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Making Pencils and More


The blend of sun and wind today helped us all feel so alive and cheerful. We started the day with a bow and drill and hand drill race between instructors. The children scraped cedar bark and added cattail and milkweed fluff to make a tinder bundle to catch the first coal. Some of the children saw the magic of friction fire making for the first time, and hopefully the experience lit a fire of inspiration in them for learning earth skills.

We headed off to camp, and stopped along the way to gather grapevines for our charcoal pencil making. We clipped the vines, peeled the bark, and stuffed them into tins to burn in the fire. Burning the vines in a low oxygen environment (like tins) helps the resulting pencils to have an even density and draw with consistent results. Later, we cut up old t-shirts and burned them in tins, too. We were left with "char cloth," burned cloth that will easily hold a spark from our flint and steels.  

We heard a story about a little boy that had quite different gifts than the other boys in the village, who mostly liked to hunt and fish. This little one made his own paints and brushes and dolls, and was responsible for the first Indian Paintbrush flowers in the spring. Luckily, he lived in a community that was accepting of what everyone had to offer.

The rest of the day was spent finishing the second wattle wall, playing, practicing with a sling Josh made for me, and playing a game of Eagle Eye.

—Theresa and Julie