Monthly Archives: November 2016

Tour Daufuskie Explorers Membership

Are you looking for a great outdoor activity to offer your family?  Want some help entertaining your guests that come to visit Daufuskie?  Would you like to kayak or paddle board without dealing with the logistics of buying, storing, and maintaining the vessel?  Looking for a unique gift for your adventurous family?

If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, then a Tour Daufuskie Membership could be right for you!

What is a Tour Daufuskie Membership?

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This all-inclusive one year membership is a great way to explore the island from multiple angles.  You’ll gain a number of guided golf cart tours, access to hours of kayaking and/or paddle boarding, free merchandise, and discounts on apparel.  Every level up offers more adventure, and you can upgrade at any time.  One membership is good for an entire family; you may divide up the tours and kayaking hours however you’d like!

Daufuskie residents, you will realize the benefit of having this membership ready-to-go when friends and family visit.  Instead of worrying about how to entertain your guests, send them off for a guided tour or a paddle on the water!  They’ll come back with a greater understanding and appreciation of this little island you call home, and you don’t have to worry about being their tour guide.  Leave that part to us!

Once you buy a membership, all that’s left to do is explore and have fun.  Pay now and leave your wallet at home for the rest of the year!

For more information on the Tour Daufuskie Explorer’s Membership, give us a call at (843)842-9449.

Daufuskie Island Conservancy

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The Daufuskie Island Conservancy, established in 2005, helps to protect what it is that makes this bridge-less island so special.  With the slogan “Love it, Save it, Share it”, the Conservancy’s goal is to protect & manage the natural resources of Daufuskie while educating the public about the island’s unique ecosystem.

The Conservancy hosts a series of public environmental talks, each discussing a different aspect of Daufuskie ecology.  Topics include sea turtles, gardening, alternative energy, and fishing.  This year, the Conservancy joined forces with the Daufuskie Island Historical Foundation to showcase “the year of the oyster”.  This is year-long series of educational talks, social gatherings, and field trips celebrating the importance of oystering on the island, past and present.

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The Conservancy’s “Adopt-a-Road” program was established in 2009 to tackle the issue of litter on Daufuskie.  Willing residents “adopt” roads on the island in a promise to keep them free of litter.  A monthy clean-up day is established, but most volunteers casually pick up trash as they see it day-to-day.  Many of the Adopt-a-Road volunteers are also involved in two beach sweeps annually.

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Daufuskie keeps its charming roads clean through the Adopt-a-Road program

One completed Conservancy project that is considered a large success by many is the implementation of a new recycling center for the private community of Haig Point.  First established in 2007, the intention was to reduce items going to landfill while educating Haig Point members about the benefits of recycling.  In 2011 this center got a major upgrade to a large single-stream recycling center including drop-offs for paint, e-waste, batteries, and more.

The downside to this project is that it serves only Haig Point; Daufuskie residents outside Haig Point gates are left without a recycling option.  For the environmentally-minded residents on Daufuskie, bringing recyclable materials to the dump is a frustrating and unethical experience.  The Conservancy has been working to create an all-island waste management facility which would include recycling.  Conservancy members developed a Solid Waste Integrative Services Study and presented it to Beaufort County in the hopes of establishing island-wide recycling, but have encountered roadblocks along the way from the county of Beaufort.

To learn more about the projects and programs that the Daufuskie Island Conservancy offers, visit their page.  In addition, the website has wonderfully detailed information regarding native plants and animals on the island.

 

 

 

 

 

“Daufuskie Blues”, the indigo artisans

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Leanne Coulter and Rhonda Davis have hit the Daufuskie artisan scene with their new endeavor, Daufuskie Blues. These ladies use organic indigo to create eye-catching dye patterns on scarves, cloths, and other fabrics. Indigo is culturally significant to this area of the South, and Daufuskie Blues is honored to be carrying on the tradition with this unique and tricky dye.

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a selection of Daufuskie Blues’ indigo-dyed fabrics

Before the synthetic age in the late 1800s, using the indigo flower was the only way to obtain blue dye.  Interestingly, the first successful cultivation of indigo in America was done by a 16-year-old girl named Eliza Lucas.  After her success, indigo quickly became one of the colonies’ largest exports.  Indigo was economically important because blue dyes were so rare, and it represented a status of wealth. Civilizations were shaped by their choice and ability to produce indigo dye, and South Carolina was no exception.

Rhonda and Leanne started Daufuskie Blues after taking an Organic Indigo Vat workshop together.  “We spent the next two years on our front porch. We’ve had an indigo vat going almost consistently ever since we took that class two years ago,” explains Leanne.

The “Blues girls” create an indigo vat by combining organic indigo powder with a fructose source, such as bananas, honey, henna, or any non-acidic fruit. Indigo itself is non-soluble in water, so you must break it down in the reduction vat. Leanne compares the vat to a kiln, in which you need to remove oxygen for the process to occur.

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the indigo vat

Once the dye is prepared, you can simply dip a material in the vat and pull it out. Interestingly, the color starts off as a light green. Only when it oxidizes with the air does it change to the indigo blue color. “It’s magical. It’s just so magical,” says Leanne. By adding folds, twists, or stitching, the Blues girls create a variety of interesting patterns of color in their fabric. Lately Rhonda has been experimenting with nautical shapes, such as turtles or starfish.

