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"Simpler" times

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"Simpler" times

Postby Thorsten » Fri May 10, 2019 1:27 pm

Split off from the topic Making movies.

wlbragg wrote in Sun May 05, 2019 8:17 pm:The spinning wheel made me stop and think about a simpler time and how people used to have different skill sets for getting through day to day life.


About 'simple' I don't really know... 8) Plenty of what they had seems pretty high-tech if you actually have to reproduce it somehow. For instance, we're learning to tan leather, and while I certainly get something out of the process, it certainly isn't as smooth as I would wish - but I don't even have the faintest where in the process I need to improve to get better results. Let alone that I would dare to tackle a large skin like a cow... Whereas in past ages, they could do this routinely.

And now consider e.g. a viking ship, the amount of experience and skill that needs to go into that.

Certainly skill sets were very different those days... :D
Last edited by Johan G on Sat May 11, 2019 5:27 pm, edited 2 times in total.
Reason: Split off from the topic "Making movies" + Added link to the quote
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Re: Making movies

Postby wlbragg » Fri May 10, 2019 8:03 pm

Good points about technology. I was more thinking of how you could make the yarn and then knit or crochet you clothing.

Your talking to an ex-trapper, in my youth, so I know something about the process. The key is removing all the tissue and membrane, a good tanning solution whichever type you use, and working the hide, or fur thoroughly throughout the process.
Some of the best success I had with small fur, rabbit to coyote was a paste solution applied to the skin side of the prepared pelt and rolled up to tan, then clean and work the pelt as it dried. I had some really good results with that method. More recently with deer hide I purchased a commercial tanning kit that came with the chemicals, hair remover and tanning solution and a softening solution I think. It did much of the work for you, but you still needed to start with a well prepared hide. Tanning fur or hide is not for the faint of heart!
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Re: Making movies

Postby wlbragg » Fri May 10, 2019 8:08 pm

For rabbit, I had a friend who's Father was a native of Mexico and very skilled in these things and he introduced us to a homemade solution of lemon juice, baking soda and salt applied as a paste, rolled up to tan for a week or so, then clean and work as it dried. Ended up with beautiful, white leather and the fur side stays nice and natural.
Ah, memories!
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Re: Making movies

Postby curt » Fri May 10, 2019 8:47 pm

Good points about simplicity, technology, and different eras. The human brain has a certain capacity for complexity. This jumped out at me when I was watching a couple guys who built a raft out of plastic junk and floated it from CA to Hawaii. Their raft couldn't have been more than a few meters long. Sitting low to the water in the middle of the open-ocean, your world becomes very small. Yet they had a blog they published which was fascinating ... stories about the fish that came up to their raft, varieties of weather, their canned goods that got wet and all the labels came off ... so meals were a total surprise. Their tiny world has fascinating details. Compare that to an astronaut in the ISS ... their world is also very small in some ways, but also very big .... yet our brains stay the same size and we see about the same amount of detail ... just different scales. I see this likely applies to the passage of time as well. Today we can spend an entire weekend doing nothing but binge watching netflix and everything is fine. A couple 100 years ago, if we took 2 days off to do nothing, we'd probably die of starvation 3 days later. Which is the simpler time?
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Re: Making movies

Postby V12 » Sat May 11, 2019 4:04 pm

Do You know Kon-Tiki story ? Or RA 1 and RA expeditions 2 ? Very interesting.
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Re: Making movies

Postby Johan G » Sat May 11, 2019 6:06 pm

I took the liberty to split off the topic.

I once was on a school trip to Norway and Oslo. One of the places visited was the Kon-Tiki Museum. All of those expeditions involved Thor Heyerdahl, who is kind of interesting with regard to the statues on Easter Island as he did some experimental archaeology trying to find out if those could have "walked", which they, in a way, very well might have done.*

Regarding "simpler" times, I often wonder over the amount of knowledge most people in the larger cities lack these days when it comes to the bare fundamentals of being able to build shelter, find or make drinkable water and making fire. Not to mention safe handling basic tools like knives, axes and saws. That only covers maybe at top three weeks survival in a subarctic climate.

It is also interesting to see how important trade was even in the stone age. If I am not wrong, flint stone was only available in the southern parts of Scandinavia, yet stone age settlements and flint tool findings goes further up than that. I wonder if it would have been even possible to settle that far up without cutting tools.

* The Easter Island statues might at some point be in the FlightGear scenery (see Easter Island & Mataveri Airport.
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Re: "Simpler" times

Postby Thorsten » Sat May 11, 2019 6:17 pm

yet our brains stay the same size and we see about the same amount of detail ..


Thanks for that insight - this really made something click.

I think you're entirely right - it's out minds which determine the richness of the world we experience, not really external circumstances. If I travel all the time across the world, I only record the coarse patterns - whereas if I stay in one place, I notice all the details and even a flower in an unexpected place starts to be news.
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Re: "Simpler" times

Postby Thorsten » Sat May 11, 2019 6:28 pm

The key is removing all the tissue and membrane, a good tanning solution whichever type you use, and working the hide, or fur thoroughly throughout the process.


So much for the theory.

In practice we work with rabbit hide. I had (as far as I can tell) identical tanning solutions (birch bark) prepared for two pieces, and both received some post-processing with glycerin and were softened the same way - yet one is really soft (almost like a T-Shirt), the other piece is much harder.

So... there's some factor at play which I really don't understand or control...

Fur seems to work reasonably well - the high-quality pieces we tan with alum, the rest just with swine fat thoroughly massaged in - both seem to give decent results, although I again need glycerin to soften the alum-tanned pieces enough (fat generally works fine).

In the movies, you can see Cliodhna's leather pouch sometimes - that's my second bark-tanned leather :D
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Re: "Simpler" times

Postby Johan G » Sat May 11, 2019 6:31 pm

Thorsten wrote in Sat May 11, 2019 6:17 pm:I think you're entirely right - it's out minds which determine the richness of the world we experience, not really external circumstances. If I travel all the time across the world, I only record the coarse patterns - whereas if I stay in one place, I notice all the details and even a flower in an unexpected place starts to be news.

I actually have not thought of it that way, but it sure make sense. :)
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Re: "Simpler" times

Postby wlbragg » Sat May 11, 2019 9:09 pm

the high-quality pieces we tan with alum,

Right, I've used alum as well. I remember using it in a paste method.
Is birch bark a dark or light colored tanning? Where I lived at the time Oak was the go to wood for tanning leather. How about brain tanning?
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