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  • Mescal Bean prep...

    I suggest you set up a drill press (or use a regular drill) with the smallest bit you can find. I have found that if you take a piece of two-by-four or even one-by-four and drill an indention a little larger than the beans, you can rest the bean in the indention and drill away. Make sure your drill longways down the bean, not sideways through the little white spot. That looks ridiculous.

    You should then either bake the bean or run a hot wire through the hole. I've even boiled them. After they have been drilled, wash 'em off. You can use shellac if you want, but when it wears off, it looks bad. Apparently, there's a bug that likes to live in the beans and eventually eats its way out, causing your beans to powder and crush.

    You're right, the beans are poisonous, so don't breath the dust from the drilling and wash your hands good before you eat or touch anything like your eyes or mouth.

    If the beans are too old they might be ruined. Try crushing the beans between your fingers. If they don't powder or break apart while drilling, you should be ok. Hope that helps.

    - P

  • #2
    My hubby and I used a really small awl like tool that is used in ceramics. We held it into a candle and burnt through. (End to end not side ways;) )
    Never baked them. The burning seemed to seal them. We were never told to bake them.
    We were told to watch the dust and to wear a mask. And to be very careful of the powder.
    "We see it as a desecration not only of a mountain but of our way of life. This is a genocidal issue to us. If they kill this mountain, they kill our way of life." ~Debra White Plume

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    • #3
      I LIKE TO USE A SOLDERING IRON WITH A WIRE SUCH AS A COAT-HANGER WITH THE END GROUND TO A POINT. I HAVE ALSO DRILLED THE BEANS USING A DREMMEL WITH A SMALL DRILL BIT AND HELD THE BEAN WITH A CLOTHES-PIN.

      JUST AN IDEA......

      WA-DO/A-HO
      BOB

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      • #4
        SDinAZ

        If you a dremel ;) that is the ticket. Man that will put a bit through a bean in a blink. Be sure to hold them with a widened pair of regular pliers keeps it from slipping around and maybe getting your fingers.

        As for backing I have tried both before and after and found little to no difference either way in the end result.
        PB49

        "Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up." Pablo Picasso

        "Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, but today is a gift...that is why is it called the Present." Master Oogway - KungFu Panda


        My comments are based on what I have been taught and my experiences over the years I have been around the circle. They should in no way be taken as gospel truths and are merely my opinions or attempts at passing on what I have learned while still learning more.

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        • #5
          When my brother made his bandolier he was told to use a heated sewing needle to make the holes. You hold the needle with a pair of pliers and then use a candle or something like that to heat up the needle. Get it red hot! It should go through fairly easily. This will kill the bug inside and seal your beans. Follow everyones advice and do it outside! I hadn't heard about it being poisonous but I did hear you could get a major buzz going! :p So be carefull!! I have a friend who didn't want to use the hot needle, so he just put holes through them and strung it. Now every year, at least, he has to clean off his bandolier to use because of the white powder from the bugs. Oh, except for last year! He left it laying in a drawer with some horsehair he uses for making gourds. He had a moth attack or some other bug, and they ate most of his horsehair! The good thing was they also cleaned the bandolier!! It's looked pretty good since then! Who knows!! But I would heat them to be safe!

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          • #6
            I use a small awl or coat hanger, heated over a candle or such. If it's hot enough will burn right through (end to end) not sideways. Have never heard of baking or boiling. Was only told to burn or drill. Have drilled but didn't like holding the beans with pliers or anything. Didn't want to damage the outside with marks from pliers. Also when burning - didn't have to worry about dust - even when doing 300 or so for a friend.

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            • #7
              I drilled all of my beans. If you do make sure you're in a well vented area, the dust is poisonous. Never baked mine been used
              for ten years and never replaced any yet. Maybe the prayers I said while drilling helped. I have a solid row of beans and a solid row of silver. That's how I was taught.

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              • #8
                I 've made 2 bandoliers so far(1 dk.red,1 orange) and used the method that PWB49 recommended.I actually got alot of help from people here on the board(the forum should be archived)also the lady that I receive my beans from stated that you can also freeze them for awhile to assist with getting rid of the bugs.

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                • #9
                  Almost forgot.......the dust or interior of the bean is highly toxic,especially to pets.So hand,eye and respitory protection is recommended.-M

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                  • #10
                    Straightdancerinaz: I have a tobacco tie with some sage and cedar. I was taught that this is your medicine tie.
                    Does anyone else have any other teachings. I am always learning as well.
                    BOB

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                    • #11
                      I'm sorry it has taken so long to get back online. Went to our annual over the weekend. Had a good time! I forgot to mention I was taught that I should use Indin perfume[lilac] in my bundle on my bandolier. Again it's what ever your preference.

