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Autumn 2009


Just finished making these baskets...They are made from Blackberry Brambles. The one without a handle is a fishing creel which is used to put your fish in once you have caught them, I still need to fit the shoulder strap on this one. The other two would be good for foraging berries and fungi etc.

I think brambles are a fantastic basketry material, I feel they are better than Willow in some ways.

To collect the brambles I wear leather gloves and hold a scrap of thick canvas in one hand. I find a suitable thin and long bramble, which I have found like to grow in the light areas of woodland. I take the growing tip of the bramble and fold the canvas around it, whilst grasping the canvas I run it down to the length of the bramble to strip all leaves and thorns. The process is very easy... last time I collected brambles I gathered about 140 runners in one go. But you do need quite a lot of material to make a single basket. I hold the canvas around the bramble so that it does not wear out my leather gloves.

I then leave my harvested Brambles to dry which only takes about 1 week. Although I got rid of all the thorn tips during the gathering process they are still very rough and so I run each bramble through a piece of sandpaper which makes them really smooth. Before I weave them I soak them in water just with the hose pipe... no need to submerge them in water for days like you do with Willow. Just spray over until they are soaking and then leave for about 15 mins in a cool place so that the water soaks in.

There you go... all ready to weave.


Bow making

My main Longbow snapped not long ago so it was time to make a new one. The tiller on my old bow never was perfect and thats why it snapped.

I finally believe I have got a good tiller on this longbow. It it 6 foot 5 inches long and had a simple 'D' shape cross-section. At full draw it it measures 57lb at 28" (thats the amount of power in poundage)


I scanned in a template from a book of what a perfect tiller should look like for this type of bow, then using the computer I placed this under my bow in the photograph to see how the tiller looks. I think its probably the best tiller I have ever managed to make on a bow
Primitive pottery

I successfully fired these pottery items in a big campfire. To make the pottery I used the clay I had dug out of the bank of a small stream. I added 'temper' to the clay to make it more forgiving during the firing stages. When the pot was finished I even cooked up part of a primitive meal in it which consisted of Burdock root and Cattail reed parts.

Pike Lure

First of all I carved the basic fish shape from a piece of wood. Then I filled a bucket with water and wrapped a small piece of lead around the fish. The lead was enough to sink the wood rapidly to the bottom. I decided that it may be best to weight the fish so that it does not sink so fast, I kept snipping a piece of lead off until the fish was slightly heavier than it was buoyant, making the fish dink much more slowly. I then cut the piece of lead into two halves and hammered them over and over into thin sheeting. I wrapped the thin lead around the wood which gave me the correct colour and weight for the fish. The lead is held on with small pin tacks. I could now easily tool the lead to add an effect which would mimic the fish scales. Finally I painted on the eyes and other details.

I attached the lure to my fishing rod and dangled it off a bridge near some weed and Lilly pads. After a while of trying different areas around the weed a Pike shot out and tried to take the lure! I couldn't believe it! I have never done anything like this before. I had not yet got hooks on my lure because I was purely interested to see if it would attract a Pike or not. However I will now attach hooks and catch my dinner some day soon.

Gill Net

I made this net recently, all the string and mesh work is made from inner Lime bark which I retted and prepared myself. The net has a bar mesh size of 4.5cm and I believe this would be good for catching small or medium sized Pike and other fish. The floats are Lime wood and the the sinkers on the bottom are sandstone. Overall length of the net is about 5.5m. The net took a lot of time to make, Overall with making all the cordage and tieing all the knots etc the whole project took me a week to complete.

The bottom line is is 20% longer than the top line, Which is an important part of the design. Also the lines are only knotted to the corners of the net. There is one thinner line which runs through the meshes at the top and then a thicker rope that runs above that. Both lines are then tied together about every 5 meshes so that the net can slide along the lines a little which makes the net more slack when a fish hits it. The same is done for the weights on the bottom.

Traditionally I think Linen was used, it is supposed to be very good for making nets. I am planning on making a cast net some day and I will be making that from Linen thread.



Autumn Harvest

I collected all of these Hazel nuts, somehow I got there before the squirrel! I have never even seen so many hazel nuts before. This year seems to be very good for all kinds of nuts, berries and fruit. There seems to be an abundance of Damsons here too. I think all of this may mean we are going to have a very cold winter this year!

I roasted the Hazel nuts using a quick burning fire the way that Ray Mears shows on his Wild Food series. I did not have any sand so I used a mix of dry sandy soil and ash from previous fires. I spread a single layer of the nuts on the ground and then spread a thin layer of the ash over the top. A quick burning fire is then lit on top which roasts the nuts. The flavour and digestibility of the nuts is enhanced dramatically.


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