Monday, April 2, 2012

Skills - the ramblings of a starting amateur... me.

Mind you, I'll be talking about skills, not crafts! Skills are for amateurs (as in not being paid for it) and starters, crafts are for professionals and advanced levels of skills... If you know what I mean.

I want to learn many things and, knowing me, I can and will learn most of them to an acceptable degree. I'm a jack-of-all-trades kind off person. Know a lot, but never excel in 1 thing. I simply loose interest over time and move onto something else. I do not spend enough time with one thing to lift that to very high standards and make it into a craft. And I don't have to! I am satisfied when something I've done works and looks presentable and acceptable. I do not need to finetune and tweak it to perfection. That is what craftsmen do.
So far I have learned the basics of sewing, both with hand and machine. I can repair cloths and keep them functional. I can make things from scratch to be functional and I learned the basic characteristics of the most common fabrics and thread.
I've learned how to work with leather and am capable of making the most basic of things; pouches, sheaths, belts, sandals and moccassins.... I know the basic tools, how to work both artificially and naturally treated leather, allthough I really need to refresh that knowledge, because it has been a while since. I really like this skill. It is very rewarding and has practically limitless possibilities. I admire those crafts(wo)men, who create the most beautiful things out of them, ranging from tankards and flasks to belts, purses and everything else.
I taught myself how to work with wood and I must admit that this is a skill that really suits me. I love it... It is so versatile, so soothing and so rewarding. This is an area I will be venturing deeper into, simply because it is so varied. I have had a try in woodturning, which was fun, but still needs a machine or at least untill I am able to make my own footpowered lathe...
I did "constructional" work, as I call it, by redoing a machete for instance, but I also did industrial woodworking, using large machines etc... which did not suit me.
I also had a try on woodcarving, which was fun too, even when you take into account that most of it was done with factorysharp tools.
But in order to work wood properly you need to have tools, sharp ones preferably. That means you have to work metal as in sharpening knives, axes, chisels etc.... Now I have worked with metal and learned that that is definitly not my area. I do not like the material; it's cold, hard and you need brute force, like machines, to make it do what you want it to; heating, hamering, grinding.... And when you work it, it fights back and even screams at you. Maybe I learned it all wrong, but somehow I do not have the desire to (re)learn it properly. That does not mean that I do not have respect for the skill and much more the craft of working with metal. I am allways in awe, when I see a blacksmith at work, creating a knife or an axe or even a nail! But it has to be done by hand, over an open forge and anvil.

But still you need to learn how to sharpen your tools. And that is something I am getting the hang of. By now I can sharpen a knife and axe to a reasonable degree, so I can work with them. I need to practice some more in order to make working with them easier still. So I'm going to step it up a notch and try my hand on a set of woodworking chisels and woodcarvingtools and knives. And you probably allready guessed it; I did all this without machines.... It is work done by hand.

There are so much more skills I want to learn; hunting and tracking, dressing game and hidetanning. I also want to learn to find edible plants and mushrooms, homesteading. Maybe even some bowmaking, which I than can combine with the hunting.

Now you probably are wondering why the h*ll I am rambling on about skills....
It's pretty simple actually. I fear that many of those skills are about to be lost and yet I feel that these skills are vitaly important to us, humans. I believe that in learning these skills and do them by hand, we learn so much about our innerselves and the world around us. We learn who we are, what we can and can not do, what we really need and not. We need to see the world with different eyes and to show it the respect it deserves, if we are to live in it and use what it has to offer to us. We need not only to take, but to give back also and if we take, it should be only that what we need and no more.

My experience with "dressing" the bird yesterday made me realise to the full extend how allienated I, and we, have become from this world and its treasures. I had a reasonably good idea befor, but this experience brought home the message in full HD-1million colour-widescreen-100Hz-images.
Yet I also know how hard it is to unlearn our ways of today. It is not just psychologically very difficult, but also practically impossible to do so, overnight. We need to do this step by step, day by day, but we really need to start taking those steps now!

1 comment:

  1. Totally agree with you, Ron. So many skills are being lost so quickly that most people are almost totally dependent on products, foods etc. from factories and large farms. So different from the "old days".

    I'm happy and proud to see that you, like me, try your hand at different skills, materials etc. and have ambitions to learn lots more. Let's hope more people join our ranks!

    weekendwoodsman

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