Traditional Craft

I remember the first spoon I carved:  it broke halfway through.  I remember feeling a powerful inner calling – an inexplicable compulsion – to make a basket.   I checked out books from the library, gathered a bunch of willow shoots from a field edge, and made a formless unfinished mess.  I remember trying to tan a deerskin with directions a friend gave me – I smeared the rawhide with egg yolks and ended up with a glazed, sticky, stiff board.  When you don’t know how to do anything, getting started can be difficult.

That’s when I realized I needed teachers.  Not books, but actual live people.  I’ve had some good teachers along the way – thank you.

At a certain point, crafts start to blend together, and you realize that you’re using the same stitch on your handmade shoes as your birch bark canoe.  Bending a native-style snowshoe with no form and tillering a wooden bow become the same process.  Whittling a serving spoon and carving out a traditional wooden Cree snow shovel.   Skinning a beaver and…well, skinning a beaver is its own thing.

This is when crafts really start getting interesting, and this is when the possibilities open up.  See below for more detail on traditional craft projects.