Plants in Hand

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This was a weekend all about using our hands, and exploring the many expressions of plants. Whether it’s their fibre, fruit or physical structure. We spent the weekend playing with some of the many crafty,  utilitarian ways to work with plants !
We started first with learning about friction fire, a skill practiced for centuries, that has played a vital role in human evolution! Some tried with the bow drill, in partners and some solo. We got 1 on 1 coaching from Alexis and Laura Gilmour (of Wild Muskoka Botanicals is a basket-full of awesome, she is a Herbalist, traditional-skills practicer, crafter, naturalist, teacher and so much more. We were lucky to have Laura as special guest for the weekend!).
And the reminder that bow-drill is not all about strength, but about technique, and taking time to make adjustments to be efficient.
Hannah and Bobbi got coals! Yippy
With fire on our minds, we switched focus to making Pitch Sticks aka natural hot Glue!
We used a combination of Spruce or Pine Resin warmed and filtered through a mesh strainer + ground up charcoal + ground up grass (rabbit or deer scat work even better!) + a pinch of ground egg shells to help temper the mixture and help keep the pitch from melting in the sunlight.
After lunch our hands got sticky with White Pine sap, as we carefully pealed back the bark of a recently harvested White Pine trunk to make baskets!
Genevieve’s beautiful butterfly engraved in her basket!
The fire kept burning into the night, with an abundance of coals for making spoons and bowls.
Laura showed us some nifty ways to transport the fire! In a Birch polypore mushroom, a Mullein torch and a beer-can lantern that really lit the way!
The next day we dived into Cordage making, using the inner fibre of Milkweed, Nettle and Dogsbane to make rope!
Laura showed us how to make coil baskets using Cattails, or even cordage!
Next we dived into the world of Natural dye, Nicola and Hannah shared what they had learned about eco-printing and we gave it a whirl! We pressed plants from around the farm into silk, then wrapped them up real tight around a stick, then boiled them for 1 hour, the results were AMAZING!
We used Buckthorn Berries to make a vivid green ink, and the husks of the Black Walnuts to make a delicious smelling, dark brown ink!
Lastly we had the pleasure of learning one last basket-making technology from Laura, this time using Willow!
What a wondeful weekend full of inspiration, and a reminder that there are so many ways to know plants!

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