Primitive technology is the practice of making tools, structures, textiles, and clothing using only natural materials found in the wild. The goal of this pastime is to revisit disciplines and skills that modern technology has made obsolete. Some of the projects in this book are based on techniques used in primitive times; others are drawn from my own experiences with outdoors crafting.
Growing up in a rural area of Australia’s Far North Queensland, I had an interest in science but no access to the latest technology. The systems and techniques our ancestors used to secure the basic amenities humans have always needed for survival—food, clothing, and shelter—intrigued me. I became preoccupied by the idea of making implements from scratch and living in the wilderness without contemporary resources. As most children do, I built small forts using sticks and stones; once I mastered rudimentary skills I tackled more complex structures and techniques. The next step was to film the building process, and I created a YouTube channel for all the videos. I knew that others might enjoy my hobby as much as I did, but I didn’t anticipate how popular the channel would become, and I’m grateful to everyone who has supported it.
This book is a collection of projects featured on my YouTube channel, each one tested and refined over my years of honing the skills of primitive technology. The instructions and information on materials detailed in this book will help you to make them yourself. Most of the materials I use are native to Australia, so where possible I’ve suggested substitutions, but I encourage you to experiment with whatever you find in the wild. The level of difficulty ranges from easy (a few steps or materials) to complicated. If primitive technology is new to you, I recommend working with a partner on the more advanced projects.
In this book, you’ll read about the projects I came up with for my channel. One particularly vexing obstacle I had to deal with involved animal products. Because of the legal restrictions on hunting in Australia, I had to come up with alternatives for bone and leather, which was especially difficult for some projects. For example, it would have been much easier to make a bellows out of leather instead of clay, wood, and bark, as I did for the forge blower (see page 186). But discovering new ways to work with natural materials is what I enjoy the most about primitive technology. I love borrowing from the world around me to create something useful.
I hope primitive technology inspires you as much as it did me to engage with the outdoors. Thanks for watching and reading.
Copyright © 2019 by John Plant. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.