Saturday, March 30, 2013

A Traditional Fishing Kit with All Stone Tools

 I finally found the footage we shot last year of carving composite bone fishhooks, twining plant fiber cordage fishing line, and pecking and polishing grooved stone weights with all stone tools. Unfortunately the resolution is a bit lacking, and I had some weird glitches pop up while editing. But even though the video is a little choppy, we think you’ll enjoy it, as we certainly had fun making it!  Foragers, Buck, Bill and I had spent the afternoon under a nice old sycamore using sandstone and granitic rocks for abraders and meta-volcanic flakes for saws, knives, and wedges. We worked (if you can call it that…I would be more inclined to call it fun) through the afternoon carving yew wood I had cut in Northern CA, and bone we had gathered in the mountains. I had traded a good Chumash friend for the dogbane that we twined into fishing leaders. Nicholas Santos and I had gathered the cattail leaves that became my main line in the San Gabriel Mountains; and the pitch we used to glue the hook points to shanks was from conifer resin I had gathered in the eastern Sierra Nevada’s. Traditional technologies are great for so many reasons; one in particular, is that they are free! Additionally, by taking part in the manufacture of tools that our ancestors relied on for their daily subsistence, we gain insight into the ancient life-ways that led to our very existence. Finally, by gaining first-hand knowledge of traditional technologies, your perspective of the natural world that surrounds you will be vastly broadened. After all, in order to produce our fishing kit with all stone tools, we had to first gain a knowledge of local ethno-botany (how cultures made use of plants) and geology (to understand the principles of our lithic raw materials). We had a lot of laughs during the process, and we hope you have fun watching the footage. Now, if the sea will just calm a bit, maybe we can get out there and see if our fishing tackle really works! Get out foraging soon, don’t take yourself too seriously, and always strive to keep the old ways alive! -by Kevin Smith


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