Tag Archives: Nomadic Crafts

On the Other Side of The Yurt Makers’ Heart: The Libra Yurt is born.

The Libra Yurt is Born: the next yurt of The Zodiac Tent.

Having been clearing and flattening the site all summer long, a lot of the ground was bare and the new grass has not caught yet, so we were worried that an increase in rain will turn the site into a mud bath. We spent a few weeks getting the place up and together with the help of some friends and relations: we first made a large workshop area near the Zodiac Tent site.

Workshop space

Next thing we rigged up the tents again: the Scorpio yurt was up all summer long, but we had taken the Sibley tent down (its a type of hanging tipi) so that had to go up again.

Luckily we had some friends to visit just in time, and it was lots of fun putting it all up, and it  felt like the event was already on.

The Sibley tent is a tent we made earlier this year, it is traditionally pitched with a tripod, under which one has an open fire, but we just hang it from a friendly oak.

sibley and yurt

Sibley Tent and Yurt pitched for the event


Sibley Tent

The last tent to go up was the latest addition to the Baker Tent Family, the ‘Kitchen Tent’, which is a double sized Baker Tent.

kitchen tent

The Kitchen Tent

So, the group  arrived,  a few of the participants had already made a yurt before, and one friend was a professional yurt maker.

Breakfast in front of the Majella

Breakfast in front of the Majella

Everybody where keen to get into it, we started the week by going into the forest and cutting poles.

tammy cutting poles

Tammy cutting ash poles

We than started the peeling and steaming process, every body getting into peeling and shaping rafters, tying trellis poles, and glueing the wheel.

busy bees

Busy Bees

All through we were introducing group work and inner focus, but with little emphasis so not to make it too emotional for the group. However it seemed, at times, that there was so much people were going through because of the ‘open psychic space’ around, and working together out in nature. at one point an Israeli participant even commented, “wow where is all this emotionality coming from I thought we came here to make a yurt”! (He was just joking, trying to keep things light).

The community making process, was taking place and it was interesting to see the group going through the motions, how the first high of coming together was replaced by disillusion and how harder feelings started coming up, it was amazing to witness some of the things people went through. The weather mirrored this process with more rain than we’d had all the summer in a couple of days. The collective mud-bath did bring the group together.

Campsite in rain

Campground in rain

At one point it seemed the whole gathering was falling apart, but that too was part of the community making process, than out of that harder space something amazing started to bloom, a real sense of togetherness. Seeing people pitch in, working until the evening making the yurt parts, sharing the fire-heated bath water, and more than all some real life change was starting to take place in all it was the perfect balance. We were afraid the rain would be too much, or the winds, or that being so far out in nature without comforts, mobile phones or chocolate would prove hard, but it wasn’t. (The food came out more than amazing,  with 3 meals a day cooked on the fire!)

It proved that group process work could be maintained simply by intent, and our job was simply to hold the process and the place together.

in the wheel

Happy Yurt makers, after steaming the yurt wheel

There is simply too much to say and the inner processes that took place are too private to share here, but it was a deep experience seeing a little tribe form and go through it together facing the elements together, at moments even crying together.

Face in the element

Face in the (watery) element

In a way some of the best things to come out were the resolutions people came up with at the end. We got some amazing thank you’s, and were told by one woman that it was a life changing experience and she has decided to up it and go into a new life within the year, that coming back home after all the nature was trying.

At one point in the middle of this gathering we were sitting by the fire, and Lucy said we need to look for an omen to find out which sign this yurt will represent. With the Scorpio Yurt, we had a clear sign when a Scorpion crawled out of one of the door posts whilst it was being made.) Her feeling was that this yurt was the Libra yurt as this gathering started as the Sun moved into Libra on the Autumn Equinox, going until the Super Harvest Moon Eclipse the night before the yurt went up. As she said it, we were all outside looking at the sky for Libra and there was a collective gasp as a shooting star shot through the sky. We knew this one was the Libra yurt.

Libra Yurt next to Scorpio Yurt

Libra Yurt next to Scorpio Yurt

yurt makers

Yurt Makers (with T-shirts)

Here is an article by Dayana Piccoli, who participated in the event,  in ‘Chi si dicie’, the magazine of Torricella Peligna, our local town. Amidst the pages of town history and rural life,  Dayana’s article (page 17) shines through, and says much of what I was gonna share here, and a little more! Better polish your Italian.

Contact us if you are interested in participating in a similar event. We are also starting to look for people that want to get involved on a more regular basis, help with the work while living in nature for longer periods, or even help us run events.

And here is a little Video that shows some nice moments from the gathering.

Of water and the spirit (making overland camper water tanks)

The making of an overland camper water tank: we have been doing a little series of blog entries about nomadic fire and water, the titles of which we borrowed from the name of that great book.

