Practically Seeking

September 2011 (Issue 40)

Happy Labor Day! 

Okay, okay, so Labor Day was a couple of weeks ago now, but considering that to us, it still feels like it should be July… I ask again, where did the summer go? But gone it is (here in the northeast at least) and we are now in full-on Fall preparations. Our last Practical Primitive Corn Roast is coming up at this Wednesday's Open Skills Night, as well as our final Plant/Mushroom walk of the year, so we hope you'll come out and join us!
In other big news, we are now taking applications for our upcoming Secrets in the Stone Flintknapping Intensive! This 4-month program will consist of one 2-day weekend a month from November through February and if you've been wanting to learn to flintknap, or to take you knapping to a whole new level, there is no better program available. There are more details below and if you have any questions feel free to call or e-mail anytime. We're looking forward to seeing your application!

We have also added a bunch of additional workshops to our Fall/Winter schedule, as well as 3 more Interactive Online Webinars, filling out our 2011 offerings. There is still space in the ever-popular Acorn Processing, coming up this Friday, our final Shooting the Longbow workshop of the year is the Friday after that, and Atlatl, Natural Navigation, Natural Cordage, Survival Skills 101, Doug Meyer's Blowguns and Using Gourds workshops and a bunch of others are all coming up over the next couple of months.
We're also going to be up in Massachussettes the first weekend in November running two Emergency Preparedness & the GO Bag Skills 2 You workshops, and we're looking forward to seeing our New England neighbors there!

For those of you how have been waiting patiently for your copy, our 9 Step Knapping DVD is now expected to ship out this coming week. A multi-day power outage at the replication facility (thank you Irene) caused a delay in the production schedule, but we hope to see them on our doorstep shortly. (Yay!)

All right, I've rambled on long enough — let's get to the good stuff!

e & j


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

What's New

9 Step Knapping DVD!
Shipping Update

A multi-day power outage at the production facility (courtesy of Hurricane Irene) has caused a production delay and we are currently still waiting on a new shipping date from the replicators but we are still hopeful that the DVDs may ship to us this week and we most certainly ship them out as soon as they arrive.

We are still taking pre-orders for the 9 Step Knapping DVD, and you can pre-order yours today for $24.95!

For those of you who have not taken a knapping workshop here, Eddie has developed this amazing new Flintknapping teaching method over the past 5 years or so and I can't tell you what a difference it has made to the people he has taught: Folks who have never held a rock before are turning out usable bifaces in a SINGLE DAY!
He is so excited to be able to offer his incredibly easy system on DVD and hopes it will make the art of Flintknapping more fun, more accessible and easier to understand for a whole new generation of flintknappers. 

Check out the New Trading Blanket!
T-shirts, DVDs, Books, Soaps, Salves, Gift Certificates & more!

Don't forget to check out the new Practical Primitive Trading Blanket!

This is your one-stop-shop for all things Practical Primitive, including our new line of T-shirts, the 9 Step Knapping DVD (and other DVDs as they arrive), the Principles of Natural Camouflage companion book, our Home-made Soaps, the ever-popular Wonder Salve, Gift Certificates and more.

We'll be continuing to add to products and services to the Trading Blanket as time goes on so we hope you'll go and check it out!     

Workshops Scheduled through the end of 2011!
October, November & December workshops finalized

With our Massachusetts trip now confirmed for the first weekend in November we have now posted the rest of our workshops for the remainder of 2011! As the weather begins to get colder and the days inevitably get shorter we will be once again moving toward those skills that can be worked on indoors. You'll see more details below, and we look forward to seeing you then! 

Free Open Skills Nights

September 21 (Final Corn Roast of the Season!)
October 19
November 16
Come on out and join us for our FREE Open Skills nights the third Wednesday of each month at our new location near Hackettstown. 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. Things generally start up after work (6-ish) and folks come and go throughout the evening. We never know who will be here, or what folks may be working on, but we do know that it's always a great evening.
We look forward to having you here!

Open Skills Night EDIBLE PLANTS WALKS with Dan Farella from Back to Nature. Dan will be conducting these fun and informative walks beginning at 6pm every OSN throughout the summer.
For more info check out our Events Page.

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


New Webinars Added to 2011 Schedule
October, November & December Webinars now Scheduled

Register in advance for any or all of our upcoming Webinar workshops and then use the login information to attend from any computer. There is no software to download and no special program required — just enter your login and password and voila!
If you can't attend the LIVE event you will be able to access the recorded version the following day. And remember that whether you join us LIVE or watch the RECORDING, you'll be able to access to the webinar for a full 30 days!  

