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Primitive Skills

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Bone Tools

Making Bone Tools & Working with Bone

Bone is one of the most important corners of the "tools triangle" of the Stone Age. Stone, Bone and Antler were vital to any primitive tool kit, and bone tools work GREAT!
Anyone who has spent time in the woods knows the value of a simple pair of tweezers, whether for slivers or for ticks. Did you know you can make an easy replacement pair out of bone? Bone has been used in many different ways for many different tools.
During this workshop you will learn how to make bone knives, arrow points, fish hooks, awls, tweezers and much more. You will also learn which bones work best for what tools, as well as how to sharpen and maintain those handy bone implements. Get a great start on building your primitive tool kit, and learn the incredible value of Bone!

February 29 $95 Great Meadows, NJ   Date Passed


Workshops Below Are Not on the Current Schedule — Keep Checking Back to See When They Are Offered!


Fish hooks

Primitive Fishing

Never underestimate the value of fish in a survival situation! Take a day to learn the basics of a variety of fishing techniques, from the fish spear to primitive hooks and baits, from underwater traps to the collection and use of natural fish toxins.
You'll make your own hooks and lines, bobbers and sinkers and primitive reel, and a container to keep your primitive fishing tackle together. You will also learn about making and setting fish traps and how and when fish toxins will actually work for you.
Then, if the weather is in our favor, we will head to the pond and practice using our primitive fishing gear.
High in protein and essential fats, fish can be a tasty supplement to, or the solid basis of any wilderness diet — provided you know how to catch them!

›› This workshop is not currently on the schedule, but we'll let you know the next time it's offered.‹‹



Primitive Soap

Primitive Soap Making: Old-fashioned Lye Soaps

Making "Primitive" soap using lye made from wood ash and rendered fat is a much misunderstood process, and we have fielded many questions and dispelled so many misconceptions on this topic. When made properly, this type of soap should be hard, generate lather and clean just as well as "modern" or store-bought soaps — never ashy or greasy!
In this workshop you will learn how to make your own lye using wood ash in both the traditional and modern styles, how to bring it to the proper concentration for making soap, how to properly render fat, and how to put all your ingredients together to make a truly homemade product "just like Grandma used to make".
Each participant will take home their own bars of primitive soap to save, use, or show off to family and friends.


›› This workshop is not currently on the schedule, but we'll let you know the next time it's offered.‹‹



Primitive-fired Pottery

Primitive Pottery

Cups, bowls, pots, pans, storage containers... think for a moment about just how many containers we use in a single day. In many ancient cultures pottery filled this vital role and fashioning these objects from the earth was an indespensible skill for survival.
In this two-day workshop you will learn where to find and how to harvest your own clay straight from the ground on which you walk, and how to process it — allowing you to turn soils with even the most marginal of clay content into fine, pure, usable clay. You will make your own temper and add it to your newly-processed clay, preparing it to be hand-molded by you into beautiful bowls that you will fire in a regular campfire to take home with you.
Going far beyond any other primitive pottery class we know of, this workshop will change what you know about firing pottery without a kiln. Drawing on his almost 20 years of experience working with natural clays and primitive firing methods, Eddie will show you how to create useful and beautiful fired clay objects in a fraction of the time most others will tell you is possible.

›› This workshop is not currently on the schedule, but we'll let you know the next time it's offered.‹‹



NEW! Advanced Pottery Techniques: Canteens, Lamps & Two-piece Molds

During our Primitive Pottery workshop we take you through the process of finding, processing and tempering clay, and teach you the basics of hand-molding, as well as firing pots primitively, in a backyard campfire. During the two days of this workshop we take your pottery skills up to the next level, as you discover the secrets of how to make two-piece pottery, like canteens and oil lamps, larger pots of a gallon or more, as well as some new and unique methods of creating your own molded pieces.
Creating hollow pieces and putting together 2-piece molds that will stay together when fired requires special skills and techniques, and the results are just amazing! These advanced styles of pottery require drying time before firing, so Day 1 of this workshop (August 12) will be dedicated to molding and crafting your pieces, and Day 2 (September 16) to finish work and firing. Both days will be 9am - 6pm, and we will still be doing all of the firing in our backyard fire pit -- no kiln required. So if you're ready to move on from simple pots and bowls into more advanced, and just plain cool, ceramic work, join us for these great two days!

NOTE: This is not a beginner workshop. The basics of working with clay will not be covered. You must have previous experience working with fired ceramic to attend this workshop. If you are new to pottery, join our Primitive Pottery workshop to get started!

