026 Fleece Rugs, Keeping Sheep, Heritage and the Shetland Islands with Helen Hart

 

In this episode I chat with Helen about some of the traditional crafts she’s involved with, how she became involved in them, and what draws her to them. We talk about keeping sheep, natural dyes, fair isle knitting, burning peat, willow basketry, the fleece rugs she makes, and so much more! Like many of us she is a dabbler in many traditional crafts, with a passion for learning about heritage crafts– in particular those from the Viking era.

Oh yes, and I also spend way too much time asking about the Shetland Islands. . . =) I didn’t know much about them and Helen was gracious enough to indulge my curiosity! Fortunately she has a passion for learning and understanding the local culture as well as sharing what makes it special.

Resources

@hart_of_shetland — Helen’s instagram page, go take a look at the rugs she’s making!

hartofshetland.co.uk — Helen’s website

If you’re interested in learning more about the Fire Festival (Up Helly Aa) or the Shetlands in general I’d suggest taking a look at www.shetland.org

025 Home Butchery and Using the Unusual Bits with Jake Levin

Do you raise and butcher your own livestock? Process the game animals you hunt? This episode is for you. . .

And me! I have very limited butchery experience, but it’s something that fascinates me. There is a definite art to the trade, but at the same time it seems so straight forward and like you would be following basic principles throughout the process.

Regardless, this time of year would have been the traditional butchering season in northern latitudes and just about every rural family would have been processing their yearly meat in addition to putting up their harvest for the winter. Many of us no longer raise, slaughter, or butcher our own animals anymore (something I think keeps us too removed from the reality of what is going on with our food), but I thought that I would like to do an episode that revolves around home butchery and talk about some of the basics.

I also believe that we (Americans at least) let too much of the animal go to waste these days, and that if we truly respected the life we were taking we would utilize more of the parts that often get discarded. Fortunately, Jake is a nose-tail butcher so we also discuss various cuts that often get overlooked and what you can do with them.

Resources Mentioned

therovingbutcher.com (also the best place to buy The Smokehouse Handbook authored by Jake)

The Roving Butcher on Instagram

The Roving Butcher on Facebook

Butchering Beef by Adam Danforth

Butchering Poultry, Rabbit, Lamb, Goat and Pork by Adam Danforth

Butchering Chickens: A Guide to Humane, Small-Scale Processing by Adam Danforth

Youtube video of Bryan Mayer breaking down a pig

Northeast Organic Farming Association

Raven and Boar Farm

Hancock Shaker Village

The Butchers Guild of America

The Farm Travelers Podcast

023 An Overview of Flintknapping with Mike Cook

This week we’re talking flintknapping– learning about making and using stone arrowheads and knives. We discuss the knapping from a high level perspective, with a little bit of how-to and the principles involved, a bit of considerations for using your stone blades and tips, things to keep in mind when getting started, etc.

I consider flintknapping to be a foundational skill– almost all other technologies are based around having a blade in order to cut with, and I thoroughly enjoyed chatting with someone who is good at it.

I love these really old, prehistory type skills that are the foundational blocks of technology that we all share somewhere in our past. Some of the things we discuss were specific to an area or people– creating blades from rocks is definitely not one of those!

A big thanks to Rich Williams from episode #21 for suggesting I chat with Mike!

Resources Mentioned:

artofishi.com — Mike’s website

@artofishi — Mike’s instagram

Art of Ishi Youtube Channel— Video on notching here, shaving video found here

Flintknappers.com — a link to Mike’s gallery is found here.

Directory to knap-ins found on flintknappers.com — honestly, when searching I found reference to a number of other knap-ins not listed here, but no real good directory where you could go and look for one in your area, you’ll have to do the legwork to find them yourself! Let me know of the ones you know about and I’ll put together a list for other folks.

PaleomanJim Youtube Channel

Flint Ridge Knap-In— Facebook Page, I don’t seem to be able to pull up their website.

The Art of Flintknapping by D.C. Waldorf

022 Exploring the History, Archaeology, and Construction of Throwing Sticks with Michael Frank

 

In this episode we delve into throwing sticks (also called boomerangs or rabbitsticks) and how to make them! Michael is an archaeologist by education so we also discuss some of the historical and archaeological examples from around the world.

Throwing sticks are perhaps one of our earliest hunting tools and it is always fascinating to learn how to create something like this that is so simple yet sophisticated at the same time!

From a functional standpoint, I love learning how to craft a weapon from something so elemental as a stick, from a scientific view I enjoy learning about the physics involved and how complex they really can be, and from an artistic viewpoint I appreciate their simple beauty. Hope you try making one!

Key takeaways for making your own throwing stick:

  • Use a dense/tough hardwood.
  • Violate the grain as little as possible.
  • Use a piece of wood roughly 2 feet long and 2 inches wide, with a 135 degree bend in it.
  • Make your throwing stick around 3/8 of an inch thick in the middle and tapering to the edges.
  • For optimum flight your throwing stick should be shaped so it is flatter on the bottom and more domed on top.

Resources Mentioned:

Occoquan PaleotechnicsMichael’s website and business

@occpaleo on instagram

Occpaleo on Youtube

Throwsticks.com

Tracker SchoolWilderness survival and awareness school, Michael and I have both been and we mention it a couple times.

Smithsonian Museum of Natural HistoryI also specifically mentioned using their searchable online database to look things up, I highly recommend you check it out, the link (directly to the anthropology department) is here.

Books Mentioned:

Outdoor Survival Skills by Larry Dean Olsen — apparently getting hard to find and expensive?

Tom Brown’s Field Guide to Wilderness Survival by Tom Brown Jr.

Primitive Technology: A Book of Earth Skills by David Wescott

021 Introduction to Scrimshaw with Rich Williams

 

Scrimshaw, the mariners art.

I loved learning about this traditional folk art! Many of you know that I tend to personally lean towards the traditional rural/peasant crafts– what would have been common practice by people living their daily lives. I love to learn about making things in general, but that is what really calls to me.

Scrimshaw seems to find that void between art and craft in my mind, it is hard to say it was anything but art — used to decorate other items– but it was done by the average seaman with very limited tools using what they had on hand. It just seems more of a commoners’ art form than something like painting.

This week I talk with Rich Williams about scrimshaw– everything from choosing material, prepping it, tools and techniques used to engrave it, filling it in, maintenance of pieces, and legal issues you need to be aware of in regards to sourcing material. We also talk about the origins of scrimshaw and its history as a craft up through the present day.

Overall, this was a fascinating conversation and I really enjoyed connecting with Rich. He has a love of history and working with his hands that I could relate to and learn from, hope you all do as well!

Resources Mentioned

scrimshawandmore.com — Rich’s website, check out the gallery pages to see some of his and his students’ work!

John C. Campbell Folk School

The Henry Ford Greenfield Villiage

William Holland School of Lapidary Arts

Advanced Scrimshaw Techniques by Jim Stevens

The Scrimshaw Connection by Bob Engnath

Tools

Micro Brushes

Craft Blades

Tripoli jewelry polish

Optivisor head magnifier

Ink — Doc Martins or FW india ink