WildCrafting is a KLT out-of-school program that engages kids to be creative using natural materials and simple hand tools. During the winter, time spent out in nature decreases for many kids so we bring a little nature to them. This comes in the form of birch bark, ocean spray shoots, red osier, dogbane, salmon skins, cedar and whatever else we find to use for crafts. Each craft we attempt is an opportunity for kids to stretch their abilities and grow in competence and also to connect to nature. We discuss how people in the past would make the articles they needed rather than running to the store or clicking on a screen. This act of creating using materials from nature can be a hugely empowering experience. It connects one to the place you live and reestablishes our connection to being makers rather than just consumers. This is not just another craft program aimed at producing polished final pieces. As Lanzo del Vasto wrote, “In the practice of any craft, we are less concerned with the quantity of the product than with its quality, and less concerned with the product than with the artisan”.
During the fall session, 36 students learned how to made coal-burned bowls, arrows, friction fire kits, wooden toolboxes, 8 strand rope, spoon carving, birch bark baskets. In our spring sessions over 100 students created felted wool bags, wicker baskets, tanned salmon skins, red osier baskets, quivers, soapstone carvings, and made wild-foods.The final spring session of WildCrafting taught participants how to tan deer hides, spending days scraping and stretching the raw hide in to soft buckskin to be made in to moccasins.
Ultimately, WildCrafting is about engaging people of all ages to use the wonderful hands we have been given to be creative, engaged and connected citizens of our natural community. When we come to care for the plants, animals, insects, fish and trees around us we will protect them. As we use these materials in our crafts we are connecting to the web of life and realizing our part in it. Our hope is that WildCrafting will birth a whole generation of artisans and craftspeople.