This one is going to be about how to make a hot water system to run from the engine of the truck, to heat up the drinking water. The main problem with having water tanks on living trucks is that if you have them outside they freeze in the winter, and as we tend to be journeying through some cold fronts for some reason, and as we always end up having serious snow in winter, we decided that this time around we will have a heated water tank. It means we can de-ice the tank very quickly so we can use it in deep cold, but also that if we run the system whilst driving we can have a very hot shower the other side.

Again like in the stove design we have shared this is my personal design, but it is an adaptation from a pattern taught to me by a fellow nomad that has spent considerable time building live-in trucks.


4x4 camper water tank

Stainless steel water tank

The first step is to find or make a suitable tank, stainless steel of course is best. Next you need to make a hole at the bottom and drive a stainless steel pipe or coil (preferred) this must be welded shut so it is not open and the water running through it does not interact with the drinking water.

Overland camper water tank

Hole for heat element

Overland camper water tank

Heat element pipe through tank

overland camper water system

Heat Element welded with stainless steel wire

At the end of the pipe there are connectors for the water pipes, so if you are still unclear, the water running through this new pipe is the radiator water so it is not drinking water and should never mix with the tank water, next step is to make brackets on your truck.

overland camper brackets

Water tank brackets made

Put the tank in, and connect the pipes.

Mercedes overland camper water tank

Water tank in place

Mercedes 814 4x4 hot water system

pipes and valves

Next and last thing is to split the radiator pipes in two places (you can use the heater pipes) and run them to the the tanks. Make sure to put valves in the pipes so you can shut them off, because you don’t always want to be boiling your drinking water, nor even heat it in those hot summery days.

Of Fire and of Spirits Intent

This Entry will be the last Entry out of a series of three that show how to make an excellent gas bottle stove.In the last two we got the stove cut and welded together.In this on we will focus on putting the chimney on, the bottom door and the air vent mechanism.We will finish with how to make and put the door latches on.

Step 15 (counting from last time)- using your welder on its highest setting cut the hole for the chimney.

Step 16- weld the chimney in place

Step 17 – cut the bottom door and mark the cut out for air vent, cut the air vents shutters.

Step 18 – cut runners for the shutter flaps. This is a two layer operation and is made out of two layers of steel. The first are like runners for the flaps to run along, the second holds the flaps from coming out. The first must be made from the same thickness steel as the flaps or they will be either too loose, or would not move in their tracks.

Step 19 – draw a couple of little hearts.

Step 20 – cut the hearts out (sounds mean).

Step 21 – Weld hearts on flaps and all together to form the air shutters.

 Step 22 – cut strips for the door latches.

 Step 23 – drill hole for bolt and weld backside, and beat the Latches into shape, weld the latch holders into position, apply more stove paint and ….. viola ….. the double heart stove is made.


gas bottle stove gas bottle stove

gas bottle stove vent stove metal hearts IMG_0753gas bottle stove IMG_0755 gas bottle stove and yurt

Of Fire and the Spirit or Stove Making Part 2

This is the second episode of Nomadic stove making, in which we will continue to show how to make a fabulous stove from an old gas bottle, the design for this stove having been thought of by an old friend of mine when he used to live on the road.

I think this is is a great design, and although for every truck we build we like to create  a new design of stove, we are re-visiting this one for old times sake.

The last episode of stove making saw us up to step 7 when we welded the top of the stove on, and cut the door openings.

So Step 8 – cut the spare metal off the top of the stove plate, using your welder on its top setting….. yes this is actually possible, and probably how plasma cutters were thought of. If the Goddess of love is confused again with all the technical stuff, basically welding on highest settings burns through the metal, and can be used as a way to cut the metal plate instead of angle grinding.


Step 9 – discard the excess (note the angle grinder versus welder cutter methods used)


Step 10 – take the (pre-cut) long strips for the grill, and weld together (note the central plate, this is useful so the morning kindling does not fall through).

IMG_0728Step 11 – round it upIMG_0729

Step 12 – weld the grill into place between the door openings and, repeating steps 7-9, weld the bottom piece on.


Step 13 – weld the top door into place with some steel hinges.


Step 14 – weld some nice legs on the sides





Of Water and the Spirit

The above title is of a book I would love to recommend everyone (and the goddess of love especially) to read. My favourite bit is of how the author’s grandfather’s funeral supper gets cooked on the celling, with the cooks being upside down!.

We will borrow the title style for this entry and call it “Of Fire and Of Water”  to do a little a series of tutorials in nomadic fire and water.

The other day we decided that as we now see the road rising towards us again, it is time to make a stove for our 4×4 overland camper. As we like to make things hard we decided to make a water tank for it the at the same time.

We will however start with the stove here, so this will be a tutorial in how to make a gas bottle stove to heat up your heart.

