Retrying the vines with the fire plough.
First up was Clematis Vitalbae (Travellers Joy, Old Man’s Beard) a creeping vine. It is soft wood and favoured for the hand drill hearth. The Greek botanist Theophrastus (300BC) sang it’s praises for friction fire in his work The Enquiry Into Plants over 2000yrs ago!
Anyway, Some people use it successfully for the fire plough. I can’t get on with it, I may go back and try different woods for the blade, the dust was just gritty and fine, and I prefer to save my precious stocks of Clematis for the hand drill 😀I tried Hazel and Willow blades.
Next up was Ivy, you want the real thick old vines growing up trees, it can grow very thick. Again, Ivy is soft and works well with Hand and Bow drill. Again, dust very fine. I tried Hazel no good then Willow (which is softer) and after a few tries, and experimenting with speed and pressure, I managed to tease out an ember 🙏🔥
I’m learning with the plough, it’s not just about going all mad for it, sometimes a steady rhythm with steady pressure works better, but other times you need that extra umpfff!
It’s all about experimenting.
Great fun, I’m addicted!
vines don’t have same consistency as wood- try splitting them 😀 so that may have an affect on the plough.... or not....
Anyway I’m Well chuffed with today’s experiments!
If you didn’t see the earlier post, I have also been successful with Willow on Willow 🔥
Happy Ploughing 🔥🙏
WHOOP! STOKED!! EXCITED!!!
Willow on Willow Fire Plough
I’ve been trying Fire Plough with willow for a while but my set has just seemed to be on damp side.
I had a theory this morning, to spend more time going slow to warm up and dry out the wood which I just had to try.
This clip is shortened to 60secs tho I spent about 6mins in total working with the willow on this one groove, going slow to warm up and dry out the groove, then increasing speed. It was close, but the coal went out so I then spent another minute or so ploughing, and.... it looked promising, the coal needed coaxing and with breath the ember emerged 🙏🔥
The ember wasn’t as strong as with seasoned Poplar and needed lots of TLC to get it established 🔥🙏
I’m excited in 2 ways:
1 - I’ve only had success with hazel on Poplar so it’s another wood combination and willow is pretty much widespread (in UK) and more common opening up more people to give the plough a go (Poplar can be hard to find) I recommend dry seasoned wood for learning 😀 (dry willow should be a lot easier 😀 )
2 - the theory still to be worked on and fully proved, but opens way for slightly damp wood to be used, tho needs a lot more experimentation on woods of different dampness (this wood only very slightly)
For me, this is a breakthrough 😀🔥🙏
Blessings on the ancestral fire!
I'm now regularly (for now) posting on Instagram, mostly about the fire plough (amongst other friction fire related topics!) , as I want as many people as possible to give it a go and succeed! :)
Check out my Instagram feed here: https://www.instagram.com/sacredhearthfrictionfire/
Here is a video I have recently made about the fire plough......
After many many attempts over the years at attempting the fire plough which is most likely one of the earliest friction methods attempted by our ancestors, but certainly not the easiest, I have finally managed to tempt an ember from the wood using this method favoured by the Polynesians. I still need to practice more to refine my technique as I'm still a little hit and miss. This is my 2nd successful attempt over the last two days. Some observations: This was Hazel on Poplar - the Poplar has been seasoned. Poplar is a soft hardwood. You don't want the wood too soft/or going punky as you will get dust before it gets hot and you will rip through the set too quickly. You don't want a deep channel. With the right wood combination you shouldn't end up with a too deep channel If the dust is fluffy then it will roll which is what you want to happen - I noticed this with this set The hand grip I am using works really well - I learnt this from a Samoan fire plough video. It allows you to apply pressure and use your shoulders more and put body weight behind it. So the fire plough is possible in the UK. It takes practice and finding the right combination of wood. The stick\plough is important too and you want to shave the end narrow so it is about 5mm wide . I may upload a another vide once I am more confident with the method.
I have now added a new page on the website for the Fire Plough as there seems to be very little information on the Fire Plough within the UK, so I hope this helps. See here.