›› This workshop is not currently on the schedule, but we'll let you know the next time it's offered.‹‹


Harvesting Dogbane

Making & Using Natural Cordage from Plant & Animal Fibers

Whether you call it cordage, rope, string or twine, it's all made from something, but "from what?" is not a question that many people think to ask. More often than not the strongest, the finest, and the most utilitarian types of cordage can be made from some common plant or grass that is growing right nearby!
In this workshop you'll get out into the field and discover how to identify, harvest and process a variety of different cordage plants and materials. When it comes to making cordage we'll go much farther than just your basic reverse wrap. 3-ply cordage, thigh rolling, plaited loops, bowstrings and more will all be covered, along with cordage options from animal parts such as sinew and rawhide. Lastly, we'll go over how cordage materials can be used as clothing and you'll make your own fiber sandal to take home. You'll never look at that roll of string the same way again!

Student Comments:  Read what past students of this workshop have to say
Skill of the Month:  The June '08 issue of our monthly newsletter featured one of our most unexpectedly popular Skill of the Month features: The Plaited Loop.

›› This workshop is not currently on the schedule, but we'll let you know the next time it's offered.‹‹



Building with Grasses

Working with Grasses: The Undiscovered Resource

"Sedges have edges, Rushes are round, Grasses are hollow and grow all around."
One of the most under-used and least-understood of resources, grasses are abundant, easily renewable, and can be used for shelter, water, fire and food. (Not to mention clothing, furniture, shoes, beds and countless other items!) Learn how to make mats, shelters, water filters, flour, chairs, clothing and more — and techniques to make it all much easier!


›› This workshop is not currently on the schedule, but we'll let you know the next time it's offered.‹‹




NEW! Netting Basics: Making Net Bags, Fishing Nets, Hammocks & More

Fishing, hunting, sleeping... Throughout history nets have been an important part of almost every society on every continent; from fishing nets on the islands and along the coasts, to hunting nets used to capture small game in the deserts and on the plains or monkeys and birds in the trees, to hammock nets for sleeping off the ground in the jungle. Circular nets, weighted nets, square nets, nets with cords as thick as your wrist and nets that are 300 feet long; the ability to make and repair nets was a vital survival skill.
During this workshop you will learn the basic netting knots, how to make and use a net shuttle, how to use a spacer to ensure your net holes are consistent, two different netting styles, and how to keep your net "under control" as you make it. You will make your own small net, which you can either finish off that day, or take home with you to continue to enlarge. Join us to develop a new appreciation for this ancient skill!

›› This workshop is not currently on the schedule, but we'll let you know the next time it's offered.‹‹



Pitch Sticks

Natural Glues & Adhesives

Being able to stick things together became very important very quickly to our ancestors. Where would the atlatl dart or the arrow have been without the ability to properly haft a point onto the shaft and have it stay right where you put it?!
This workshop will focus on all things sticky; you will learn how to find, harvest process and store pitch, how to render down birch tar (our new favorite adhesive!), how to make and use hide glue, and more.
You'll also learn some suprising uses for these natural glues and adhesives, and what types of things they can be used for "in a pinch".


›› This workshop is not currently on the schedule, but we'll let you know the next time it's offered.‹‹



Scraping a hide


Hide Tanning

Buckskin is the original clothing of mankind and it is still one of the most comfortable and versitile materials available today, especially when moving through the woods. Breathable, less likely to snag on twigs and brush, buckskin is also one of the original types of camouflage clothing. During this workshop we will discuss both the wet- and dry-scrape methods of hide tanning, and the advantages and disadvantages of each. Then you will go through the entire wet-scrap hide tanning process step-by-step, from de-hairing, fleshing, graining and bucking, to the final smoking of the hide. After three full days of hard work you will leave with your very own section of freshly smoked, braintanned deer hide!
As you'll see, this traditional hide tanning method produces a beautiful and soft finished product that can be used to make a pouch, bag or other garment, or can be kept intact to show off to family and friends. An incredibly rewarding process that will make a beautiful final product!

›› This workshop is not currently on the schedule, but we'll let you know the next time it's offered.‹‹

Using the Whole AnimalUsing the Whole Animal

The most intense and extensive workshop we offer, this totally hands-on four days will take you through the full process of how to use an entire animal, including butchering, braintanning, drying meat, making sausage, jerky and soap, processing sinew, removing and using antlers and hooves, preparing and using bones, preparing and using internal organs, and much more.
Materials and supplies are included, and as always you can stay on-site for the duration of the workshop.

›› This workshop is not currently on the schedule, but we'll let you know the next time it's offered.‹‹


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