Practically Seeking

September 2010 (Issue 32)

And we're Back!
Happy Labour Day Weekend to you all!
It has been a crazy and harried summer, and we apologize profusely for being so out of touch.
Much of our summer was taken up with searching out a new location for Practical Primitive, and we finally found a great one that we are really excited about a little ways north of here in Warren County NJ — 13 acres of woods and open areas, surrounded by plenty of additional woods, with lots of deer and other wildlife, great plant & tree diversity and a "unique" house we have affectionately nick-named "The Hacienda".   :-)
We will be closing on our new place in the next few days, and look forward to seeing folks for our first Open Skills Night there on Sept 15, and when our new Fall/Winter workshop schedule begins on September 17 with Survival Bows: 3 Bows in 3 Days.

In other summer news, our TX Hunter-Gatherers survived their Outing splendidly in the heat of a Texan June, and learned some great lessons (I hope!) in spite of the crazy weather and insane heat. You can check out some of the photos of their grass-thatched longhouse shelter on our Facebook page.
Our New Jersey Hunter-Gatherers returned from their Outing in the Adirondacks a couple of weeks ago, where they learned some good lessons about the rain and wet. We haven't had time to post the pictures yet, but we will for sure as soon as we are settled in our new location (and can find the camera again!)

It's hard to believe that Hunter-Gatherer season is over for the year, and we are already gearing up for our next set of  Intensive Skills Programs. Secrets in the Stone is back, starting at the beginning of October and running through to the beginning of January. This is the ultimate Flintknapping program and if you want to learn there is no better opportunity out there. By following the program Eddie has designed and doing the work as it is laid out you will take your knapping skills to a level far above what you can now imagine!
We are also introducing a NEW Intensive Skills Program this fall — Weapons: The Tools of the Hunter. This one is brand new and is gonna be pretty sweet. It focuses on learning to use and become proficient with a wide variety of traditional hunting tools from around the world and throughout history. Check out the program details below.

In case you haven't seen it yet, our new Fall/Winter Workshop schedule has been posted and includes a trip to Toronto in October and one to Texas in November. We now have workshops scheduled through March 2011 so be sure to check them out!
So much has been happening, and there is so much to talk about, so let's move on to the details.
Hope you all had a wonderful and adventurous summer, and we'll see you soon!

e & j


What's New Upcoming Events Skill of the Month Eddie's Bookshelf Practically Speaking Final Note

What's New

Practical Primitive is on the MOVE!!
New Location as of September

Practical Primitive is moving to a NEW LOCATION as of SEPTEMBER 2010.
We hadn't wanted to jinx things before they were finalized, but we want to let you know that beginning in September we will be working out of a new facility in a new location. We are very excited about this beautiful piece of property in Warren County, close to all sorts of protected forest land and and only about 10 miles from the Delaware Water Gap. This new place will provide for so many new opportunities, and we are looking forward to being able to continue to grow, and to provide you with ever more and varying possibilities to learn!


Batch #2 available in Pre-Order!

The first run of our Starnater Reliant Woodsman's Knife sold out and the response from folks who have been using their new knives has been tremendous --- one guy even ordered a second one already!
We are now taking orders for the second batch, which we hope to have in stock in this next month -- we will be sure to keep the website updated as we get more info from the maker.
The first batch sold out quickly so be sure to get your deposit in without delay!

New On YouTUBE!
Popsicle Stick Drill #2

Following up on the success of the first drill, Popsicle Stick Drill #2 is now up on YouTube!
This exercise will teach you exactly what area of the billet to use, and how to avoid overstrike -- one of the most common reasons for breaking your point.
If you haven't tried these drills I strongly encourage you to check them out and add them to your flintknapping practice. You won't believe the difference they will make, if practiced consistently. So head on over to our YouTube channel, or our Virtual Instruction page and give em a try!

Free Open Skills Nights

September 15 (First OSN at our New Location!)
October 20
November 17
Come on out and join us for our FREE Open Skills nights the third Wednesday of each month. Bring a project you're working on, a plant ID guide, an animal tracking book, or just come to meet us and spend an evening hanging out.
It's fun, it's free, and everyone is welcome. We never know who will be here, or what folks will be working on, but we do know that it's always a great evening.
We look forward to having you here!

