Bushcraft


Seba and I went camping! We went together to the midwintercamp in the veluwe. Mariana was not feeling well  and stayed home. Nothing is worse than feeling bad laying in a tent far away from toilet and other comforts. So it was father and son time.

The Midwintercamp is organised by Peter Qvist from Qvist Outdoor Cooking, there are activities organised by several other people. One of them is Jan Harm ter Brugge from hout van bomen who I’ve really wanted to meet for some time, but I never got around. Jan Harm is one of the few (actually I think the only one) that carves nice spoons in the Netherlands.

Seba and I arrived friday just after midday at the campsite. Papa had to go and put up the tent and Seba helped unpacking the car and put together the central pole. We stole the stove from Marianas atelier so we would stay warm and make a cup of coffee.

Seba decided that he wanted to go play and left me alone dealing with the tent.

Al the activities where on Saturday, they are mostly camping and food related. You could prepare a wild boar, pig roast, bake bread in a dutch oven, have some guided tours around the veluwe and carve spoons.Needless to say I carved spoons, while keeping a hungry eye on the food preparation. It was very good to see a spoon carver in action, my knowledge comes from books and the internet only and it is much more instructive to see things in vivo. When one is able to hold a spoon in your hands the proportions and relations of the handle and the cup are easier to see then on a picture.  And I had the chance to see some other tools from gransfors, djarv and karlson.

Seba made freinds and did the activity “getting dirty” in the woods. Followed by getting sand in your shoes and the filling up your hat with pine needles.

Here is the only picture of me, Seba took it. I had to cut off the ford KA on the side, it did not look wild enough. Also it would not work well when Seba is explaining to his sceptical mother that we “need” a “sjeep-auto”.

At night we ate wild boar, pig and deer. Obviously the food was too late, according to Seba who was very hungry.

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Some spoons I’ve been working on. They are all made of walnut wood. The cut-offs from the bowls.

 

I acquired a walnut tree trunk diameter 40 cm some time ago but I did not really have time to carve something from it yet. Past couple of days however I took myself some time to make some things. I really like Richard Law’s and Robin Woods carved bowls. So I made a horse more or less like this, but from wood that I had left from building the Atelier for Mariana so it is a bit chunky.

To try out how the walnut wood works I’ve made some spoons, at first they did not look too good but after a while I got the hang of it. Walnut is has a bit more fibre then the birch or alder that I usually use. When you start cutting into the bark you can smell the junglone. It smells a bit like hospital disinfectant.

The wood itself is white when it is wet and the core wood is dark grayish brown. You get purple oxidation marks on the wood when carving it wet. When the wood dries it gets darker brown. I haven’t oiled any of the spoons yet so I don’t know how that looks. They still need to dry a little.

Making the bowls themselves is pretty straightforward. I’ve hollowed them out with a little adze. Then using a 25mm gauge and finished it with the spoonknife.  For the outside I used the axe and then a pushknife, and finished with my carving knife.

I bought the pushknife online and it was called a drawknife but it never really worked for me. Somehow it didn’t bite into the wood like the second hand drawknifes I bought and repaired. But now I’ve discovered that it works very well as a pushknife and that is fine by me.

I still need to make the bowls and spoons smooth when the wood dried a bit. I probably use the spoonknife and an scrape iron to finish the inside.

The new horse works pretty well, should have made that I while ago. I was scared that after a couple of blows, I could pick everything up from the floor. But I’m surprised by the strength of the clamp from just two simple wedges.

I think the shape of the bowl is a bit boring, but one has to start somewhere. I’m going to make some more and bigger ones next week.



I wanted to enjoy the snow a bit before it is gone again, it is already thawing. Going to the woods in winter has its advantages, there is plenty clean drinking water, it is really easy to track animals and there is nobody else. The only disadvantage is that I need to take my old military sleeping bag. I am not a big fan of military gear, but nothing beats the low price of that sleeping bag. It keeps me warm but weighs a ton and takes up all the space in my backpack.

It was sunny and dry, but still cold enough for the snow to stay a little bit. I went to an aera called the Chaamse Bossen (Forest of Chaam). Located in those woods are 4 or 5 pole camp-sites (paalkamperen dutch link). At these sites you can stay for maximum 72 hours and there can only be 3 tents around a pole. There are no facilities except a water pump. This is the closest (legal) way you can get to camping in the wild.

I put up the tarp, made camp and collected firewood, which was all very wet. So making the fire was a bit harder then normally. But then I could melt snow and cook. At night I let it go off because it was to much hassle to keep it going with all that wet wood. There was some shooting going on in the evening, either early new year or the hunting season.

At night it froze a couple of degrees, there was some water on the tarp that froze. As usually I took my shoes off, my clother off, got comfortable in my sleeping bag, closed my eyes and discovered that I need to pee. During the night a mouse tried to get into my backpack to steal some food. I heard it and the saw it walking on top of my backpack.

Tracking was great, the tracks where easy to follow. I’ve found tracks of deer, roe deer, foxes and Martens. I saw a couple of deer and some roe deer. I didn’t take any pictures because I was to slow with changing lenses. I’ve been looking for a fox but they where all hiding too well.

This track I can’t Identify yet, wonder what happened here.

Lowtechmagazine always has very intresting content, and now they featured a link to 1.400 hand coloured glass lantern pictures. Taken by Walter McClintock from 1896 till 1912. Walter McClintock befriended a Blackfood guide during an expedition to photograph the national forests. When that commision was done he was introduced to the blackfeet indians by the Guide. Protected by the Blackfoot elder Mad Wolf McClinton made thousands picturesin 20 years.  Displayed is the life of the Blackfoot Native Americans in Montana.   

Walter McClintock thought, and sadly he was right, that the Native Americans where undergoing great changes. Changes so great that their culture and traditions might vanish. These pictures give us a rare look into the blackfoot community in the beginning of the 20th century. It maybe a  idealized look, alltough Walter says that the pictures are not posed. Critics say “McClintock’s cameras selectively scanned the Montana landscape to create a window into Blackfeet life as he imagined it to have existed during the nineteenth century. He shows these people as they might have appeared during a romantic heyday, when buffalo were plentiful and young men earned names for themselves while battling tribal enemies.”

However McClintock’s photographs, biased or not, are very impressive. The last picture is McClintock himself. 

James May, yes the one from top gear writes some good stuff now and then;

James May’s lost man skills

We may be dab hands at whipping up a cheese soufflé, but our tools lie unloved, gathering dust at the end of the garden. It’s time for men to get practical and create a new DIY boom Read More

Also worth a visit is the “Compendium of Useful Information” sometimes a bit apocalyptic, but most information is useful.

Then I came across this video from TED, where Richard Preston is talking about the ecosystem in giant Redwood trees.

Finally finished,

I got a little bit sidetracked, the weather turned nice and I could continue with both the garden and constructing my wife’s atelier (more about that in an upcoming post).

I’ve let the wood dry out slowly, just by leaving it standing around. When dry, I used my carving knife and with little cuts I smoothed the surface. On the inside I did the same with a spoon knife.

Then I put linseed oil to seal the surface, I’ll have to let the linseed oil dry over a couple of weeks before I can use it. Linseed oil polymerises and makes the surface stronger, impermeable and more beautiful. Linseed oil is food safe but has a particular odour that will take a while before it is gone. The first couple of coffees are going to be really ugly…

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