Archive for the ‘atlatl’ Tag

Beech atlatl

My third atlatl. Spalted beech with bone spurs, 24 inch with a slight flex. Influenced by the Alaskan style.


June craft work

Here are some of the crafts I’ve been working on since the last meeting of the Earth Living twelve month programme. Pictured here is a crocheted bag, primitive pottery, a leather flask, a new basketmaker-style atlatl and a new bow drill.

The crocheted bag is my first real attempt at using pattern, and I feel that it came out well, although the patterned section draws in narrower, so I need to work on my tension when changing yarns. It was originally intended to be a quiver, but came out too wide. I’m going to try again though and hopefully create a quiver using the same principle, but perhaps a different pattern.

Next up is a new bow drill bow made of hazel. This bow is flexible to help the string grip the spindle and counter the effect of string stretch. It is intended to be used with natural cordage, either plant or animal. I will get around to making a proper rawhide string at some point but this one is corded jute. As natural string is more liable to wear than nylon it helps to hold the bow at an angle to prevent it rubbing against itself on the spindle. As a result the bow needs to be shorter to prevent hitting the ground. This one’s about 16 inches.

The back of the bow has the bark left on for decorative effect, though I would like to get hold of a rawhide snake skin at some point and use it to back a bow drill bow. The handhold is a black stone I found near the river, but I need to spend some time pecking out the hole.

Also pictured above is a rawhide bottle I made to store coal extender. It’s sewed with linen thread and sealed with hide glue. The stopper is a section of buddleia stalk.

This is another bottle I made, this time as a flask for liquids. It’s make out of vegetable tanned leather sewn with linen thread, and with a hazel stopper. It still needs waterproofing with beeswax. This flask was really just a prototype of a bigger flask I hope to be able to carry a serious amount of water in. This is currently in production, as pictured. Once I’ve made the bigger flask I shall waterproof them both together. I may end up using the smaller one as a medicine flask.

Next up is my second atlatl, this time a basketmaker style at about 23 or 24 inches. It’s made of hazel stained with walnut husk stain. The spur is bone and the finger grip is jute soaked in hide glue. The atlatl is slightly flexible to help even out the distribution of force and give the dart an extra zing. I’m pretty pleased with it, apart from the fact the pith of the wood is visible on the surface of the atlatl which detracts from it slightly. The stain came out a lot darker than I intended but I quite like it in contrast to the white spur.

Finally these are my unfired primitive coil pots, some of which I produced on the last part of the Earth Living course and some since. We’ll be firing these next week at the next meeting. Fingers crossed that they’ll survive! I’ll post a picture of any that do when I come back.

My first atlatl

Here’s the atlatl I’ve just completed. It’s a European-style hazel atlatl measuring 25 inches (21 inches to the spur). The spur is bone and the handle wrap is wool.

The dart is just a practice one I’ve made from 12mm diameter dowelling from a DIY shop. I did it in the style of my practice arrows with white turkey feathers and green and red cresting. The nocking point is cut out from a limpet shell to create a strong and slightly concave nock. The dart is 6 foot 7 inches, which I think is a bit long for me. I might ending up bringing the length down to 6 foot.

The foreshaft and tip is removable, and this one is burnished and polished yew. I’m also going to make a blunt from cork for practicing with. Now to go out and play!

I think for my next atlatl I’m going to try an Alaskan style.

Boomerang and woomera

I found these Australian Aboriginal artefacts in my parents’ loft! The first is a boomerang which would have been used as a throwing stick for hunting small game, knocking things down from trees etc. The second is a woomera, a spear thrower similar to an atatl.

Unlike an atlatl, a woomera typically has this paddle shape. Some had multiple functions and had a cutting edge along one side for chopping, or were used to carry water-soaked vegetable matter. I love the snake pattern carved into the surface of this one. I doubt I’ll be using this one for spear throwing but it’s hugely inspirational.