W68: You Can’t Contain Me!

This week I attended the totally awesome Echoes in Time primitive/pioneer skills gathering just outside of Salem, OR at Willamette Mission State Park. Thanks Dale, Goode and Leland for putting on this gathering!

My pals Estabon and Zach taught a primitive pottery class that Penny and I took. I’ve taken a few classes from Esteban in the past. We had him teach at the Preemptive Post-Apocalyptic Camp I ran a few years back, but all of our pots exploded during the firing process. We still don’t know why, but I thought I’d give it another try. To my excitement all three of the pots I made survived! Unfortunately for Penny, her big bum jug didn’t. Sorry honey! Thanks Estabon and Zach!

This really great guy named Rob taught me and Penny how to make twining willow baskets. I especially appreciated the way he wove (pardon the pun) animism into the class, reminding us that we weave our state of mind into the basket so we need to make sure we feel present and calm while making it. He had to remind me to slow down as I came near to finishing the basket. Thanks Rob!

A nice woman named Carol showed my how to make a coil basket using only primitive tools which I really enjoyed. Not to mention her story-telling antics. As people trickled in to her class I must have heard her shtick a half dozen times. We joked about me teaching the class next time. I remember Carol offering obsidian hair cuts at Rabbitstick Rendezvous, but I didn’t take up the offer. I asked her if she still did those and she said that the obsidian ends up dulling very quickly and pulling on the hair. She said primitive peoples would actually just burn their hair off. She said nobody wants her to do that because of the smell. I almost asked her to try it with me, but I held back. Maybe next year… Thanks Carol!

I made a gourd canteen. It took about an hour. I chose an awkward piece and had to really work at getting the seed pod broken up to pull it out through the “neck” of the canteen. I want to paint it like a goose, so in order to keep the shape I had to work a little harder. I can’t remember the gentlemans name who brought all the gourds and taught the class… Thanks Gourd Guy!

Penny made some cool beaded earrings, also with Carol. She picked colors that matched her purple thunderstorm & wolf dress. Towards the end I took over beading for her. It can feel pretty monotonous and boring and since I really wanted to see her with the earrings on with the dress, I finished them off while she rested. She called me a fashionista when I coerced her into changing in to the outfit. Thanks again Carol!

A giant Cottonwood tree lives at Willamette Mission State Park. Penny forced me to leave the camp to go on a walk to see this ancient tree and I feel glad she did.

So I’ve done what I considered primitive skills for years, but now I call rewilding since I realized that most people didn’t consider what I do as primitive skills. I’ve decided that this year I will really dive into the culture and craft of “primitive skills.” Buckskin and stone knives form the first things that come to mind when I think of primitive, hand-made technology. Since I already have buckskin short-shorts I headed for the knapping pit for a large portion of the week. On the first day I saw a man named Terry selling little obsidian blades with a deer toe bone for a handle, and well, I fell in love. With the knife, not the man. I had some toe bones with me so all I had to do was take a stab (sorry for the pun) at making an obsidian knife. A really great guy named Kit helped me with a few points until I felt satisfied with my pressure flaking skills enough to make a blade for the knife. Than I went to Terry who helped me haft the blade onto the bone (using his drill and some epoxy! ;-p ) I put some pine-pitch/charcoal glue around the base to give it the authentic look. I could have just used the pine-pitch glue, but what the hell. I messed around a little bit after than in the knapping pit with some glass bottle bottoms and bought a basic knapping kit from Kit. Thanks Kit and Terry!

Overall I had a kick ass week. Thanks all for teaching mad skillz.

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5 Comments on “W68: You Can’t Contain Me!”

  1. Congrats Scout & Penny Scout!

    Pots, willow baskets, gourd canteen, beeded earings, humungous Cottonwood, an obsidian knife: simply wonderful!

    Sounds like a happy time was enjoyed by all 🙂

  2. Your tone is upbeat here, UrbSco, and I can see why! These are great skills to have added to your already vast collection of skills.
    Good to hear your plans for the next year, too.

    Must say, Penny looks gorgeous! Hi Penny!

    I hope to learn the willow basket weave from you some time.


  3. hey Scout I sure enjoyed meeting you this week at Echoes and weaving with you under the umbrella at Carol’s site… I appreciate you sharing so openly with me your thoughts and answering my many questions about your journey in life….thanks for this great write up about the event! see you on the trail…