Knife Carving & Safety - Story of the Day

January 26, 2020

Greetings Families! 


We are so incredibly grateful for days like today when the weather is sunny but not intensely hot and a slight breeze brings fresh air. Students arrived with a sense of excitement to learn about knife safety and the art of carving! We started our morning with a fun, yet feisty game of Scramble which was a great way to get our blood flowing and ready for the day ahead. While some students chased and dodged bandana balls, others were inspired to explore the area digging for wild onions and swinging among the grapevines. After a few rounds, we switched gears and gathered together for a morning circle. There, we brought our minds together by introducing ourselves and why we wanted to take this class. Many expressed interest in wanting to learn how to carve spears while others wanted to learn how to use a knife safely. Once our minds were one, instructors spent time acting out the knife safety rules and agreements we follow here at Earth Native. In order to get certified, students must remember and follow these six important rules: 


T - TOOL NOT TOY. Knife-handling should be taken seriously and handlers of any age or skill level should treat your knife respectfully as a utilitarian item.


A - ALWAYS ASK PERMISSION. We require that knives stay zipped away in backpacks while they're not in use, and should a student want to use their knife we require that they first ask permission from an instructor. This allows us to maintain awareness of who is carving, particularly during free-time, and give us the opportunity to gauge the current situation to see if it's an appropriate time or place to be carving. 


B - Blood Bubble. We ask students to find a 'Blood Bubble' in which to safely carve. This is a circular area that they measure out, usually the stick that they plan to carve. This area should be clear of hazards and out of walkways to avoid possible accidents to both themselves and others. 


C - CARVE OFF OF AND AWAY FROM YOURSELF. We don't practice techniques that include carving towards your body, and also stress that you should never carve over your limbs or body. Particularly our thighs, hands and forearms, as these are areas that we may feel naturally inclined to brace a carving stick against. It can be tricky sometimes to find the correct posture for carving safely, but remembering this simple rule can help avoid high risk carving techniques. 


D - DON'T GET DISTRACTED. There can be lots of distractions from friendly conversations, excited exclamations, squirrels having fight in the tree overhead, or just an itch on your nose. Learning to keep your mind focused on the task at hand, and putting away your knife when you find your attention wandering will help to prevent accidents. 


E - END WITH A CLICK AND A ZIP. This is the last rule, and a reminder to safely put away our knives when we are done carving. When the Mora knife is sheathed properly it makes a light click, which should be followed by a zip from you replacing your knife in your backpack. By following this rule we're not leaving knives lying around, we're not losing any knives and we are caring responsibly for our belongings. 


After going over the rules and safety agreements, students spent one on one time with an instructor for certification. Everyone successfully passed their knife safety certification process (YAY!) by reciting the agreements and showing us that they can safely carve the bark off a stick. After students became certified, we all felt a little peckish, so we settled into lunch to refuel our bodies. 


After much anticipation it was finally time to practice our carving techniques! With rules in mind, students were given the option to carve a spoon, walking stick, or an item of their choosing. Those who wanted to learn how to carve a spoon went off with an instructor who taught them the fundamentals when carving spoons. They first started carving and shaping the handle of their spoon by carving away from the spoon bowl. They then worked on the neck which is a challenge of its own for it requires you to use the double-thumb technique. In no time, their spoon blanks began taking shape! Others were inspired to carve walking sticks where they practiced different carving techniques to decorate it, such as scoring the bark to carve intricate designs or adding a spear point at one end. Some practiced shaving the bark off a stick or using their knife to baton (split) a piece of cedar wood into smaller pieces which could be used as kindling for starting a fire. 


With a full day of carving, some of us agreed it was best to take a break and head down to the creek to explore with friends while others continued to work on their projects. Down by the creek, some of us spent time wading in the water, climbing up and sliding down a hill and collecting rocks. 


We ended our day by sharing something we had learned or our favorite part of the day. Thank you so much for joining us today. We had so much fun learning how to safely use our knives and exploring the art of carving! We hope to see you back on the land real soon! 


Until next time, 

Narissa, Dani, Sean and Julia