Archive for the ‘books’ Tag

Lost Crafts

Lost CraftsI bought this book a couple of weeks ago, but didn’t get a change to look at it properly until this weekend. It’s a wonderful overview of a range of traditional crafts, from popular pastimes such as whittling and making fire to more unusual things like working scrimshaw and glass-blowing.

If you’re looking for detailed instructions of how to do each activity you’ll be disappointed; this is more of an inspirational book to perk up your interest in a particular topic, so you can then go away and do your own research and experimentation. Having said that, this is so much more than a ‘coffee-table’ book. It’s filled with well-researched historical information and wonderful anecdotes about each of theĀ  disciplines.

I particularly fancy having a go at flint-knapping, coracle making, beer brewing, bee-keeping (eventually) and making oil lamps and rushlights.

Radical Simplicity

I’ve just finished reading Radical Simplicity by Dan Price. This is an illustrated story of how Dan gave up the everday life and went to live in a meadow in Oregan US, which he leased from some neighbours for $100 a year.

Starting off with a tipi, Dan recounts the various bright ideas for alternative shelter over the course of a number of years, from elaborate connected domes to simple holes in the ground. As time goes on, he realises that he needs fewer and fewer possessions and a smaller and smaller amount of space, until his shelter is little more than a sleeping bag and plastic sheet.

As his possessions and responsibilities decrease he feels a wonderful sense of freedom and connectedness that manifests itself in the things he notices and the way in which he describes his world through his writing and illustrations.

After the process of minimalising reaches its peak, Dan settles for a simple and effective hobbit hole, measuring little more than eight feet across, in which to live out his days. This is complemented by a small office constructed of sturdy planks and boulders from which to send out his illustrated journal, and the ever-present ‘Old Man’, the sauna.

This book has put my mind into overdrive with possible designs for alternative living and a desire to get rid as many of the things I own (or the things that own me) as possible!