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Lost crafts and trades

 
Posts: 31
Location: The Carolinas
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OK so I'm looking for some of the lost and dying crafts and trades. Something that comes to mind is blacksmithing.

I'm looking to practice one of these and maybe even revive it.
 
Posts: 307
Location: Stone Garden Farm Richfield Twp., Ohio
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We have a museum and have moved 41 buildings here so far. We're setting up every craft and trade common to a small town 150 yrs. ago. We'll end up with something like 34 shops, plus a school house, post office and Gen'l store. Among the reasons we are doing what we do is to save history, and to preserve fast disappearing trades. Depending on where a person lives, what is disappearing is widely different. We have many Amish communities near here, so harness & horse collar making, buggy building, broom making, blacksmithing, weaving, book binding, wood working, cheese making, tin making, steam engine running and repair, rope making, wagon & buggy wheel making, and such, are all fairly common. In other areas without an Amish presence, those skills/trades are much less common. No matter what the trade, it can take years to gather the equipment and learn how to do WELL what it takes to practice the trade.

My suggestion to you is to figure out what trade really interests you. Find somebody somewhere to teach it to you. Then learn it really well. To "save" something, you need to be a master at it. Anything less is just a hobby. One place to start your search for your hearts desire is YouTube. There are hundreds of videos on how to do everything. Start to learn, become an apprentice, then start to get good..

P.S. Blacksmithing is still quite common. If you like working with metal, large copper kettle making is much less common.
www.ohiofarmmuseum.com   www.stonegardenfarm.com
 
pollinator
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I have really got interesting in making charcoal/biochar. It was a HUGE part of history prior to 1830 in Maine and beyond, and hope to perfect that craft soon. Will I become a part time Collier? Perhaps! It might really work well for my farm and what I am trying to accomplish on my farm right now. Just to claify, that is clearing forest into farmland so I can raise more sheep, utilizing waste wood that has no other market, and learning a new trade of the older days.
 
steward
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Location: Northern WI (zone 4)
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Blacksmithing is a great skill to have.  Enough people still do it that you can learn from others and then maintain the craft.  There are so many lost crafts and trades out there.

How are you going to pick a craft?  

Do you want to pick a truly "lost" craft or trade?  Or just one that a couple people in the US know?  Or one that many people think is lost but is still being practiced?

Do you want to pick something that lines up with your interests or is the novelty of a "lost trade" the biggest allure?

If you want a very lost trade that is novel, try your hand at making chariots.  From what little I know, there are hundreds of minute details in designing an axle and wheel for a chariot that made them truly perform and most are lost to the ages.  More practical would be wagon axles and wheels.  That knowledge is out there but in very limited supply.

Some novel skills (but not particularly "lost") that I'm personally interested in but will never master are:
Blacksmithing with charcoal that I've made myself
Smelting
Tanning hides
 
Travis Johnson
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One idea I had was to produce hand derived wood only.

I know a lot of people do woodworking with hand tools only. I used to before I got sheep and they sucked up all my time. But one thing NO ONE has, is wood that is 100% hand done, from stump to finished product. It would be a lot of work, but for those with only a few acres to mess with, they could demand high prices for even a single tree. Some simple machines like a hand cranked planing machine and stuff would take some drudgery out of the work, but I can see someone with 30 acres making the most money possible from their land.
 
T. Gardner
Posts: 31
Location: The Carolinas
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All great posts, Travis I been working towards doing woodworking from tree to finished product using joinery and hand tools. Also I would like to make all the knobs, hinges and any metal I use as well
 
gardener
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Location: Zone 6b
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I have training as a gold, silver, and black smith. Each is a different metal and different skills needed (yes I have raised vessels from sheet silver, that is a silversmith, and done patternwelding and produced Damascus steel blades)

I took torchon bobbin lace and still make some over 20 years later.

As a small child I learned about gathering natural stuff and dyeing fibers and textiles, R Ranson, you are a queen of such, my only claim is I was introduced to it very young.

I can tan hides including brain tan. I work with sinew, bone, and horn.

You want dying out crafts and trades.... hm. It's a steep learning curve (in my case) on how to run a springpole lathe.

I should ask, what interests you? That is where you should start. Working with a particular medium. Doing a particular process.

(the local museum here was donated a broom corn broom making machine and a few spent a lot of time restoring it to functioning. I have volunteered to learn to operate it then be dressed in settler garb (circa 1905-1910 for here) and demonstrate it during a few special events and open houses. Some local Mennonites have offered to grow the raw materials in return for a few brooms...)
 
gardener
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I make biochar.  It's been really interesting. I think it will have a big impact long term.

I've been grafting for decades.  It has really helped my food forest.

Beekeeping for mason bees? Maybe never was popular, but it increases my yield in my orchard by a lot and helps nature.

Does foraging count? I've been doing that most of my life.

John S
PDX OR
 
Posts: 2
Location: Springfield, OR
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My wonderful husband is actually a blacksmith, and I can tell you that there are tens of thousands of blacksmiths still alive and well in our country. Granted the majority of them are hobbyist, but the craft still has a bit of fire let in it. Now, blacksmithing is divided into three sects: blade smithing, farriers, and traditional/general blacksmithing. My husband is specializes in knives and blades, but is constantly learning more about general blacksmith, from making spoons, nails, to catapults, and basic shop machines, like a power hammer. He even does a smelting event every year, and is always taking his magnet to find black sand at the beach. He makes biochar, his own charcoal, and wood vinegar as well. His father and grandfather were gunsmiths, another lost craft, and he grew up in their shops. So I do not believe blacksmithing is a "lost" craft, just underground, and slowly gaining popularity with shows like Forged in Fire.

I would go so far as to say that what we would think that are lost crafts, are really underground, and if you're not plugged into the communities, you would never know. I'm a crocheter and a knitter, and being a young person, I always found others who knew and enjoyed my craft too, but those who were not, were always surprised to see me with yarn in my hand. It heartens me to see so much interests in the ancient crafts.
 
pollinator
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Location: northern northern california
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i am super into anything homespun. homespun is a lot more revolutionary and important than one might think.

my skill set includes -- pottery, sculpture with a variety of different mediums, work with fibers, textiles, sewing, leather craft, beadwork. i have also done some work with metals, and a bit of glass blowing.

some of the more rare/lost arts i practice are paper making and bookbinding.
 
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