells hay.

 The hay will be used for the Oakland Standard’s Hay Fever program, an evening of lectures and demonstrations that investigate the contemporary interest in old-fashioned self-sufficiency. After the evening ends (it begins in the museum gardens this Friday, May 13, at 6:30; the square-dancing lessons will be over by 9:00), the hay will most likely go to Julio Flores, a gardener at the museum, who will feed it to his horses.

The complete list of talks and workshops can be found here. If Julio doesn’t use all of the hay, leftovers will adorn next month’s Felt, a live sheep-shearing event at the Museum. Visitors to Friday’s Hay Fever program will, upon arrival, receive a print (probably from a laser printer, but still, it’s awesome) of this lovely map made by the artist Corinne Matesich. This map, which I think I’ve already mentioned is lovely, will be rolled up and hand-tied with string by volunteers—possibly the CCA graduate students who assisted OMCA curators in putting together the evening’s program. The maps will be distributed by volunteers wearing burlap sacks cut and sewn together by the aforementioned Miriam Lakes, from a huge roll of burlap currently resting in a corner of the Oakland Standard's office.

Burlap-adorned volunteers will also distribute free goodie bags stuffed with sheep pelts (that Miriam sourced from a ranch in Covelo, CA). These pelts will remind visitors that if they’re interested in Hay Fever, they’ll be wise to return to the museum on June 19 for Felt program. Which is to say: if you like animal-hide fashion and lacto-fermentation, you’ll love raw wool, dye felt, and lanolin. (Is it a coincidence that pelt and felt are so linguistically friendly?)

There is at least one piece of false advertising on the Hay Fever schedule: there will be no dandelion wine. The wine is currently fermenting, but it’s not going to be ready for consumption by Friday. Instead, Miriam Lakes is home-brewing ginger beer. (Miriam appears to be doing a lot of work for this event.) Home-brewed hard cider and mug-root wine will also be on hand. It’s illegal to sell your own home brew, so these beverages are all donated to the museum. In order to obtain a one-ounce sample, visitors will sign a release form essentially stating the signer’s awareness that home-brewing has risks. This release form will then be whimsically nailed to the wall, and the home brew will flow.

Finally: the “Animal Hide Fashion” workshop was originally slated to feature lessons in repurposing roadkill for clothing, until it came to the Oakland Standard’s attention that it’s illegal to scavenge hides from roadkill that's native to California. Hides of domesticated animals, on the other hand, are legit, so the workshop will focus on livestock pelts instead. The demonstration will also include an Australian kangaroo skin.