Monday, August 24, 2015

Craft Camp - Bone Carving

Greetings bloglanders, the madness has calmed a bit and I'm ready to begin posting more about our trip to Estonia and Finland!  First up, the meat of the experience - Craft Camp. Day one - bone carving!

The workshop is full of old-school tools for woodworking and such. Fortunately we were granted access to electricity and some modern pieces. These are the types of tools that require a class to use properly! We did, however use hand saws, a good arm exercise.

Our instructor had already done much of the prep work. She gets bins of bones from butchers and the like. She also told us that the hunting laws in Estonia stipulate that the right jaw bone of each elk killed is sent to the University for census purposes. After recording the info they are just given away, she has the hook-up!
She cuts the bones into pieces, and then places them in a metal basket. The whole container is left in a swift flowing river for three days and the bones are tumble to a smooth edge. Fucking Brilliant! (This is why she makes the big bucks, I suppose.) 

She had dyed some of the pieces with wool dyes.
 Good thing too, as the sanding process was most of the work we did! Here's a few antler pieces I sawed off to make into buttons. They needed plenty of sanding to become smooth enough for use.

I imagine our ancestors, lacking sandpaper, may have used the river tumbling trick for most things!

 My main project for the morning was a traditional needle case. The main part is a hollow leg bone, it was filed down inside and decorated. with a rune circle.

A dremel was used to create the indentations, and colored beeswax smeared on it to bring out the design. The top and bottom are jawbone segments, one with the tooth still rattling about. The needles go into the piece of felt, which is then pulled into the bone shaft.
 The afternoon was focused on a pair of bone needles and a brooch. The needle on top is the instructor's sample. The middle one has been thinned and shaped down. The bottom one is the fresh cut of bone.

I ended up using my knife to whittle the bones, as the sanding was slower and hurt my hands!
 Folks in the class made a variety of things, with different bright colors and carved patterns galore! (I am too practical for little bone trinkets.)

The circle with dot pattern is a traditional Estonian motif - the dot represents the self, the circle is the world around us. Sometimes simple designs are more than meets the eye.

I'll be posting, in the coming weeks, about my other three workshops and our experiences in Estonia!

You too, gentle reader, could enjoy the culture and craftiness of Estonia!