Earthwork Wilderness Survival Training School | 413-340-1161

Nature’s Gifts

Greetings!

The holiday times are upon us. You could go out and buy all kinds of decorations for your Christmas tree or your windows, or cards for friends and family. But let’s look at another perspective…how about creating your own decorations using materials from the natural world?

Our ancestors constantly used different fibers of different plants for textiles, making baskets, creating mats out of cattail, art and sculptures too.  Living in a time where people buy everything, there seems to be a disconnect to the natural world.

How did this picture frame actually get here?

Well, first you need the natural materials—who knows if they were harvested in a respectful manner and that other trees were thinned to create habitat for small herbaceous plants and animals and insect growth too? Then it needs to be shipped to a factory where it is to be manufactured; then once it’s manufactured, it gets packaged. Then after the packaging happens, it gets put on a truck…then there’s all the resources used to ship it whether by plane, train or tractor-trailer vehicle from overseas. Notice how many things are from China. These are all a tremendous amount of resources to use when you can easily learn how to make things on your own from nature.

The alternative…
First begin with intent; then decide what your goal is—what would you like to create and for whom (i.e., your mother or father or perhaps grandparents or friends)?  When you figure out for whom, then create something for them; imagine what they would like. You can make a necklace with homemade beads that you can carve. You can make a wreath using our abundant Eastern Hemlocks. You can make bracelets. You can make a little basket. You can even make a spinning top with an acorn, and dolls or action figures from cattail and sedge. You can make cards too. There are so many options.

What do you think about when you want to create?

Think about where you are most likely to find an abundant source of material; it could be a wetland, deep forest, in a field close by. Then research and learn how the native people or pioneers or current crafts people process these resources.

When you create something with your own hands and your heart and intent behind it, it has so much more value than perhaps buying something that doesn’t have a personal connection. There is so much happening in the wilderness during this time even though the leaves are dropped and it looks bare.  There are so many gifts out there that nature offers. You can also go out with friends and enjoy the “process” which helps to build relationships with each other as well as with your surroundings.

The other option is going to the store and waiting in lines to buy things, spending your money and your time in an area that’s very loud and not as intimate.

So life is about “choice.” May you give yourself the gift of creating your own gifts this season.
Blessings,
Frank

Primitive Skills in Maine

I love Maine; I have been visiting for many years. This fall, I had the opportunity to spend some time with some of my extended family up there. The Maine Primitive Gathering is where people come from all over to practice and learn with each other. There is so much to go over even though it is a weekend event, but I wanted to share what has been a focus for me in Maine for the last 2 years working with an amazing basket maker Mark Young.
Stay tuned for the video…

had the opportunity to mentor with and capture some incredible video at the 2009 Maine Primitive Gathering in Wells ME hosted by Mal Stephens.

Mark demonstrates and gives insight into a traditional skill that has been practiced for many years.

In this video, hear Mark’s philosophy of the baskets he makes, see pieces of this process…from pounding so the growth rings lift, to making and shaping splints, and learn how water is your best friend. Also hear the questions folks have about the how-to and the story that shaped a bow maker into a basket maker.

The baskets you see here and others may be available through Mark Young directly (while supplies last). Order your basket and support our basket makers and mentors who share this knowledge today.
*  Mark Young
* 207-646-1096
* mark@blackashpackbasket.com

Black Ash Pack Basket – Maine Basket Maker
Made in Maine by Mark Young