(Check out photos of some past Open Skills Nights on our Facebook page!)


Practical Primitive Logo

WEAPONS: The Tools of the Hunter
NEW Intensive Skills Program for Fall 2010!

The tools of the Hunter have changed over the eons, but throughout time their purpose has remained the same: To Protect and To Feed the tribe.
In this brand new Intensive Skills Program we'll be taking inspiration from Hunters throughout history and around the world.
You'll learn to make and/or to wield:

and more.
You will also learn the Basic Rules of Marksmanship, how to hit your target under pressure, how to work around obstacles, the importance of silence, maintaining stillness, and much more.
This is a six-month program that will be running October-March, during which we will get together for one 2-day weekend each month (Saturday and Sunday). Due to the nature of this program we have decided to open it up to either 4 or 6 participants, depending on the number and quality of applications
This is going to be a FUN and intense program that will prepare you for all sorts of situations, and we encourage men and women of all ages and skill levels to join us!

Further details and the application form are available on the website. We have already begun receiving applications so don't delay. If you have any questions feel free to send us an e-mail or give us a call.
Program Length: 6 months (October - March) of 2-day weekends
No. of Participants: Limited to 4 or 6
Tuition: $2800
Application Deadline: September 30, 2010

Unparalleled Flintknapping Intensive is Back!

This is the third time Eddie has offered this amazing program, and each time he has tweaked and altered it just a little to make it even better than the previous year.
If you are interested in learning to flintknap, or in taking your existing knapping skill to a new level, you will not find a better program than this.
Over the course of 4 months Eddie has taken people with virtually no previous flintknapping experience and, through a deliberate program of exercises and drills, brought them to a skill level that would normally take years, or even decades, to achieve. From points larger than your hand but thinner than you finger, to the replication of Clovis and other styles of artifacts, and a true knowledge and understanding of the way stone works and how you can work with it.
If you are willing to do the work, and take the time to practice the exercises and the assigned homework each  month, this 4 month Intensive program will take you places about which you had previously only dreamed.

Further details and the application form are available on the website, and if you have any questions feel free to send us an e-mail or give us a call.
Program Length: 4 months (October - January) of 2-day weekends
No. of Participants: Limited to 4
Tuition: $1750
Application Deadline: September 20, 2010


Upcoming Workshops

Fall & Winter Workshop Schedule is Online

Our Fall/Winter workshop calendar is now up online, with many popular favorites and a couple of exciting new courses, so be sure to take a look!
We're off to Ontario in October and are headed  back to Texas in November, and you can also check out what's coming up January - March 2011.
Look forward to seeing you at our new place soon, but in the mean time, here's a look at what's coming up in the next couple of months…


17-19   Survival Bows: 3 Bows in 3 Days
24-26   Short-term & Small Group Shelters


8-10     9 Step Knapping™ — Toronto, ON
16        Acorn Processing — Toronto, ON
17        Intermediate Flintknapping — Toronto, ON
23        Blowguns & Thistle Darts (Guest Instructor, Doug Meyer)
24        River Cane: Tools, Toys & Gadgets (Guest Instructor, Doug Meyer)


12        Fire Making
13        9 Step Knapping™
14        Acorn Processing
26        Fire Making — Clifton, TX
27-28  9 Step Knapping™ — Clifton, TX


Skill of the Month

One-String Sling

Using Cordage: The One String Sling

The ability to improvise and adapt is paramount to a successful survival strategy. Used for centuries by many different cultures, the Sling has proven it's worth as a simple but highly-effective weapon for both gathering food and smiting foes.

The One String Sling can be fabricated from a single piece of cordage in mere minutes, and the technique can be adapted to many other uses, such as a tumpline for carrying burdens.
So let's get started!

(For photos to go along with these step-by-step instructions check out our website.)