Shelter Building Principles
Wednesday October 26, 7:30 - 9:00 p.m. (Eastern)

The ability to build a shelter is one of the most important skills for anyone who spends time outdoors to learn. More people die of exposure than anything else and your shelter IS your defense! This webcast will be a discussion of those essential Shelter Building Principles that need to be followed to create a shelter that will keep you warm (or cool), dry and safe in any environment at any time of year, whether or not you have an abundance of leaf debris.
And yes, we will be talking about DOORS!
See more information on our website...

Sign Up to attend the LIVE event or watch the Recording as of October 27.
Live Event: $20 / Recording: $25
(30-day Access to Recording with all Registrations.)

Emergency Preparedness 2: The "GO" Bag
Wednesday December 28, 7:30 - 9:00 p.m. (Eastern) 

This session will focus on the main mobile module of your Emergency Kit, The GO Bag. Many people will tell you that you should have a GO Bag prepared, but they don't tell you what you should have in it! This evening will take a detailed look at the specific "just in case" items that should be kept inside, discuss why every item is important and the many ways in which each one can be used.
You never know where you might be when an emergency occurs which is why, just like the name implies, this kit should go with you, everywhere you GO.
See more information on our website...

Sign up to attend the LIVE event or watch recorded version as of December 29.
Live Event: $20 / Recording: $25
(30-day Access to Recording with all Registrations.)

Available Recordings of Previous Webinars

Emergency Preparedness Basics, Session 1: What Am I Preparing For???
Sign up to Watch the RECORDING and have unlimited access for a full 30 days. ($25)

Principles of Natural Camouflage
Sign up to Watch the RECORDING and have unlimited access for a full 30 days. ($25)  


Practical Primitive Logo

November 2011 – February 2012
One 2-day weekend per month

Our Secrets in the Stone Flintknapping Intensive is back! This one-of-a-kind Knapping program is unlike anything else we've seen out there and if you practice the exercises and do the homework, we guarantee you will acheive flintknapping success that will meet and even far exceed your expectations for these four months.

Be one of only 4 people to work hands-on with Eddie, a 25-year veteran flintknapper who has honed not only his flintknapping skills, but his ability to teach those skills to others. His remarkable ability to break down this complex art into simple exercises that anyone can comprehend and reproduce make this a program unlike any other. 

You will work your way through millions of years of history and discover how, far from being inferior, stone tools in many cases work as well as or better than their modern conterparts. From there you will move through Eddie's specially developed 9 Step Knapping™ program, which will open up to you the entire world of arrow points, knives, daggers and blades. You will then move on to the more advanced shaping, thinning and notching techniques, all the way up to those of the Clovis and Folsom cultures, including fluting, and artifact replication. You will also learn how to properly notch, haft and sharpen your points so that they can be used for display or for hunting.

Whether or not you have done any flintknapping in the past, if you are ready to slow down and listen to the secrets of the stone we look forward to hearing from you! The rock has been sitting and waiting for millions of years for you to pick it up. Are you ready to learn what it has to teach you? 

See our website for complete program information or to submit your application.

Location: Great Meadows, NJ
Program Length: 4 months (November 2011 – February 201
Times: One "Saturday/Sunday" weekend per month
Tuition: $1395 ($500 deposit due upon acceptance)
Application Deadline: Midnight, Monday October 24, 2011

Upcoming Workshops

2011 Fall Workshop Schedule is Online

Our 2011 Fall workshop scheduleis in full swing, and we have added many new workshop to rest of our 2011 workshops — Be sure to check it out!
Here's a look at what's coming up in the next month…


         Tracking Basics
3          NEW! Primitive Man Traps - An Historical Perspective 
4          The "GO" Bag
10       Woodland Foraging
11       Foraging & Gathering: The Hunter-Gatherer Mindset
12       Intermediate Flintknapping
16-18 Survival Bows: 3 Bows in 3 Days
19       Survival Arrows
23       Acorn Processing
30       Shooting the Longbow


Skill of the Month

The Uber Match

The Uber Match

The ability to get a fire going can be the difference between life and death. That is why I always have multiple means of creating one at my disposal.
The Uber Match
is simple to make, and when done correctly is reliable, along with being highly water and wind  resistant. Why you would NOT have a couple of these in ANY outdoor kit I cannot fathom!
Though traditionally made using strike anywhere matches (yes, you can still find them in this post 9-11 world) they can also be made using strike-on-the-box varieties -- just make sure you have the box striker as well or you are screwed.
An Uber Match can burn for 5-7 minutes easily, produces a much larger flame than a standard match and gives off far more heat.

A major trick to making sure your Uber Matches will really work well is to allow a little bit of space between the matches and just below the match head.
Now onward with the process!

