Archive for April, 2007

Apr 10 2007

Carved Snow Googles

Published by under Plant Materials

I’ve made a couple of pairs of these before, but this one is the first with stone tools only. I didn’t take any photos during construction, so I hope that my explaination will suffice.

First you need to find a bent piece of wood, mountain birch being a good alternative. I chopped it down with my moose antler axe and when I got home I split it in half so that one piece has the split surface facing out of the curve, while the other has the face on the inside. Use the one with the split face on the inside.

Determine how it will sit on your face and use a flake to saw it to lenght and make the groove for your nose. Clean it up with a beaver tooth or a flake. Beaver teeth works better when hollowing out the nose room since the edge is stronger. Take your time, making such googles isn’t done in a flash. Try to do as much work as possible while it’s green.

Next, measure where your eyes will be and carve out the eyeroom with beaver teeth. After this is done, chances are the wood will dry out very quickly, so do as much as you can at once. The slit through should be as long as possible, to allow for the best possible sidevision. Carving the slit is easily achieved and can be done both from the inside and outside. For maximum light blocking, go as narrow as you can.

Drill one hole in each end for the string. I used a hand drill tipped with a very thin bone point. It will burn hole more than anything else, but it works. Drill from both sides and punch (carfully) through with a bone awl. Finish it up, attach a line and coat it with charcoal (not done in photo) on the inside of the eyes.

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Apr 09 2007

Glacier Lilly

Published by under Foods

Today my daughters and I walked about in a burn area looking for some early morrells. While we struck out on the shrooms we did see lots of glacier lillys. I havested a few to show ya’ll. I noted that the bulbs that had no flower or the flower had not yet opened were much better and firmer than the ones that had flowers. There were tens of thousands of these ready for the harvest. I’ve read where a couple of hundred pounds of these were harvested by abo’s. They are sweet and nutty tasting.

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Apr 08 2007

Final Stage of Sinew Making

Published by under Animal Materials

The promised post to finish up the sinew processing. The pic below shows the dried elk backstrap sinew. Elk is very much larger than deer to work with but it also produces some very long strands. Moose would be much the same way.

Here I am giving the sinew a twist, bending it every which way possible. You basically just keep on doing that until it becomes loosened up. Deer take but a few minutes but this elk tore up my hands pretty well. It’s really strong stuff.

Here I splitting the sinew in half lengthwise. This will make it easier to torque around. Just keep working it until it wants to come off as threads. You can see the perpendicular cross fibers of the fascia that was left on it.

The final pic shows individual fibers that have been stripped out. Across them is a piece of nylon thread so you can get an idea of how large the threads are. I generally leave the sinew intact and only split off threads as I need them. Wet them to prestretch them before you use them. Sinew doesn’t take a square knot very well so one must use a figure 8 to begin to sew with them, or some other knot that doesn’t come out.

One last thing, when splitting anything including sinew the side that recieves more of the tension will end up thicker, so to keep a split uniform you try to keep the tension uniform bi-laterally. If you start to see the split make one side thinner then add more tension to that side. Make sense?

I’m going to be making some buckskin leggings next so check back in soon to watch them take shape!!

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Apr 05 2007

Snow Blindness

Published by under Fire and Camplife

The light from the snow can in spring be very hard on your eyes. The potential consequence being snowblindness. Having experienced it myself once, I can tell you that it isn’t fun and the condition would seriously impact your ability to provide yourself with food. The danger of becoming snowblind isn’t all that great as long as you stay in the forest, especially in the evergreen coniferous forest. But in case you need to go up in the tree less mountains or cross a big surface of ice, you will need some kind of protection.

Coating charcoal around your eyes will help a little, but to be properly protected you need some special googles. While I don’t know of any transparent natural material with UV protecting properties, the inuits (and probably others) made googles with slits in them, to reduce the amount of sunlight which hits the eye. Especially important it is to remove the reflection from the snowy ground.

If you of some reason has gotten snowblind, you need to stay indoors in the dark for a number of days days, the length depending on the severity of your case. You will know that you have been cured when it does no longer feel like needles stinging your eyes when you look outside.

Very soon I’ll post instructions on how to make more advanced snow googles of wood. Not many photos I’m afraid, but hopefully the text alone will be suffcient.

Here is a photo of some quicky birch bark googles in usage. They work reasonably well, but the slits could have been made narrower.

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Apr 04 2007

Thanks Torjus

Published by under Uncategorized

Thank you for the invite to help out on your blog. I look forward to helping this blog become a great resource for people who want to learn more about primitive skills. Perhaps I fantasize too much in dreaming that one day we might be able to put on a primitive skills gathering there in Norway!!

Just to let folks know a little about me. I am a traditional tanner who lives on a reservation in Montana, but I’m not an aboriginal American. I make my living as a traditional tanner selling garment quality skins to aboriginal women who use my skins to make clothing and moccasins. Traditional tanning as such is not practiced much among aboriginal people these days.

I have been making braintanned buckskins for about 14 years now. I have also lived very “primitively” for about 3 years straight at one point in my life which has given me a practical perspective on living simply. I did this with children which is also somewhat unusual for many primitive practitioners. One of my children was birthed 1/2 mile off the nearest road in a shelter I made, and without a midwife. I have a wide range of primitive skills that I know and practice but by far I am best at braintanning deerskins.

Thanks again Torjus. I look forward to contributing.


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