How to Make a One-String Sling:

  1. Cut a length of cordage that is twice the length as from the tip of your index finger to the outside edge of your opposite shoulder.
  2. Hold the cordage at one end and measure in from the tip of your index finger to the center of that arm's shoulder joint and place a mark at that spot.
  3. Lay your marked cordage down on a flat surface, and working from that mark toward the opposite end, place the palm of your hand right on the edge of the mark and mark the cordage again on the other side of your hand. Working down the length of the cordage, do this 6 more times, making each mark a full hand-width apart, for a total of 8 marks. This will make a pouch for a projectile about the size of a golf or tennis ball. 
  4. Beginning at the second mark and stopping at the second-to-last mark, fold the string on each of the marks so they lay parallel to each other in an multi-curved "S" shape, with the long ends running out straight in opposite directions. You should have three curved sections of your cordage at each end with a long "tail" running off in both directions.
  5. Beginning with either end of your "S", carefully pick up the curved section that is closest to the "tail" and place it on top of the center loop. Next, take the other curve and stack it on top of the other two loops.
  6. Secure the other end of your "S", where the strands should still be in their curves, with a finger or weight so they cannot move while you tie your knot in the opposite end.
  7. Going back to the end with your stacked loops, take the long "tail" of cordage from that end and wrap it OVER the top of the loops, then around and under the bottom of the loops, fully encircling your still-stacked loops.
  8. Take the end of your "tail" and place it under the wrap that crosses over the top of the strands, then poke it through the center of the stacked loops to create your knot. Snug this knot down carefully, making sure it encompasses all the strands. Essentially you have created an overhand knot with the main cord running through the loops, which will prevent the knot from slipping.
  9. Repeat steps 5-8 for the opposite side.
  10. Tie a retaining loop on the longer end of your cordage, and a small "grip knot" on the opposite, shorter end. Thread the grip knot end through the retaining loop to provide a perfect-fit loop for your thumb to secure your hold.
  11. Your pouch should be centered between your thumb loop and your grip knot. If it is off-center, adjust the placement of your knots until you find that perfect center position. You are now ready to "sling away"! 
  12. This technique can be used to make a 3, 5, 7, or 9 strand pouch. All will work, but 7 strands is my favorite as it seems to offer the best security for the projectile.

Always use your sling WELL away from other people or property.
Practicing with tennis balls can reduce the risk of property damage or injury.

Until next time, Sling Away and Have Fun!

Special Thanks to our good friend Doug Meyer for sharing this cool project with us.
See Doug's Blowguns & Thistle Darts and River Cane Tools, Toys & Gadgets workshops
on our October workshop schedule.
His first time offering these in New Jersey, they are not to be missed!

Eddie's Bookshelf

Plaited Basketry with Birch Bark

Plaited Basketry with Birch Bark

—Vladimir Yarish, Flo Hoppe & Jim Widess

This book was first shown to us by one of our Ontario students, and are we ever glad she brought it along!
There are very few books out there on making baskets and fewer still that deal with using natural materials. To find such a well-laid out volume with excellent instructions, a variety of projects from beginner to advanced, and beautiful color photos throughout is a treat beyond measure.
Using both traditional and modern basket-making techniques, this large-size, almost coffee-table-style book goes through all sorts of methods for making beautiful baskets, containers, ornaments and even shoes and slippers, all out of birch bark. Somewhat different than the type of woven baskets traditionally seen in North America, this style of weaving comes from Russia and Scandinavia. Even if you are a complete novice you will have no trouble following the excellent instructions provided for the 18 different projects depicted.

There is a very interesting history of this style of birch bark weaving, and an excellent section on how and when to harvest birch bark. The projects are so well thought-out that they can easily be adapted even if you do not have access to birch bark, simply by using a good quality paper.
For those of you who may wish to test your metal and take the next step in this art-form, there is an "artist's gallery" of photos of works by Master basket-makers and weavers that will take your breath away.
At under $25, (under $20 on Amazon) you will not find a better, more detailed, more beautiful book on basketry. We highly recommend adding this one to your library, and look forward to adding some of these beautiful projects to our own display shelves soon!

To find more information on this and other recommended books, see our website.


Practically Speaking


There is a popular school of thought that goes "That which you focus on is that which you will manifest". In other words, the harder you think about something, the more time you spend thinking and talking about something, the more likely it is to actually happen. Most people use this philosophy in regard to the "big" things in life, such as getting a job or finding a house or curing an illness — and I have both seen and experienced amazing results by applying this in my own life.
But the same idea can be used in reference to much smaller skills and projects as well. It all comes down to Focus.