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

How to make an Uber Match:

  1. Take out 4 matches, preferably of the strike-anywhere variety. (These are the ones that have a white tip on the red match-head.)
  2. Completely unroll a regular cotton ball, and then split it in half, length-wise. (One cotton ball makes two Uber Matches.)
  3. Melt paraffin wax (our preferred wax for this and available at your grocery or hardware store) or any other type of wax (old candles, crayons, beeswax, etc) in a small container over low heat. An old tuna can works great for this and will sit easily on the stove burner.
  4. Take one of your matches and, starting just below the tip (make sure you can see a short bit of the match stick) wrap around the stick one complete turn with the cotton.
  5. Take your second match place it up against the first, then wrap the cotton once completely around the two together, as you did in step 4 above. Add your third and then fourth matches in the same manner, wrapping the cotton around all three, then all four matches, creating a square, not a line. This way of wrapping creates necessary air space between the matches to allow for easy ignition. (Remember fire requires fuel, heat and oxygen to establish combustion.)
  6. After all 4 matches have been wrapped together continue to wrap the remaining cotton around all 4 sticks until you have completely covered the match sticks all the way down to the bottom. Strive to make the wrap nice and even all the way down, as if you were wrapping a mummy for Halloween.
  7. Roll the now completely wrapped matches tightly between your fingers to really squeeze down the cotton wrapping.
  8. Give the BASE of your Uber Match a quick dip in the melted wax and allow to cool and harden slightly.
  9. Once the base is cool enough to handle, give the top of your matches a quick dip in the wax far enough that the entire Uber Match is now completely coated in wax. Set it aside and allow to cool. (For the sake of domestic relations, lay down a piece of aluminum foil for a cooling station — wax can be very difficult to remove from counters, stove tops and plates!) When the wax is cool enough to handle but still warm enough to mold, use your fingers to press the wax-covered cotton into the matches and shape each Uber Match to a nice smooth cylinder.
  10. After the wax has hardened on all your Uber Matches, place several into an old pill bottle or metal tin (along with the box striker if you have been forced to use strike-on-box types) and put this in with your camping gear/emergency kit/GO Bag. Allow the remaining wax to cool in the tuna can and it will be ready to melt again for your next set of matches!

Until next time, Enjoy the comfortable weather of Fall, and Have Fun!

Want to learn more about being prepared for an emergency?
Come out to our Emergency Preparedness & the GO Bag workshops
and check out our
What Am I Preparing For??? and The GO Bag webinars.


Eddie's Bookshelf

The Complete Mushroom Hunter

The Complete Mushroom Hunter

—Gary Lincoff

"There are old mushroom hunters and bold mushroom hunters, but there are no old, bold mushroom hunters."
So goes the old quote, and with those words always in the back of my mind I, like many others, viewed the world of mushrooming with an eye of skepticism and yes, fear. The Deadly Mushroom Myth has permeated our North American society even more deeply than that of the Deadly Wild Plant. There are, however, many varieties of wild mushrooms that are easy to identify, perfectly safe to collect and have a flavor unlike (and far superior to) anything available in most stores. These delicious, and often surprisingly nutritious (lack of nutritive value is yet another mushroom myth) can be yours for just a little bit of time and effort.

In The Complete Mushroom Hunter, author and "myco-visionary" Gary Lincoff demystifies this amazing realm of edible, medicinal, and utilitarian fungi. This book provides good descriptions of a wide variety of mushrooms available in North America, Europe and elsewhere, in a simple to understand format. Along with outstanding photographs and descriptions, Lincroff has added information on habitats and soil types,  preparation instructions, and even some very tasty-looking recipes. He is also careful to very clearly warn readers when they need to be extra cautious checking for the differences between the desired mushroom and any dangerous look-a-likes, and provides reference photos and symptoms of inadvertent ingestion in case you weren't quite careful enough. And the personal anecdotes that Lincoff has included about his own mushrooming adventures give this volume a refreshingly personalized touch.

I really liked this book; it is well-researched, nicely documented and easy to follow. It was a real revelation for me to discover that mushrooms are not nearly as dangerous as I had been led to believe and most of the toxic look-similars in the mushroom world have pretty much the same "gastro-intestinal upset" symptoms as those in the plant kingdom. They aren't all out to kill us and melt our livers!
If you have any interest in venturing into the world of gathering this oft-overlooked segment of nature's bounty but maybe weren't sure where to start then this is a book for you. It has really piqued my interest and gotten me excited to head out and search the leaves and the trees for the many shapes, sizes and colors of MUSHROOMS!

(Thanks to Dan Farrella for turning us on to this author.)

Note: For those of you who live in the area, Gary Lincroff teaches courses on mushroom identification at the New York Botanical Garden. Check him out!