Over the last week, I've been reconnecting with the Hand Drill, and I've been pleasantly surprised at how easy it has been to get back into it since it has been a while, and in the past it has been a love hate relationship!
Having some good dry pieces of Clematis for the hearth and some nice straight Teasel spindles helps, as well as having a few years of (on-off ) experience of the hand drill. My preferred stance is to kneel using a longer piece of wood (which I kneel on) to hold down the hearth. It's also about "feeling" the spindle in the hearth, to feel if more of less pressure is needed, and to relax into it and not get frustrated, but to just keep practicing!
It’s been a while, but I am still here and still passionate about fire. A few people have been in touch which has stirred the embers and brought a bit of life back into my inner fire!
I’ve posted a few things on my Facebook page recently. This is more a project, not a business so I do go through phases and have other things on too!
Anyways! Adaptability is the key to success!
Yes it is, and is one reason why us Homo Sapiens have done so well!
With the lockdown, I noticed a couple of people commenting that they couldn’t source materials.
I thought about this, and thought “well one just has to adapt” so I looked around the house and found 2 wooden coat hangers and an egg cup and made a bow drill set! It took a little experimentation but I managed to tease an ember 😀 Slow and steady worked best for me, and once done, you can hang them up for safe keeping ! And I discovered that egg cups make excellent bearing blocks!
The Sacred Hearth Fire has been slowly smouldering this year, as my attention has been elsewhere, but the passion is still here, and was re-invigorated this weekend at the Erti Suli camp where we communally welcomed the ancestral fire using the fire churn, which was a playful yet profound and deep experience. I've also been helping my friend Tom on Nomad - A journey with Purpose integrating my approach to fire , so there a few things going on and more sparks may ignite over the next year.....
So even if it may seem there is little going on with the website, the fire still burns, and there may be writings and posts to come this Autumn and Winter, and who knows what will unfold over the next year! I was also overjoyed this morning at receiving a lovely email thanking me for this website, I don’t get many emails from the website so it was heart warming to receive such a lovely email about how thankful they were for my research. Even if I just help one or two people, practically and even better to connect with fire on a deeper level then that makes me happy!
Personally I feel that the modern bushcraft/survival movement/industry has turned friction fire into just a practical skill/commodity where the emphasis is on the individual working against nature to make fire. My emphasis is about connecting with fire and nature on a deeper level, working with nature to welcome the ancestral fire, rather than just "making" fire. I also encourage people to work together, as indigenous peoples still do, which is why I lvoe the fire churn so much. And even with friction methods, when you are treating them as just practical methods it is still just as easy to take fire as granted (once you have become skilled with the method.) So I hope I can inspire just a few people to approach fire on a slightly different level!
I hope to update the website this Autumn and Winter maybe with a little more research, and I also hope to make some time to harvest some nettles (for cordage) and Teasel (for hand drill spindles) and willow herb (for tinder) in the next couple of weeks! (and bracken in October time!)
p.s. There is also the facebook page www.facebook.com/SacredHearthFrictionFire/
An interesting article by Stephen Corry
Today, after quite an absence I decided to pick up the Hand Drill again. Since it has been a while (a couple of months), my hands and muscles weren't very conditioned. I decided to use thumb loops. Thumb loops are basically an aid to the hand drill to prevent your hands from moving down the spindle. I use very simple thumb loops by tying a loop in each end of a piece of cordage (this is Jute) and tying the cordage around the top of the spindle. You do want each loop to hang at least 6 inches , otherwise I find it restricts movement of your hands.
You place each thumb through a loop and then rotate the spindle between your hands, as per usual for hand drilling, applying downward pressure as you spin. The thumb loops keep your hands in the same position.
It can take a bit of trial and error to get the knack of it and there have been times when I've found it easier without! It is a much under-used aid within the bushcraft community, I think a lot of people frown on it as cheating but for me it is just another aid, and you still need to learn and understand the principles of the hand drill to succeed with it. I do prefer to be able to Hand Drill without Thumb Loops but at times it can be a useful tool in the box, and can aid learning and aid in conditioning your hands\muscles (as you can usually go for longer as thumb loops are not as tiring as moving your hands up and down the spindle.)