Focus is quickly becoming a lost art in today's world. Everything around us now is geared toward multi-tasking. iPods, Blackberrys, music videos, movies, video games… it seems as though the idea of working on just one task at a time is considered old-fashioned and wasteful. Even our cell phones are no longer even phones as their primary function, and Gmail has just introduced a beta-version of their new "Priority Inbox" so you don't have to be bothered with all of the "second-tier" correspondence upon logging in.
But is all of this splitting of our focus helping? Are we becoming happier and more productive? Are we getting things done faster and more efficiently leaving us all the more time to spend with the ones we love, doing the things that bring us joy?
No. The answer is an unequivocal and resounding No. Study after study has shown that the more "multi-tasky" we become, the more frenzied, harried, inefficient, frustrated and depressed we get. Unfortunately for the majority of us, just "tuning out" all that extra buzz is not an option. At least, not if we want to keep our jobs!
But there is a way to combat the chaos; Practiced Focus.

Practiced Focus is something that many of you will find extremely difficult at first, but persevere. Choose a single task, and starting from the very beginning, work your way through that one project until it is completely and perfectly finished. Primitive Skills projects are great for this type of exercise, as they engage your hands and your brain in a way that is different from what most people do in their every day lives. Start small, perhaps with a simple basket design, or a specified length of cordage, and bring all of your focus into completing that project or task to the absolute best of your ability. Just "done" is not enough here. Make it as perfect as you can. As beautiful as you are able. Focus NOT on the "Big Picture", but on each and every tiny detail.

As I said, this will be a very difficult exercise for many of you, as much of our world today has become about "getting it done", not doing it WELL; about moving on to the next item on the list as quickly as you can, not carefully and meticulously cherishing every detail of this one.
So for those of you who are not quite sure where or how to start, here are some thoughts and questions to help you along your way:

  1. What is the purpose/use for this project? What do you need to accomplish here? Keep this ultimate objective in mind as you proceed with your project.
  2. Visualize the finished product in use. See yourself using it and showing it to others as an example of the finest object you are currently able to produce. Feel the pride in knowing that you have done your absolute best, leaving nothing "on the table".
  3. How do you need to adapt your methodology to fit the materials you are using? Green vs. seasoned wood? Hard vs. brittle rock? Clay that coils well vs. clay that does not like coils? Engage your creative brain to adjust what you have tried before to work with what is currently in your hands right this moment.
  4. Ask yourself the following questions continually throughout your project: "Is what I am doing moving me closer to creating my ultimate objective?" and "Is what I am currently creating going to work for that use which I had originally visualized?" and "Is what I am doing going to manifest my thought/desired outcome?" If, at any point, you realize that the answer is "no" or "maybe" or "I don't know" then stop, focus, adjust, and THEN continue.

When you are finished with making your project the absolute best that you can possibly make it be at your current skill level, then take some time to admire it! Show it off! Find a place of honor in which to display your newest masterpiece.
Then take a longer look and think how you might like to improve your skill level in order to make this item even better the next time around.
Keep in mind that practicing absolute focus does not mean that your project will turn out museum quality perfect -- that's not what this is about! It is about completing one specific project to the absolute best of your current ability. If you never put everything you have into creating something, then you'll never know how far you've come, or how far you still have the opportunity to go.

So Focus. Spend time. Observe. Practice. Reflect. Manifest. And discover the joy that exists in the simple knowledge that you have done your absolute best, and created Perfection, in so far as you are currently capable, for this project, in this place, today.

One Final Note

This newsletter has been a long time coming, and we appreciate all of the support that you have shown us as we have been in the process of making such a huge transition. So much is changing now, as we move to a new location, begin a new "indoor based" schedule for the coming winter months, start a whole new set of Intensive Skills Programs, and begin reaching out to a brand new local community in Central/North Jersey.

It was a very busy summer, and frankly we don't know where the time has gone. As we settle in to our new facility we are really looking forward to sharing all of the exciting new projects and opportunities that will be arising over the coming months and seasons.

In the mean time, the days are getting shorter, the leaves are starting to turn, the early acorns are already starting to fall and warm summery days are giving way to the perfect sleeping weather of cool autumn nights.

Until next time, take advantage of every sun-lit moment and enjoy this magical changing of the seasons!

Be Well,
Eddie & Julie
Practical Primitive

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