Just a few pictures

George is doing such a fantastic job with his informative posts while I am looking after Kelly, but I thought I would just put up a few pictures from the last week.

Here’s me preparing to go into the operating theatre when Kelly was born.

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Here are my favourite three girls

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This Kelly at home sleeping

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Kelly’s first bad hair day!!

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We needed a large, light container to weigh Kelly in, so one of my Birch bark containers was perfect.

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Here’s Emma feeding her little sister (Kelly needs supplementary feeding just now to help maintain her right weight)

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Emma changing Kelly’s nappy

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I have a Dreamdot baby carrier, so that I can carry Kelly around while doing other things.

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Of course Emma does the same with her baby!

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Birch bark container tutorial

I was hoping to get out and about this weekend and do some stuff for the blog, but Teres was taken into hospital on Thursday and now I have bronchitis.  So I have made a tutorial for making Birch bark containers.

I begin by cutting out two identical wooden disks to use as the top and bottom of the container and then role the bark around and mark and cut out a piece of bark.  This particular piece measured 30cm x 9cm.  On the outside of one end of the bark I thin the bark down to a wedge shape and I do the same on the inside of the bark at the other end.

Then I make to lines of holes in each end, about 5mm between each hole.

Form a tube with the bark, making sure the end thinned down on e inside sits over the end thinned down on the outside.  I use a clip to hold the two ends together and then use sinew, false sinew or dental floss to begin sewing the bark together.

Now draw a line around the side of each wooden disk (use your finger as a depth gauge)

Then draw a line around the underside of each disk

Use a knife or sandpaper to remove the wood between these two lines to give an angled edge.   This makes it much easier to insert the top and bottom disks into the bark tube.

You may find that one of the disks is a little too small and does not fit tightly into the bark tube.  In this case you can take a thin layer of Birch bark and glue around the edge of the disk (use an elastic band to hold the bark in place while the glue dries).

Use a knife or sandpaper to remove excess bark and it should look like this when completed

Put some glue around the edge of the bottom disk and push into the bark tube and then push in the top.  To help strengthen the top and bottom, cut two strips of bark (I use a pair of serrated scissors that I bought from a Dollar Store to give a decorative edge, but I have also done this using a knife) and glue around the top and bottom.

Drill two holes in the top and thread a piece of leather through and tie a knot on the inside of the lid.

Now the container is completed.

Items I have made recently.

We have a lot more snow now and another 20cms is forecast to come tomorrow.

I haven’t been out and about much recently, but I have been busy making items to sell at a Christmas market this weekend.

I have used pig intestine to stitch the birch bark containers. I wrote about processing pig intestine here.

I am using the mystery braid a lot now in the leather armbands I make

40 Today!!

Today is my 40th birthday so what better way to spend the weekend than at my cabin, collecting Birch bark .

Some of the bark was impossible to remove but some separated from the tree as you cut into it

I took the bark back to the cabin.  Some I will store, but some I wanted to work with while it is fresh and flexible

I made a large folded container

I used a narrow strip of Birch bark folded in half as a rim and removed bark from a Willow sapling

and used to stitch the rim in place

The container holds about 5 litres of water

15th & 16th May 2010

Yesterday morning I visited the bird tower near Porjus again, where I met some of the local bird watchers.  There had been a heavy thunderstorm the night before and with the temperature at 10am already 16 degrees, there was a thick mist over the river.

It was clear that there was already a greater diversity of birds than when I had been there just over a week ago.  As the mist cleared I could see Bean Geese, Whooper Swans, Cranes, many Spotted Redshanks, Green and Redshanks, 2 Bar-tailed Godwit, Wigeon, Teal, Pintail, Goldeneye, 3 Little Gulls, Many Willow Warblers singing, Whinchat singing, Lapland Bunting, Yellow Wagtail, 1 Cuckoo, 7 Wheatears along the railway line and an Osprey hunting over the river.

At the tower there there is the added bonus of a grill place where you can cook coffee and (yes you’ve guest it Rick) grill sausage

When I got home in the evening there was a Woodcock displaying over the flat.

Today has been 20 degrees and we have been out to the forest.

I devised a simple game as Emma was bored.  I cut a Birch sapling in half so that the piece rooted in the ground was about 0ne and a half metres high.  I split the end of the wood and set a Birch bark cup into the split.

The cups purpose was to hold a pine cone.

