Jokkmokks Marknad 2012 part 1

Last week I spent two days at Jokkmokks Marknad as part of my job as a wilderness guide at Solberget Vildmarks Byn.

My first day at the marknad was on Tuesday at the old, traditional market where I was fortunate enough to spend quite a bit of time with John Stokke, a Sámi reindeer herder who has his own chapter in the Sámi book of fire “Eld, Flammor och Glod – samisk eldkonst”.  The chapter is about the “Nuorssjo” and it was this fire that he was demonstrating at the market (he is in the centre of this picture).

Photographs by Mike Lenzner

The Nuorssjo is a fire used for two people to sleep next and will burn for 14 hours with very little maintenance.  20cms of Spruce branches are put on the ground as insulation to lay on.

In addition to translating his life as a reindeer herder for our German guests, I also spent a lot of time discussing fire making with him. He even cooked coffee  for our guests to drink.

He wanted me to return the next day to talk more and show him how to make fire with the bow-drill but unfortunately this was just not possible, but I have promised to do it next year.

Fire making with flint and steel was also being demonstrated, and visitors were able to try for themselves.

Some snow and a wooden container

On Wednesday we had the first snow fall of the winter here in Nattavaara By.  The snow is only a couple of centimetres deep but it is better than nothing.  As you can see in the picture below (taken a midday yesterday) the sun is only just appearing above the horizon now, for about 1 hour.  Next week it will disappear completely for about 4 weeks.

Last week I wrote about a wooden container that my friend had made for and now I had had a go at making one myself, using some scrap pieces of wood I had lying around in my workshop.  Both the top and bottom are root bur from Sallow.

I made the top by glueing two pieces of wood together, one slightly smaller to fit inside the pot

I stitched the side together with sinew, but unfortunately as you can see below the side has split when it dried.

I am working on more containers with different designs and will put up the pictures when I have finished.

I already have some shops up here that will sell my Natural Lore Fire Sets, but interestingly they prefer the plastic container because it is easier for people to carry in their pocket.

 

Natural Lore Flint & Steel Set

I had been wondering what to write about, but then my friend Håkan made me this as a gift

It is a traditional snuff or tinder container,

made from Birch bur, thin strips of Pine and sewed with Birch root and he has set Reindeer horn into the top.

Inside he had put a Bic lighter as a joke and I will explain why…

I have started selling Natural Lore Fire Sets here in Lapland and I am using old PLASTIC snuff containers (people here throw thousands away every year and I thought I would recycle some) but Håkan thinks I should make something like the container he has made to contain the fire sets.

The fire set includes a specially made fire steel, with a piece of flint, some True Tinder Fungus

and some Hemp string in the top compartment

I am going to make a container like Håkan’s (without Reindeer horn in the top) to see how long it takes me to make one.  Maybe I can use them as a more expensive version of the Natural Lore Fire Set……we shall see.

Primitive Bone Knife

During the summer I completed the Woodcraft School Primitive Technology course.

The course required that at least one our craft items had to be made using only primitive tools and techniques.

I decided to make myself a bone knife and a bark sheath for it. The knife I made from a Lamb’s thigh bone and the sheath was made from Sweet Chestnut (Castanea sativa) inner bark.

Bone utility knife & Sheath

Bone utility knife & Sheath

I wanted to be able to use the knife as an Awl for working hides, as a Bodkin for when weaving and as a general knife for cutting cordage and meat.

This post will concentrate on how the knife was made. The next post will be about the sheath.

The bone I used was a thigh bone known as the Shank. Hence the names ‘Lamb Shank’ as a cut of meat and the word ‘Shank’ as a primitive knife.

Fresh Bone & Flint

Fresh Bone & Flint

As I was using primitive tools and techniques only I scraped all the fat and flesh off with a piece of flint.

Other students tried burning the fat and flesh off but the made the bone brittle so it easily shattered. It is slippery work that requires a lot of patience. One slip and the flint will cut you as cleanly as any sharp knife.