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                      • #12
                        Toxicity...

                        I encountered this thread at random in a net-search, looking for sources of the toxic principle. I can't help you in the slightest with knowing what is traditional, or acceptable - I'll leave that to the rest.

                        I can help with the toxicity issue. Dealing with deadly poisons, however, is -always- going to be an activity fraught with risk.

                        >I know he mentioned something about drilling, or burning
                        >rather, a hole thru with an ice pick, then to bake them.....all of
                        >this done outside, as he did mention that there's some nice
                        >smells and chemical burn off that happens when you do
                        >this....toxic?

                        Immensely toxic. It takes about a half-bean to kill the average person, as I recall - coma, respiratory paralysis, and death. In making a necklace, you're bound to vaporize enough of the alkaloids to kill a small mob of people.

                        Regarding the burning you mentioned - the average dust-mask is not going to stop vaporized cytisine, which is the active/toxic compound. The best bet as a breathing apparatus is to bubble air through an acid - vinegar should work - to bind the cytisine in its salt. Make certain you wash your hands before smoking, eating, or drinking.

                        Interesingly enough, the nootka lupine - which has the same toxin and several related compounds, albeit in slightly lesser quantities - were considered a food item in the region which is now British Columbia. The alkaloids are reputed to steam out quite well - though I have no idea whatsoever just *exactly* how much water "four clamshells" is.

                        I have no idea whether it is acceptable to steam, boil, or soak in vinegar before drilling - I'll leave that to those who do know. It is, however, probably the safest way. If manually drilling, dust-mask/goggles/noseplugs should keep the dust from killing you; if burning, anything which doesn't stop, say, tobacco smoke isn't going to stop vaporized mescal bean from killing you.

                        ...though good ventilation helps.

                        :) Best 'o luck to ye. :)

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                        • #13
                          I posted this question sometime back......when I was Straightdancerinaz, thanks to folks who responded.

                          Anyhoo. I don't know about that last post. But, I can tell you this much. I've breathed in my fair share of Mescal bean smoke.....and nothing has happened. Of course, I know if you INGEST the beans...you're going to the coma wing at the hospital for sure....or you've got a good chance of ending up there.

                          My father drilled some beans once, then left them outside on the clothesline to dry or air out or something. Anyway, it rained, they got wet, he went to unstring them from cord he had them on. He basically grabbed a lot of them and pulled them off into a bag. In the process, he said some kind of a fluid, probably some of the stuff inside the bean mixed with rain water got on his hands. About an hour or so later....he broke out in this blister like rash. He washed his hands off....and it subsided with no further ill effects or scarring.

                          Ever since then, he's been pretty careful of his preparation and in not getting them wet.....hence, the baking. I was told the baking sort of seals in the interior, or at least hardens the exterior and makes it harder for the weevil like creatures to get inside the beans.

                          So, I know they're toxic....I just find it interesting that indians would make use of a toxic, potentially deadly substance for use in ceremonial or dance items.

                          On another note.

                          What is the significance of this small bean? I mean, you see it on many things, mocs, bags, dresses, necklaces, various types of ceremonial items all over the place.
                          "This next song goes out to some girls in dot com. They don't know who they are, but, it doesn't really matter anyway."




                          "When the God's wish to punish us, they grant our prayers."

                          O. Wilde

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                          • #14
                            I don't if this is true but I heard they represent the skunkberries............ I don't know you might be better off asking whome or zotigh or numunu1971......
                            Dayum I make some keen DrumSticks!!!!!!sigpic

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                            • #15
                              red bean

                              as i was reading through this tread, i was very surprised to realize how little the crafters know about their mescal beans. If you do not know why the bean is important, you might as well be using a plastic bead from wal-mart. because it's history is rather profound and should be kept in your thoughts and prayers whenever handleing it. The bean was used as far back as at least 5000 BC for visions and other spiritual rituals. But it's inherent qualities make it quite dangerous as well so i dont recomend playing around with it unless you are being guided by someone who you trully trust to know what they are doing. I think all too often people just accept that these traditional materials are used, and never question why. The answer to 'why' is usually the most important aspect. Yeah... mescal beans are pretty, but so too would be a simple plastic bead to people thousands of years ago. As far as i know... No one ever communed with the Creator after ingesting a plastic bead.

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