Archive for January, 2011

Jan 31 2011

Mittens and choppers

Published by under Animal Materials

The pictures below are from a pair of mittens and choppers I completed a little while ago. I´ve  just recently started to take more pictures of the crafts I´m working on, and will keep in mind to have photos of work-in-progress available in the future.

The choppers are made from grain-on buckskin (with the hide being from a whitetail deer, Odocoileus virginianus, a species common in the area where I currently live), the mittens are tanned hair-on racoon skin, with the hair turned inside. Both are sewn with artificial sinew, though sinew would work just as well.

Choppers and Mittens

The advantage of having separate choppers and mittens is that they can be dried out much faster when wet, which is especially important when you only have a small fire or body wamth to dry out your gear.

The racoon mittens are soft and warm, and I find them to be a good alternative to wool mittens.

Buckskin tends to absorb water fairly fast; leaving the grain on helps a little bit with water repellency. To increase the latter, I applied a mix of beaver oil and pitch to the chopper. I find that I never get the fat-pitch mix quite to the point where they completely mix (some of the pitch settles on the bottom of the container I use for mixing and heating), though it seems to do the job. Below is a picture of the oiled choppers, the color changed to a pleasant reddish-brown.

Oiled choppers

Beaver oil has a very low melting point (around 30F/-1C) and therefor makes an excellent choice for leather work. Beaver fat is also very nutritious and tasty – I prefer to eat it unless I come across some rancid fat (which I then render to be used as utility fat, like in this case).

It´ll be a while till my next post since I´ll be in the woods for the next few weeks. To make it clear, I don´t consider myself as an “expert” in any of these skills and crafts. Like probably most of you who read this, I didn´t grow up in a traditional (hunter-gatherer) culture where those skills are practiced from early age on, though I´ve experimented with and used a variety of them over the years (and the people who know me could probably make a better judgement of that anyways). I say this because following a passion like this may not get you a lot of encouragement and recognition, especially from the dominant culture, and it can sometimes be a challenge to keep going with it. Yet I´d choose this life of richness and connectedness any day over one of comfort and material wealth.

I appreciate questions and discussions, as I think that those can help us all with learning and growing. Have fun on your journey.

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Jan 31 2011

Guest Post

Published by under General


this is my first post here. Torjus and I have known each other for a number of years, and I recently asked him what he thought about me contributing to his blog…so this is why you see me writing here.  We both share a passion for a living simply, primitively, without many of the accouterments of modern society. (Yes I know we both use the internet 😉 ).

Torjus´ website is of high quality in my opinion, and I´m honored to be a contributer here.

A little bit about myself:

My name is Thomas. I grew up in Germany and have been living in various places (wild and not so wild) and communities in Europe and the US for the past ten years or so.  A few years ago, I did the Wilderness Guide Program at the Teaching Drum Outdoor School in Wisconsin, USA which was both shattering some illusions I had about “living primitively” while at the same time feeding my passion to continue pursuing such a lifestyle. Since then I´ve met and lived with a number of people who share similar interests, Torjus being one of them. Even though we currently live in different places – right now I reside in the Northwoods of Wisconsin – I really appreciate how we can learn from and inspire each other, exchanging our growing knowledge skills and craft projects. In our fast-paced, technological world, we seem to loose more and more connection with the natural world that sustains us, and the skills to live in a balanced relationship with it.

This is where my reason for writing comes in: I´d like to keep those skills alive, by practising, living them, and continue to learn by sharing with others who have a similar desire.

My posts will probably be pretty irregular as I frequently find myself spending time in the woods and like to be immersed without modern technology during those periods.

Looking forward to the sharing here,


3 responses so far

Jan 24 2011

Handdrill Video

Been practising filming and editing as I want to make some more interesting videos at a later date. Don’t laugh at the bad acting performance, ok? hehe

7 responses so far

Jan 21 2011


Lavvo is overdue for repair so I move in at least for a few days to ease the job with the skins.

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Jan 19 2011

Legs and stuff

I skin the toes of the reindeer along with the legskins now. More work, but more skin too. Makeshift ice scoop on other pic.

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