Saturday, 29 November 2014

More decorated spoons

Milk paint has gotten a hold of me. Nothings safe now!

I chip carved some more spoons recently, so I added a splash of paint and oil to jazz them up a little.
I only used a frosts 106 carving knife for all the carving and decoration work. They work so well. I have a chip carving knife I made from an old penknife but I just go with the frosts as it so easy.

Most are Sami inspired with a few doodles from looking at things that were lying around the room at the time.

Latest carved bowls

Back into bowl carving at the mo, and these below are to help the students on next years courses understand them a little better.

First up is an up-swept Oak bowl. This was hard work on the hands and tools, but I'm so glad I finished it. I love the grain and colour.

Next is a flat topped Birch bowl, painted with homemade milk paint containing Ochre pigments.

I also finished it with some homemade wax (beeswax and linseed oil blend)

Then I decided to go down the figure carving route, my first foray into this addictive world!
This is supposed to be a Moorhen :) and its made from Birch again with milk paint. These chaps, the Coots and Dapchicks were constantly swimming past during  the last spoon demonstration, so I went with one of these instead of the other ducks.

Makers mark on the bowl bottoms

I'm really pleased with these and its inspired me to make many more. 
I hope the students next year feel the same.

End of season event rush

Its been a busy last few months with demonstrations and short courses. Things are calming down a little now which means its carving time! More on that in the next blog entry.

In September I was asked to step in last minute for the folks at the Basecamp festival in Derbyshire, on an excellent site. The folks there organising and visiting the weekends festival were a very welcoming bunch and Myself and Chad had a wonderful time teaching firelighting.

Up next was the annual Bushcraft day at Elvaston Castle Country Park. A day rammed with as much bushcraft as possible. Next year this will be an overnight course too, allowing the students a chance to sleep in their shelters.

Then we had another regular event, The Woodland Festival held at the same site. This well established event is one of the best for watching and taking part in traditional woodland crafts, with the top craftspeople in the UK. I really enjoy this one!

and the last two events were an Autumn forage in October for wild food and other materials needed for living in the woods, followed in early November by another weekend spoon carving demonstration along a canal side workshop open day.

Oh, and My Daughter and I had a wild camp out in a very nice woodland just before it turned cold and wet. Loads of Owls hooting and foxes barking through the night. We also saw the Badgers scuffling about near camp.

All in all a very enjoyable end to the main season. I've concentrated on carving again recently in preparation for some new courses coming up soon. Keep an eye out on the main website and on here as I eventually update things. Once that's sorted, its back to more studying of wild food and tracking as they are endless subjects to learn about.

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Hunter Gatherer challenge - Part Three

Bow hunting day! Will it work?

Dinner time! :)
That hinge stayed like that all the way through the session but snapped on the next shot after this picture, but the bow delivered 12 fast arrows with a few hitting Bambi. 
The bow felt around 30lbs draw weight and took about two hours easy work to make. Im going to improve the design so it wont break next time.. Ive a lot of work to do on archery skills to become anyway near good at 20 yards.

My water routine. Millbank bag, followed by boiling. Simple and effective.

After the excitement of the archery, I settled down to another stew and made a quick spoon while it cooked, using a piece of Hazel cut from the fire reflector. Burnt out the bowl with embers and hot air. Well there was no one else to talk to!

Spoonage. Half cooking half eating. As with all bushcraft kit, a jack of all trades.

I then made a few digging sticks and a walking stick for my ever increasing collection. I had an area for these, and it was like a coat rack, stick/hat stand in a house and it made the place feel like home. I have to say I was ready to go further afield by now. I got them hardened off in the fire and went out for a four hour solo foraging walk all the time getting a little higher as I munched my way through  most of Wiltshire's last crop of blackberries. Bevis would of been proud of my great cornholio impression around an hour later.

Pretty things stand out after a while in the woods

Fir needles for tea. They smelt amazing. My scenes and myself were really in the zone now. I was very happy and enjoying the experience very much. 

After finally finding a Beech tree in full mast and grabbing a pocket full, I finally found the site of my goal. A rare beast to track down and a good walk away, the Burdock. Check it out, the root was huge, and full of Carbohydrate. Shouting "Panama, TP and bunghole" loudly as I dug tripping on natural sugurs, I soon had the sucker out of the ground.

Then it rained like stair rods for 45 minutes, again, but I was rewarded with this on the way back to camp. To say I was cheerful was an understatement. There was the thought of a ful belly to look forward to after a top day.

This evening sir, we have sliced oak smoked cured venison haunch, with fresh nettle tops, sliced burdock root, in an elderberry sauce.

I dribbled a bit at this stage

While it was cooking I had an ember roasted nut starter helped down with some hawthorn berries (pips removed of course)
I ended up roasting some of the burdock on the embers, which sweetened them greatly. I was almost in Parsnip territory here. 

Early the following morning I went for a walk, and watched this chap go down...

...and this one pop up. 

I walked out with my buddies after dismantling the shelter and putting out the fire, back to the main camp area to join the others for tea and medals. What a most excellent adventure!

Hunter gatherer challenge. Part Two

The next day i worked flat out as the sun had popped out for a bit, giving an opportunity to get everything finished off. I had more thatching to do to the shelter, more bedding to collect, a fire reflector to build, firewood and kindling for another long night, and attempt to preserve and start to cook up the venison meat.

I just about managed to pull this off before having another real low. Energy was gone by late afternoon, but I had managed to get a stew on of meat and nettles, and started to get more water filtered, boiled, cooled and into me. A quick 30 min break, the first all day, followed by food and a nettle brew and I had my epiphany moment. 
I realised I had done it, all the hard work was done. All I had to do now was enjoy the routine as I normally would do on trips that normally involve energy giving noodles, bread, potatos, coffee and chocolate (Oh how I missed this wonderful substance!) only I had to find my food, and water. Something I like to do anyway. Also there was a major craft project to complete with a deadline. I wanted to make up for the bowdrill, so I went balls out for the next 2 and a half days only stopping to sleep.

As I went about my water runs to the bottom of the hill and back, and mooching about locally I improved my wild teas, greens other than nettles such as Plantains and Dandelions,  started to gather roots from Thistles & Silverweed. I gathered hazel and beech nuts for a fatty protein boost. My mood improved by the hour. I even gathered a good load of Ribwort plantain seed heads. Dried them out, winnowed, cooked and ground the seeds into a flour. Then made a nice fatty biscuit. I was ticking off projects on a list, moral was improving. Things were looking up. Small achievements meant a lot.

Raw state of plantain seed

Dryed and separated from husk

Ground into flour using the bowdrill hearth board. It had a use after all :)

It took a long time to make though, but it was packed with energy and more digestible than in a raw state.

Ground Ivy for Tea

Thistle. A fibrous chap the thistle be

More firewood, and tinkering with the shelter continued and I started to get the bits together for the bow and arrows.
I decided on a bundle bow, and to try and make two arrows with knapped flint heads, bound with natural products. I was lucky on the first night as I found a kill site of a pigeon ( by a bird of prey I think) so grabbed the feathers and squirrelled them away for fletchings. 

I found this old glass bottle side, quite flat too. So went with that as its much easier than flint and I'm only a novice knapper.

Knocked these chaps out during the long night by the fire of night three. Hazel shafts were prepared, dryed, straightened, and hardened over the fire. The heads were attached by the backstrap sinue from venison loin. Shrunk into place by the heat of the fire like rawhide on a cowboys forehead. Wouldn't that be a way to go (said in a mountain man Jake type voice ;) )

Nettle fibres for the fluffy end

Working on the bow the following morning

Da da!