Handmade Sandals

Sandals in progress... If you have ever taken a class with me you might know that all the intimidating sewing isn't as bad as it looks.  The sole is three layers thick but the use of a good, sharp awl makes the double needle sewing go quickly.  A lot more work goes into these than … Continue reading Handmade Sandals

Winter Count is Coming

I'm happy to say that I will be heading to the annual primitive skills gathering known as Winter Count down in the Sonoran Desert. Thankfully, it has moved to a more remote location further into the desert and far away from the Phoenix sprawl.I will be teaching a course that I have been doing for … Continue reading Winter Count is Coming

The Joys of a Morning Quickie

Sometimes you have needs ... I needed a net bag for my water bottle while I'm on the road. I knew this was going to be a problem when I left home so I threw in a ball of string in case I had some time on my hands. I almost always bring something to … Continue reading The Joys of a Morning Quickie

Making a Self-Bow

A pictorial step-by-step of the bow-making process.  This quick look isn't intended to replace the one-on-one learning of a real teacher or to cover all aspects of the art that come from years of practice.  Expect both success and failure and don't let either one dominate your learning.  Education is a process, not an instance. … Continue reading Making a Self-Bow

Gourd Bottom Bags and More

Stacey has been adding her art to the shop lately so I wanted to give her a bit of a promotion here on the blog.  Among other things, she produces meticulous and beautiful art, beaded bags, earrings, and fiber arts.  Here are her latest additions to the shop. The smaller bag on the left is … Continue reading Gourd Bottom Bags and More

Tanning Leather: Not a Lost Art

Many years ago, in Morocco, I was able to tour an ancient tannery and see some of the process of creating beautiful leather.  I use leather for many projects and although I do some brain tanning myself, I purchase all of my truly "tanned" leathers from others. One very important lesson about tanning I learned … Continue reading Tanning Leather: Not a Lost Art

Arrows from Planks

Dowel Cutter - A useful tool for large-scale production A version of this post appeared here in 2012 but here is an update as prelude to a coming post. I've been using a Veritas dowel and tenon cutter to rough out arrow shafts from planks.  Quite a while ago I posted about the jig I … Continue reading Arrows from Planks

Bamboo Arrow Construction

Several years ago I starting documenting some of the arrow-making I do. I wrote the original version of this piece in 2012 but as it always draws a lot of interest I have re-edited it and am posting it again. Arrows have been much on my mind after seeing how ratty some of mine have … Continue reading Bamboo Arrow Construction

Primitive (but useful) Sewing Kit

Sewing I do quite a bit of sewing and I feel it is an essential skill for nearly everyone.  My sewing includes new buckskin trousers, cotton shirts, shoes, a few leather bags, backpacks, and repairs to clothes to name just a few projects.  All this has caused me to think about sewing without manufactured goods. … Continue reading Primitive (but useful) Sewing Kit

The Magic of Sinew

SINEW Sinew  is the term used to describe tendon or ligament in more formal English. It is the cord that connects muscle to bone or bone to bone in skeletal animals.  Like rope, it is made up of bundles of bundles of bundles as shown in this anatomical illustration. For our purposes, sinew is a … Continue reading The Magic of Sinew

On the Antiquity of Gourds

Gourds have played an important role in human history in both the Old World and New.  The origin, domestication, and spread of this and other plants was a topic of much conversation when I was in graduate school.  It seems now that its antiquity and introduction to the Americas is becoming much clearer.  This humble … Continue reading On the Antiquity of Gourds

Primitive Arts

Today I'm prepping to present some primitive skills on Saturday, from raw materials to finished goods. I'm also getting some kid's activities together to draw in the latest generation. An assortment of stone-age technology laid out to take to the public.

Making the Possibles Bag

Several years ago, I made a shoulder bag that I still often carry today.  It is the perfect size for a small field bag or hunting pouch.  It was a lot fun looking at various designs, mostly from the 18th century to try and come up with something that would fit my needs. When I … Continue reading Making the Possibles Bag

Pump Drills

In preparation for summer teaching I recently spent some time making a couple new pump drills for demonstrations and hands-on activities.  While some modern tools were used in the production, these are entirely hand-made with no purchased parts or plans.  As I have only made two of these previously I spent a little time perusing … Continue reading Pump Drills

Making a bow-drill fire

I was lucky to learn this method as a young Scout and have stayed proficient over the many years since.  To become truly skilled at this, I went through a period of making a coal every day with either this method or by hand drill.  I spent a couple days and nights out in the … Continue reading Making a bow-drill fire

Thoughts About Minimalism and Survival

Learning a thing or two from the past...Part 1, 21st century Westerners are not the first to minimalize. There's a lot of recent talk about Minimalism as a social movement and this fits well with my personal philosophy and my interests in preindustrial technology and survival.  Not long ago, minimalism was mostly associated with artists, … Continue reading Thoughts About Minimalism and Survival