Step one, find a gas bottle and cut to size. IMG_0930   Step two cut door openings IMG_0934   Step three, cut some extra pieces for doors, and for the top and bottom.IMG_0927 Step four,  using your crane flatten up the top and bottom pieces. IMG_0928 Step five and, beat the flattened pieces even flatter with a hammer (also useful for those without cranes). IMG_0929 Step six, get someone else to cut long strips of metal from an old chassis for the grill. IMG_0933 Step seven, while that someone else does the hard work, quickly weld the top on.IMG_0935

Nomadic Dreaming workshops

Because we have moved so much in the past. And because I don’t like having a fully kitted workshop sitting about just waiting for that occasional piece of woodwork.

We keep a nomadic workshop, even when we are in one place for a while, it’s a minimalist approach that teaches us to make do and improvise.

This is how we make yurt frames.


Our gas fire

We use every day objects that you can get anywhere in the world. A gas bottle and a land drain pipe for steaming the yurt frame elements.


hmmmm that actually works really well


we love cranes

We suspend the whole rig from our crane (another every day item found anywhere).


Yurt wall jig

Three posts in the ground as jig (ok all yurt makers use this very same rig, even the ones who have workshops)

You get the gist it’s not only that we make nomadic structures we make things as if in on the move n.

Instead of having a shaving horse (another thing that takes space) I use a bit of string and two poles.

It’s a minimalist approach, like Cody Lundin (from dual survival) who walks barefoot to teach his feet to endure and to learn to walk slow , I think one should not spoil oneself with workshops, having another house to house the tools you use to build houses means you need two for each one.

Ok enough with the minimal brain wash


improvised shaving horse

Making yurts is a very special art, it should not really work, we use green wood which is unheard of for final wood fabrication, as wood needs seasoning.

The secret is that in some magical way (fortunate for us nomads without storage space) steaming leaches the wood out and brings the fibres closer together so after a few days the wood is seasoned!!!! It usually takes half a year at least the normal way.

This means that yurt making is good craft for nomads I guess, how lucky for them, as i hate to think what they would have to do otherwise, the truth is that people always knew how to do things quickly.

I decided to try and apply the same leaching and binding properties to other wood work elements to make them more nomadic too.

People carve green wood bowls all the time, you have to use green wood I guess unless you have a power lathe, or some very sharp tools, that part is true to all.

But the bowls need to be seasoned for quite a while, I don’t believe in that, I’m an instant kind of person.
I carve and eat out of the same bowl …… on the same day.


Broad axe


Crooked knife


Done deal

But because there is a reason behind why some like it slow.
That truth is that some of my bowls have cracked because I don’t like it slow enough, so they don’t season and all the wet/dry stuff that comes from bowl life is to much to bear.

The magical answer came to me the other day, why not use the same method to nomadically season the wood.
So I boiled the bowl (just like I steam the ash poles for the yurt walls) the amount of tanin that came out of the oak was formidable, I think the secret is in that leaching the wood out, and driving all the air out of the vessels (pores) one “seasons” wood much quicker. Although I can’t fully figure all the ins and outs of why.

I could see the little air bubbles coming out the end of the pores in The wood, which meant to me that the hot water is in effect flushing it all out.

This is another way in which those who don’t like it slow, don’t like wood working workshops (but like cranes) and can’t wait for their wood to season do things, some like it ……. now.

The advantage is that it does not take much to create a home (or yurt) and make the things you need in it, all in a days work.


Boiling my bowl for dinner

Some tribal societies ended up using their spare time for dreaming, because it only took them few days to build their homes, and 20 minutes or so to gather food to eat, that left a whole lot of time to have collective dreaming projects, This is my cup of tea, and the reason why some like it quick is because they need to leave time for dreaming.

A poorman’s vice, or hands for feet

We decided it was time to start eating out of wood, so I went to make some bowls for us.

Carving wood is in my blood I guess, (sometimes I give it blood too). Anyway I never liked using workshop tables or vices for holding the piece Im working with, I remember being asked when I moved into a community years ago, by one of the man, If I would help him build his workshop, he said I can have my own table in it. I said I use my feet to hold the piece I’m working on.

Ive been told my feet are like hands they are so broad.


Poor man’s vice


Hands for feet


Broad axe for rounding the corners


I love heavy tools, the axe I should be using is probably a quarter of the size


Carving is in my blood, and my blood is in the carving


Crooked knife for bowl inside


Another bowl and spoon quickly done


The Elves got to eat out of wood


The elf queen’s bowl




The day the earth unfroze

The summer came straight out of winter, the earth unfroze, and we pitched our (first made) baker tent.20130405_141918

The earth started thawing, so the north wind went to live outside.


Writing bushcraft blog

The earth liked the north wind so much we all moved out, and as it was time for making open fires, I decided to do something about the big axe, here is a little tutorial of how to put an axe handle on.


Air dried ash, adze, draw knife, and axe head


Axe handle whittled down


Blank into head, little space at sides


Handle wedge groove cut


Driving the wedge


A little oil on handle


Shavings for fire


Making flat bread


Baker tent…… baked

Dinner on the unfrozen earth, and bushcraft blog entry written in baker tent.