Folklore day at Murberget

Murberget is the county museum, and Also the handicraft consultant who works there had organised a day for people who work in the field -or who are interested. It was free, and there were not a lot of people there, which is a bit sad as it was a good day!

There were two people presenting, one was Jonatan Malm who made films, stop motion films, music and a lot of stuff with wood. Spoons, cupboards, bikes that play music as you pedal, performances etc etc

The other was Markus Vallien who got us all outside in the drippy forest making fire from nothing. He instructed us to find the smallest twigs from the trees, pull them off and strip the bark/moss etc off them with our hands. Then the next size up, and so on. He sorted everything into neat piles on the ground.

Then he got out the various components of the fire-making bow, a piece of wood with a hole in it, birch bark under the hole, a round post about 20 cm high, a bow with string and a stabilising handle that could be secure in the ground. He set up the hole, the post in it, the bow string round it and the stabiliser on top of the pole to keep everything steady. Then he pressed the stabiliser with one hand and went hell for leather with the bow, twisting the post.

It's called a bow drill, and looks like this, more or less.

In say half a minute there was smoke and a little pile of charcoal on the birch bark. He transferred the charcoal to some fluffed up inner bark of the juniper tree, blew on it and Poff! Flame.

He put it all on the ground on some more birch bark and started piling the twigs on top. In no time there was a fire that looked very reliable. The graded twigs were added till the fire was blazing. Here it's just getting going. You can see the moss on some of the twigs, the way they are sort of dumped on top of the little flame.

This is what passes for entertainment here in the wintery north. I loved it all, the elemental natured the fire, the elegant, assured way he worked, the co-operation of the group, the acceptance that this was totally relevant to making handicrafts today. Sweden at her best.

Indoors Alva, one of my ex-students and a working artist, ran a workshop about re-doing handicrafts, adding and taking away from existing things. I took a birch bark glasses case that was falling to bits, and adorned it with glorious things. Including a tiny carved bird. It will sit nicely on the kitchen table with my reading glasses in it and remind me of how stimulating it is to meet other creative people, and to work together practically. My head is full of ideas for new things to do, to try, to play with!

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