Emma pulled back the sapling and when released, the cone would be propelled (in this case up to 10 metres).

I set up a snow shovel as a target to hit with the cones

Kiruna Saami museum

There are very good cultural museums in Jokkmokk and Gallivare, but I was unaware of a Saami museum in Kiruna until I visited Kiruna for a day with Adrian last week.  The museum is away from the city centre and is called Samegarden and I promised that I would promote the museum here for anyone visiting Kiruna.  You can learn much about the Saami traditions and clothing

the different designs of clothes for each Saami community

Here is an old Saami man in his winter clothing made from Reindeer skins

This man is depicted using a traditional frame drum

I was pulling a modern pulk to the cabin but here is the traditional one pulled by Reindeer

A view inside a traditional Saami dwelling (so many people lived in such a small space)

and of course there are many examples of traditional crafts such as knives and carvings but also hunting items such as these rolled Birch bark floats for fishing nets

and these bark pouches with a stone inside to weight the nets at the bottom

It costs 20 SEK to visit and is well worth the price and there is information available in English about the displays.

Scraping dead wood to make fire

We are all familiar with the method of scraping the surface of Birch bark  and igniting the scrapings with a firesteel due to the high content of natural oils in the bark.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

more about “Pictures by sufguy1 – Photobucket“, posted with vodpod
but you can use this scraping method on most dead woods to achieve either a flame or and ember (depending on the type of wood and/or weather conditions).
For this demonstration I used a dead Ash tree and light rain was falling.  I found a fallen tree, where the bark had gone leaving exposed and weathered dead wood.  I scraped the surface of the wood with my knife (discarding the wet outer material and scraping the drier inner material into a pile)
Each time you use the firesteel you are creating heat which helps to remove moisture from the scrapings and after using the firesteel five times the material began to smoke
On a dry day I am confident I would have achieved a flame but today had to make do with an ember
This ember can be treated exactly the same as a friction-fire ember and blown to flame using a nest of dry material.

Spring in Lapland – 30th May

Sunny today, with a maximum temperature of 17 degrees.

1 Blue Tit around the cabin this morning, 2 Black-throated Divers on the lake, an Osprey flying around over the lake, 2 Hooded Crows flew over, 1 male Reed Bunting and 1 Common Lizard.

4 Perch in the fish trap this morning.

I washed my clothes this morning and then completed all the painting I wanted to do. I spent the rest of the day making items with the Birch bark.

I cut some of the bark into thin strips

I weaved the strips together to make a reasonable sized basket

I also made a large container, carved another cup

With the remaining pieces of bark, I made a sheath for my knife.

Spring in Lapland – 20th May

Vodpod videos no longer available.

A pair of Pied Flycatchers had appeared over-night and the male was singing from a nearby Black Spruce and they were soon busy collecting nest material and building in one of the many bird boxes available to them. Other birds singing around the cabin this morning were Chaffinch and Brambling, Redstarts and Song Thrush, Whimbrel displaying overhead and 2 Common Cranes calling from the marsh. A small area of open water close to cabin was also drawing in various duck species; Goldeneye, Mallard, Teal and Smew.

After breakfast I decided to walk to the marsh again where there were over 50 Ruff & Reeve, Several Wood Sandpipers, Spotted Redshank, Raven and Mistle Thrush and Great Tit singing in the trees. Then I walked into the forest behind the cabin but it was incredibly quiet and very difficult walking in the deep snow.

After returning I continued to clear snow


Then I made a trap to try and catch an Arctic Hare , who’s tracks I have seen around the cabin. I bent over a Birch tree and set up a trigger system

with two snares attached to catch the hares feet.

I hoped that an apple core would be irresistible as bait and when it touched the apple core, the branch I had attached it to would trigger the trap (the snares of course were covered by a layer of snow). Unfortunately I never did manage to catch it!

Later in the evening I went for another walk and attempted to collect some Birch bark, but it was incredibly difficult to remove so I guess it was just a bit to early.

A couple more pictures from the Bodgers Ball

Here is one of the most beautiful Birch bark containers that I have ever seen. Birch bark has even been used to stitch it together.

Unfortunately I never did find out who had made it or where the Birch bark had been sourced from.

Here Dave Watson from Woodland Survival Crafts is demonstrating making fire using a pole-lathe as an adaptation of the friction firelighting method.