Primitive Fishing

My fishing kit is coming together and I added another hook and leader last night. The left hook and gorge are made from deer cannon bone (metacarpal) and the right is whitetail deer antler.  The antler hooks are proving to be tougher and less likely to snap under tension.  The leaders here are yucca and … Continue reading Primitive Fishing

Learning by Replication

I study the technology of prehistory.  Because of this, I believe strongly in the benefits of experiential archaeology.  It gives perspective on a very deep level.  We can walk in the shoes of our ancestors, so to speak.  I say experiential here not experimental and I'm glad to hear this word coming into the dialog … Continue reading Learning by Replication

Raised With Wilderness Skills

Don't leave the kids out of the things you find important... Nota bene! The following ramble was written at three in the morning and may contain sentiment, ramblings, and a bit of opinion. I don't want this to sound preachy.  What was intended as a few childhood pictures from primitive technology events ran away with … Continue reading Raised With Wilderness Skills

Ghillies (simple shoes) again

Here's a simple shoe design that was made by our ancestors before there were shoe shops or Zappos.  Much of the Europe population, both male and female wore a variation of this for many millenia, right up into the early 20th century.  They are commonly associated with their Celtic cousins in Scotland, Wales, and Ireland … Continue reading Ghillies (simple shoes) again

Making Modern Spearthrower Darts (Atlatl)

Power Tools and Preindustrial Technology Recently, I realized I needed to make a new batch of darts (spears) for an annual atlatl event at Blackwater Draw.  This is a recurring problem when teaching large groups, so several years ago I came up with a system that works well for mass producing these Ice-Age weapons with … Continue reading Making Modern Spearthrower Darts (Atlatl)

How to Build an Earthen Oven — Savoring the Past

https://www.youtube.com/embed/i0foHjPVbP4?version=3&rel=1&fs=1&autohide=2&showsearch=0&showinfo=1&iv_load_policy=1&wmode=transparent The existence of ovens like this is easily documented for the 18th century. In fact, just about every ancient culture had a very similar oven. There’s one particular wood cut illustration from medieval times depicting an earthen oven built on a wagon. There are references in 18th century literature and also archaeological evidence that … Continue reading How to Build an Earthen Oven — Savoring the Past

Traditional Pottery Maker

I only know Kelly vaguely but I know she is an extremely talented artisan.  I am continually impressed by her skill level and ability to make it all seem so effortless.  I believe that is an indication of true mastery.  Here is a short documentary of her work to inspire the inner-Maker in you. Watch … Continue reading Traditional Pottery Maker

Raised With Wilderness Skills

Don't leave the kids out of the things you find important... Nota bene! The following ramble was written at three in the morning and may contain sentiment, ramblings, and a bit of opinion. I don't want this to sound preachy.  What was intended as a few childhood pictures from primitive technology events ran away with … Continue reading Raised With Wilderness Skills

Antler and Bone

Despite my lack of free time currently, I have been re-inspired to get back to antler and bone as a medium for tool production.  My only issue with them is that they are enormously time intensive.  Even using a modern saw and occasionally a steel rasp these take a lot of energy to make.  However, … Continue reading Antler and Bone

More Paleolithic Technology in the Shop

I recently finished another Paleolithic inspired spear thrower (a.k.a. atlatl).  This came about due to some throwing over the past year that re-energized my feelings about this technology and it's sporting aspects.  As usual for this type of project, I made several at once since the tools were at hand.  Here's a quick rundown on … Continue reading More Paleolithic Technology in the Shop

Trade Card from a Bow and Arrow Maker

An advertising card from when people appreciated hand made archery equipment.  No training wheel, gizmos, releases, or sights.  There is no date on the image but I suspect that late 18th century or early 19th century would not be too far off.  Apparently javelin throwing was in vogue at the time as well.  Now we … Continue reading Trade Card from a Bow and Arrow Maker

How to Improvise and Use a Three Stick Roycroft Pack Frame

Thanks to Survival Sherpa for posting this look at making a pack frame.  Making a quick, three stick pack frame is a valuable bit of knowledge.  How serendipitous that this came up (seems to be a lot of convergent thinking around my world lately) as I am beginning to tweak my own wooden pack frame … Continue reading How to Improvise and Use a Three Stick Roycroft Pack Frame

Huaraches!

There are still Huaraches north of old Mexico.  As I prepare to resole my huaraches I thought it might be good to look back on them as a very viable hand-made shoe. For a long time while searching for huarache construction techniques, I could only find the simplest tire sandals and many links to "barefoot" … Continue reading Huaraches!