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


Practically Speaking

Worst... Week... Ever...

So this may start out sounding like a bit of a rant, but I ask you to bear with me... I do have a point.

"I'm sorry, but that is a completely different department."
"This is not the right number for that question."
"I am aware that it's not anything that was your fault but you will still be charged extra."
"I can't help you with that."
"I'm going to transfer you."
"If you're going to keep talking I can't answer your question."
"Please leave a message and we'll get back to you."
"Click... Bzzzzzzzzzzzzz"

This past week I have been transferred, dismissed, ignored, yelled at and hung up on by "Customer Service Representatives" from multiple different businesses, both large and small, all across the U.S.
I am not amused.
Having grown up "in the industry" and trained by the Ultimate Guest Pleasing Machine that is the Disney Corporation I am well aware that there are a lot of people out there who would benefit greatly from a good old fashioned slap every once in a while, and there are even more who do their best to take advantage of any situation, and still more who "shoot the messenger" so-to-speak and abuse CSR's badly.
I also know that as a Representative of my Company to the Consumer it is my job to do my best to help that person to the utmost of my ability and turn even the worst of situations around into such a positive experience for the customer that they will not only refrain from bad-mouthing the company to family and friends (and these days, to everyone within Facebook and Tweeting distance) but maybe actually come back and patronize the business again.
Based on my experiences this past week, that kind of thinking is now, apparently, "old school".

And here is my point...
Each one of these horrible experiences (one of which, btw, is still ongoing) has made me think harder and harder about how Eddie and I interact with each one of you. Our whole business model and mission is built on the foundation of having real relationships with our students; of knowing each person as an individual and teaching to those individual needs.
I know there are times I have fallen down on the job there — times when things here have been so busy that e-mails and messages have gone unanswered for far too long, or newsletters have been missed or days of piled up frustration have come through in my tone of voice. And that's just no good. YOU are the lifeblood of our business! YOU are the reason we are here! YOU make it possible for us to do what we love for a living and call it "work". YOU are the ones who are going to carry the skills that you learn here, the knowledge that is the birthright of every human being, and pass it on around the world and down through the ages to future generations.
We know that. We appreciate that. We appreciate you.

Running a small business is not an easy thing, especially in the kind of uncertain world that we are living in these days. But we aren't just doing this for the hell of it. We are doing this because we truly believe that what we do is important! That, especially in these messed up times, we all need to reach out and help each individual to find their own connection back to the earth that is our home.
As Chief Dan George so famously said: "What we don't talk to, we don't know. What we don't know, we fear. What we fear, we destroy." Any way that we can help someone, anyone, everyone to start a conversation with the natural world around them, we can alleviate the "fear of the unknown" that accompanies that "off the beaten path" existence and maybe, if we're really lucky, help to ignite the spark that will lead a person to care, to fight, to build, rather than destroy.

That's our Mission. To make these skills and this way of living as Accessible, Affordable and Attainable as we can to as many people as we can reach. If I fail in that some days I apologize, and hope that you will forgive the delays and mix-ups and mistakes that come with having way too much to do and way too little time to do it. We are constantly adding new projects to our list before the current ones are finished because we keep coming up with new ideas that will help us to SHARE this stuff we love with even more people. Not the most efficient way to run a business I suppose, but sometimes excitement and passion for what we do gets the better of us. But I like to think our hearts are in the right place. I hope you do too.

We say this at the end of every workshop, and now I'm saying this to you as well, about this newsletter, the webinars, the forthcoming DVDs and every interaction you have with Practical Primitive: "If you learned something and had fun, please tell everyone you know. If you didn't, then Please tell us so we can fix it."


One Final Note

The leaves are already turning red on the Dogwoods and yellow in the Black Walnuts, the Beechnuts and Acorns are getting ready to drop, the deer are trading the red summer coats for the darker, grayer winter ones… Fall is knocking on the door.

Summer went out with a bang here this year — with earthquakes and hurricanes and tropical rains reminding us that Mother Nature is still very much in charge. But in spite of the downed trees and flooded homes and power outages and leaky roofs, it is still a wonderful thing to drive past the farm stands overflowing with home-grown tomatoes, sweet corn, peaches, apples and all the delicious bounty of the late summer harvest.
September 13 marked the celebration of our first full year in our new home, and we want to thank all of you for making it such a great one. Moving a business is never an easy thing and always a bit of a risk, so we have deeply appreciated that so many of you have let us know that our new place is a place that you enjoy coming back to again and again! We always look forward to seeing your smiling faces.
The days are getting shorter and nights are getting cooler (even down in Texas!) and as we begin the transition to a new season we wish you all a wonderful "New Year"!

Be Well,
Eddie & Julie
Practical Primitive

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