Slippery work

Slippery work

After an hours work I had the bone cleaned up.

Ready for carving

Ready for carving

I decided that one knuckle would make a good handle but the other had to be removed.

I scored a line around the whole bone near the knuckle I wanted removed. Apologies for the slightly out of focus picture. The score line was about a couple of millimetres deep.

Removing a knuckle

Removing a knuckle

After scoring the line John Ryder (course instructor) showed me how to scorch the line to make it a little brittle in that area.

Scorching the bone

Scorching the bone

A close up.

Scorch line

Scorch line

Once the line was scorched all the way around a little gentle tapping was all that was needed.

A gentle tapping

A gentle tapping

A crack soon appeared.

Cracked bone

Cracked bone

To finally remove the knuckle I carried on scraping with the flint.

Removed knuckle

Removed knuckle

Once the knuckle was removed then I decided on the shape of my knife point. I did this by gently scraping with the flint on the bone to define my knife shape.

Flint score lines

Flint score lines

Then making sure that the bone was on a stable surface and held in a secure grip the tedious scraping began. The carving out of the knife shape took a number of hours.

Making the groove

Making the groove

The awl tip taking shape.

Awl tip

Awl tip

Eventually I was able to prise a section of bone out.

Removal of bone

Removal of bone

I went through two pieces of flint carving the bone out.

Eventually the general shape of the knife was produced.

Basic shape - front

Basic shape - front

And the other side.

Basic shape - back

Basic shape - back

A messy but necessary job is to remove the remaining marrow. I just used a small stick for this.

Removing the marrow

Removing the marrow

To give the knife a basic edge I used a piece of sandstone.

Sanding the edge

Sanding the edge

Any rough edges I tidied up with flint.

Final touches with flint

Final touches with flint

Below you can see the side profile of the knife. This curve is useful as a Bodkin in basket weaving. In the next post you will see that this was the knifes first job.

Side profile - Bodkin

Side profile - Bodkin

Here the knife is sitting on the inner bark I used to make the sheath out of.

Ready for its sheath

Ready for its sheath

More on that next time.

George

Lapland Spring 2009 – 22nd May

Rowed to the far end of the lake first thing this morning and went walking in the forest, but very quickly it clouded over and really heavy rain fell.  I was soaked by the time I got back to the cabin and it’s times like that when I really appreciate have the cabin and a warm fire to go back to.

I collected the rain water from the roof of the cabin for drinking and cooking

collecting rain water (Medium)

While it was raining I carved some hooks from pieces of Pine

coat hooks (Large)

to nail up around the cabin to hang things from.

coat hooks on wall (Large)

After the rain stopped I decided to go into the forest to begin cutting small Pine trees for poles to make a traditional style tipi or kåta.  I was careful in my selection, taking a tree where two were very close together and only one would survive, or trees that did not look so healthy.

Pine poles (Small)

Once I had cut down a tree, I removed all the branches with my axe

sneding tipi poles (Small)

To remove the bark I drove the tip of a knife into a wooden batten to make a simple draw knife

peeling poles (Small)

I tried eating the inner bark which was surprisingly tasty and quite sweet.

I was having lunch and some coffee at my cabin when I heard the voices of children in the forest

me at cabin (Medium)

It was the grandchildren of my friends Anki and Ingvar who were coming to visit me.  The children are taught survival skills in school in Sweden and they were keen to learn new skills from me.  Particularly making fire without matches.

I began by demonstrating the bow-drill to them and then we headed into the forest to collect different tinders for them to experiment with using firesteels.

seb making fire (Small)

We also experimented with flint and steel to make fire with True Tinder fungus

Rasmus making fire (Small)

The boys were also keen to teach me things as well.  Here they are explaining how to navigate in the forest using Wood Ant nests

boys showing ants nest (Small)

and here Simon is demonstrating how to eat the ants without being bitten.

