Recently, I’ve been watching a lot of YouTube videos on survivalism, bushcraft, backyard knifemaking, and the like. This is not because I’m some sort of doomsday prepper or endtimes weirdo. I just find the ingenuity and resourcefulness in many of these videos to be inspiring. And highly entertaining. And, I figure, it can’t hurt to know how to make a fire without matches, build a waddle and daub hut, or weave baskets out of vines and greenery. Of all of the channels on these subjects, the most captivating to me is Primitive Technology.
In a style similar to Jimmy DiResta’s DiResta series, Primitive Technology wordlessly follows an Aussie survivalist going about the business of creating everything required to sustain a life in the wilds of Far North Queensland Australia. In the course of the series, he’s built several small huts, kilns, hand tools, baskets, pottery, a sling shot, and more — all using only the tools he made himself. There is something extremely romantic and inspiring about starting with absolutely nothing but your hands and your wits and scratch-building the world around you.
The videos are obviously edited to make all of the builds as enchanting and effortless-looking as possible. So what. These are very watchable videos, and I definitely feel like I’m learning something with each. I had never seen the process by which a grass basket was made, for instance. I found that strangely exciting to watch. And the ridiculously laborious process of making and kiln-firing his own clay roofing tiles.
Here are a few of the videos on Primitive Technology and the notes from the YouTube postings. The Primitive Technology blog also includes more details on each video.
“A small kiln was built of mud from the ground and a perforated floor of clay from the creek bank. Clay was dug, broken tiles (from previous batches) were crushed and added to it as grog and it was mixed thoroughly. This clay was pressed into rectangular molds made from strips of lawyer cane to form tiles. Wood ash prevented the clay sticking to the stone. 20 tiles were fired at a time. 450 flat tiles and 15 curved ridge tiles were made with only a few breakages. 26 firings were done in all and the average firing took about 4 hours. The fired tiles were then hooked over the horizontal roof battens.
“An underfloor heating system was built into one side of the hut to act as a sitting/sleeping platform in cold weather. This was inspired by the Korean Ondol or “hot stone.” A trench was dug and covered with flat stones with a firebox at one end and a chimney at the other for draft. The flames traveled beneath the floor heating it. After firing it for a while the stones stay warm all night with heat conducted directly to the sleeping occupant and radiating into the room.”