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When applied to fabric, the indigo dye is initially a light-green color.

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Rhonda Davis uses stitching to create nautical shapes

Why do the Blues girls love working with indigo? “Indigo is so different from any other natural dye,” says Rhonda, “…The culture, the history, the mystique surrounding it, the amazing way it physically works, and the process of maintaining the vat of dye”. Indigo vats must be given attention; it needs stirred daily and requires to be fed fructose to keep the dye active. “I mean, it’s like you’re caring for a little living thing, you know?”

Leanne is also drawn to the unique qualities of indigo and appreciates the complicated process it takes to create the dye. “Other dyes are so easy to use. You either cut the plant, get the root or whatever the dye material is, cook it up, strain it, and that’s your dye product.” Not so the case for indigo! The traditional way to extract the indica (dye property of the plant) is to place the indigo in a large vat of water, beat the indigo many times to allow the sediment to come out, drain the water, and repeat the process over again. “And that’s the process that was used in South Carolina,” adds Rhonda.

As Rhonda mentions, mystique and lure surround the indigo vat. Many believe that the vat must be kept “happy”, which means keeping it away from certain people. This includes pregnant or menstruating women, people who are depressed or suffering, unpredictable children, etc.

While indigo is the Blues girls’ staple dye, they have been expanding and experimenting with other natural dyes.  Can you guess what creates this natural pink dye that the ladies use?

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The answer might surprise you: it’s a bug!  Cochineal is an insect native to South America, Mexico, and Arizona.  The insect is crushed and dehydrated into a powder, which the Blues girls then use to create the dye.

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Daufuskie Blues is currently located in the historic Maryfield School.   Future plans including growing their own indigo to harvest their own dye, and providing education to visitors about the dye extraction process.  Stop by to learn more!

Grey Fox Squirrels on Daufuskie

If you have ever taken a tour around Daufuskie Island, chances are that you have seen a very peculiar animal scurrying about.  Appearing to be an over-sized squirrel with grey and black coloration, these curious creatures stop tourists in their tracks.  They are Grey Fox Squirrels, and have been prevalent on Daufuskie Island for hundreds of years.

Daufuskie Island Fox Squirrel

Daufuskie Island Grey Fox Squirrel

Why do the Grey Fox Squirrels look so different from the rest of the squirrel family?  Scientists have come up with an interesting hypothesis, and it all comes down to the relationship between the squirrels and a tree.  Fox Squirrels love to eat the seeds from cones of the Longleaf Pine tree, which used to be very prevalent on Daufuskie.  Longleaf pine cones produce some of the largest cones in the Southeastern United States (see below).  It is thought that their large body size was advantageous for the Fox Squirrel when trying to manipulate the pine cones to extract the seeds, and over time larger body sizes were selected for.  Their black-and-grey coloration may have something to do with Longleaf Pine as well.  This pine tree is extremely fire-resistant and flourishes in areas that experience fire.  In historic times on Daufuskie, leaf litter would build up on the ground and lighting strikes would cause fires.  The smokey colors of the Fox Squirrels may have helped camouflage them in a charred forest.  Whatever reason for their funky appearance, they are certainly a special species on our island!

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Longleaf Pine cone size compared to other species (Louisiana State University – Plant ID)

 

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A close relative to the Grey Fox Squirrel is the Eastern Grey Squirrel, pictured here

 

Daufuskie Island Black Fox Squirrel

Daufuskie Island Fox Squirrel

 

 

Interested in finding out more about wildlife on Daufuskie Island?  Join TD’s Naturalist in a “Wild Daufuskie” Eco tour!

The Iron Fish: new venue

written by Renee Harding

The Iron Fish Gallery & Studio has drawn national attention to Daufuskie Island with Chase Allen’s rustic coastal sculptures since opening in 2001.  This past summer The Iron Fish debuted its new gallery venue just a stone’s throw away from the original location.

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Starting in 2001, Chase Allen’s Gullah-constructed home created a unique and welcoming backdrop for his art gallery.  The gallery showcased sculpted fish, mermaids, stingrays, blue crabs, turtles, and more directly on his own front porch.

The Iron Fish original gallery venue...

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The Iron Fish gallery originally nestled on Allen’s front porch

This year Chase has officially outgrew the porch and moved his art next door.  The new venue won’t be difficult for visitors to find – it is still on his home property.  Completed in summer 2016, the current venue presents The Iron Fish artwork on a double-sided covered walkway.  With clearly marked parking spaces and an obvious entrance, visitors no longer will question if they’re trespassing.  The open space helps to showcase the variations in artistic theme work in a more polished light.

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The new gallery, debuted Summer 2016

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As always, you’ll likely find the artist himself hard at work in The Iron Fish studio, which is directly behind the gallery.  What else is new at The Iron Fish?  Chase has just finished up a 125-bird suspended installation at Palmetto Bluff Outfitters.  In addition, if you haven’t stopped by The Iron Fish recently to check out the new “Put a Light Behind Me!” collection, it is certainly worth the trip.  These back-lit pieces of artwork are coming soon to the Iron Fish website.

 

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Chase Allen welding Iron Fish artwork