Simon eating Wood ant (Small)

They were actually quite pleasant to eat.

We spent the evening fishing though no one caught anything.

Simon fishing (Medium)

New birds; Redstart, Song Thrush, Mallard, Teal, Whimbrel, Capercaillie and two groups of Black Grouse lekking on the edge of the marsh.

Primitive skills weekend – Part 2

After lunch there were more workshops including cordage making

Prim skills-18 (Medium)

and by mid afternoon we were preparing food for our evening meal.  On both days the main meal was cooked in a pit.  A pit had already been dug and into this we made a fire.

Prim skills-19 (Small)

Once there was a good bed of embers a layer of wet hay was put over the embers (on Sunday Nick cut a large amount of Stinging Nettles which were used instead) and the meat, having been wrapped in hay was then placed in the pit (we had Roe and Muntjac deer and some Wild Boar)

Prim skills-20 (Medium)

Another layer of wet hay/Stinging Nettles were then added and finally another fire was made on top

Prim skills-21 (Small)

The pit was then left for four hours.

A piece of lean meat from the Roe Deer was held back, sliced into thin strips and hung by the fire to make jerky.

Prim skills-22 (Small)

After 14 hours by the fire with the smoke keeping insects away, it had dried just right as venison jerky.

Prim skills-25 (Medium)

As dusk approached the meat was removed from the pit

Prim skills-23 (Medium)

Everyone enjoyed the evening meal and afterwards there was a primitive fancy dress competition

Prim skills-24 (Small)

and the rest of the evening was spent eating more and drinking some very strange concoctions.

On Sunday morning after breakfast there were more activities and I ran a bow-drill and wet tinder workshop for a small group.

Prim skills-26 (Medium)

Hannah from Natural Pathways was keen to try the wet tinder oven.

Prim skills-27 (Small)

I spent a lot of time chatting with Hannah and her assistant instructors Lief and Sal.  I would highly recommend there survival and nature awareness courses held in Kent.

By early afternoon people were starting to leave and after the final workshop I also headed home

Primitive skills weekend – Part 1

Last weekend I attended a primitive skills weekend run by Will Lord and John Lord + some of their friends.  Here are John and Will exchanging tips on the hand-drill

Prim skills-16 (Small)

I arrived early on Friday afternoon as food was being prepared for an evening meal

Prim skills-2 (Small)

Once this rabbit had been gutted and skinned we made up a rack to suspend it over the fire to cook (we cooked Pike in the same way).

Prim skills-3 (Small)

People continued to arrive throughout the evening

Prim skills-1 (Small)

I had set up my parachute as a tipi for my shelter for the weekend and it was great to be able to lay in bed on Saturday morning testing out my new trangia stove to make coffee and fried breakfast.

Prim skills-5 (Medium)

I fried salami, mushrooms and spring onions on bannock bread and I must say that the stove performed extremely well.

Prim skills-6 (Medium)

The day started with some of us attempting to produce a coal with the hand-drill……unsuccessfully I might add!

Prim skills-7 (Small)

Will lead the primitive theme for the weekend by dressing in his buckskin and leather clothing (including a really nice pair of Red Deer skin boots he had made)

Prim skills-8 (Medium)

After a chat and a brief about activities for the day around the campfire

Prim skills-4 (Small)

some people started scraping deer skins ready for tanning.

Prim skills-12 (Medium)

As brains were being used for tanning the hides, they needed to be mashed up before they could be applied

Prim skills-13 (Medium)

Nick (a deer manager and stalker by trade) gave a demonstration on skinning a Roe deer with flint tools

Prim skills-10 (Medium)

and also butchering it with flint tools

Prim skills-17 (Small)

and John was running a flintknapping workshop on making flint tools

Prim skills-9 (Medium)

For lunch we experimented with cooking shell fish on a burning log with a few embers on the top

Prim skills-14 (Small)

which worked really well

Prim skills-15 (Medium)