Primitive Skills Workshops & Classes with Zachary Fischer and guest instructors
We offer individual and group classes on a variety of primitive skills, including hide tanning, tracking, survival skills, basket weaving, friction fire, bird language, cordage, and more. Download a printable flyer of recent workshops here.
Contact us to discuss what custom classes might best suit your needs and wants.
Why Primitive Skills?
When so much is available at our fingertips, on modern Walmart shelves and online wishlists, many wonder why anyone would practice primitive skills. Why track and kill a deer, and then skin, soak, scrape, stretch, and smoke its hide to make clothing, instead of buying a smooth leather jacket from the storefront downtown? Why spend time and energy carving branches, tying knots, and spinning wood against wood to make a fire instead of clicking a lighter or turning on the indoor heat?
In answer, a story: The willow stood tall and red by the river where I sat in the sun on a February day. I watched a deer feed by the banks, a great blue heron fly over the cottonwood tree to my right, and a box elder beetle crawl slowly over my skin. The willow, like plants do so well, allowed itself to be cut and taken for my use. I took what I was offered, giving thanks in return. As I weaved a basket, my gratitude for the willow was in my hands as well; I felt the willow’s friendship in its red bark and flexible stem as I laced piece over piece. The basket now sits in my house by my dresser, holding odds and ends. Each time I put a book or a carabiner or a jacket in its hollow, I feel a spark of thanks and see images of willow, deer, birds, beetles, and my weaving hands.
I could have gone to the store and bought a basket. When using that basket, however, what feelings and images would have come? Every time I receive a gift from the world and make something from it, my world gets a little bigger: I have more friends and family. By forming these relationships, my appreciation for what I have and surround myself with grows. I also gain an amazing sense of independence and freedom from knowing that I can create what I need from what exists all around me.
Practicing primitive skills involves forming a connection with our surroundings, with the goal of creating something for ours or others’ survival. We may create a fire, a meal, or a bow. One of the most important things we can create is community, which includes the relationships we have with both people and place. If we listen, the animals and plants can inform us how to survive, and the wild can become our home. If we feel at home wherever we are, without fear, hunger, or thirst, then we are never lost.