Media Prehistoria.com

Interpreting the past for the present

Workshops at the Woods

The Woods, my former home and teaching space, is located in rural Oglethorpe County, Georgia. It is once again the classroom area for Workshops at the Woods. Classes range from stone-age technologies to traditional woodcraft and wilderness skills, with occasional just-for-fun offerings. Unless otherwise noted, all classes are for adults.

Despite a general trend towards long-range 'curriculum' style wilderness programs, I have elected to offer free-standing individual courses. This allows participants to select classes that are of particular interest and relevance to them, or to fill specific areas of need. Also, this approach gives me flexibility to offer occasional classes tailored to the needs of archaeologists and other professionals. A small number of classes will be taught by guest instructors who are specialists in their respective fields.

Because the Woods is no longer our primary residence, the house and facilities will be available for overnight lodging for participants traveling long distances. At present, there is no set fee for this, but we will accept gratuities to cover housekeeping, utilities, and other overhead costs. While outfitted with many comforts, attendees will be responsible for providing food for the duration of their stay.


If you'd like to sign up for our workshop emails, click here.

Classes Spring-Summer 2017

Dormant Season Tree ID

Saturday 11 March 2017
9:30 a.m.-4:00 p.m.
Cost: $35/person

I really wanted to call this class "Winter Tree ID", but that would've involved only about a week back in December, and as I write this the red maples are already budding up to bloom. I'm forging ahead nonetheless, as I've had a number of requests for a class on tree identification in the absence of leaves, fruits, and other warm-season features. In this ramble, we will examine the subtlety of bark and buds of a variety of trees (and shrubs), with an emphasis on those of interest to woodworkers and carvers. Plan to return in May for the Plant Ramble to compare these specimens in leaf!

Registration is closed.

Cut Nail Tools

Saturday 22 April 2017
9:30 a.m.-4:00 p.m.
Cost: $40/person

One afternoon many years ago at a primitive skills event, I wandered into a class conducted by a fellow instructor. I was fascinated by both the simple setup and the highly effective end results, and I learned what I now regard as perhaps one of my most valuable semi-modern skills: making small, utilitarian tools from cut steel nails--the square-ish kind used in masonry and flooring. It involves introductory elements of blacksmithing in miniature, including forging, shaping, and tempering/hardening, all while using relatively easy-to-obtain tools and materials.

In this class, you will make one or more items including small spoon gouges, craft knives, and leather-working awls (the later of which will be of use for the knife sheath class in July). In addition to making wooden handles for your creations, we will also cover the bare-bones basics of hardening, tempering, and annealing. Participants should plan to bring a propane torch, gloves, a pair of (old) slip-joint pliers, and a household hammer, specifics provided upon registration. All other materials provided. I may opt to conduct this class at the Winterville residence.

Registration is closed.

Spring Wild Plant Intro: A Ramble

Saturday 20 May 2017
9:30 a.m.-4:00 p.m.
Cost: $40/person

Plants and plant communities are critical to the health and survival of virtually every organism. Even those with no known "use" can inform us about the overall condition of an ecosystem. Class will commence by examining the relationships between some familiar plants and their kin. Using this family-based approach to plant classification and identification, we’ll go afield to highlight specific plants and their uses for food, utility, and medicine. A wide range of uses will be covered, including fibers for cordage, technical properties of various woods (for tool handles, weaponry, digging sticks, etc.), desirability for firewood, and medicinal qualities of some common plants. We will also spend some time exploring the creek area for a discussion of the impact of native and non-native mammalian species on Piedmont ecosystems and flora. Other related activities will be included as time permits. As the title suggests, there will be walking involved in this class.

Registration is closed.

Basic Primitive Skills Intro: Fire, cordage, and sharp things.

Saturday 17 June 2017
9:30 a.m.-4:00 p.m.
Cost: $40/person

It is time once again to offer this course, which emphasizes a competent knowledge of fire, cordage, and edge tools as the core skill set for wilderness proficiency. This class will include a crash-course in learning how to produce and maintain a sharp edge from stone; identification and processing of suitable plant fibers, and how to turn these materials into 2- and 3-ply cordage; principles of combustion and how to set up a successful "3 minute" practice fire, lit with matches/lighters; and how to make fire with traditional flint-and-steel and the bow-drill. Please note: This is NOT a flintknapping course. The stone tool portion will focus exclusively on the simplest methods of producing sharp flakes, with a limited amount of pressure flaking for maintenance of cutting edges and flint fire-strikers.

Registration is closed.

Drop-In Style Knife Sheaths

Saturday 15 July 2017
9:30 a.m.-4:00 p.m.
Cost: $40/person

Knowing how to construct a quality knife sheath is a worthwhile and versatile skill. My method for making drop-in pouch-style sheaths for Moras (and other knives) lacking a prominent finger guard is relatively simple, and can be adapted to commonly available materials. It also requires few tools and little leather crafting experience. You will be able to pick from two variations on the sheath core (interior), depending upon your needs and interests: making a rolled rawhide interior, or using your plastic factory Mora sheath as the interior. In both cases, a soft leather (buckskin or chamois) cover will be stitched to create an attractive exterior and belt attachment. You will need a leather-working awl (as shown in the photo), which can be made in the "Cut Nail Tools" class. I am planning to have someone on site to sell braintan buckskin by the square foot at the class, or you may bring a commercial leather chamois. Email or message me if you have questions about the class or the suitability of your knife for this project.

Registration closes July 8th (in 12 days).

You can register online (and pay for the course) using this link: