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The Ground Shots Podcast

Sep 1, 2019

Episode #23 the Ground Shots Podcast features a conversation with Steven Edholm who homesteads outside of Ukiah, California.


Steven co-runs an educational land skills project called Paleotechnics with Tamara Wilder and a skills-based YouTube channel called Skillcult which focuses on axes, fruit trees, grafting, hide tanning, primitive fire making, making lime for the garden, among many other topics. Steven has been researching and teaching self-reliance skills for several decades.


Steven Edholm and Tamara Wilder co-wrote a book on brain-tanning buckskin. The book is currently out of print, but they hope to get the popular guide reprinted soon! It's one of my favorite guides to the art of naturally tanning animal skins. If you can get a hold of one, I HIGHLY recommend it. 


I housesat for Tamara Wilder for a short stint this past Spring. While on the homestead she shares with Steven, he and I sat down and recorded a conversation about bark tanning leather. It's a topic I'm really interested in and a skill I have taught a little bit over the years. It was a treat to chat with someone I consider an expert in the craft and ask them questions.




In this conversation with Steven, we talk about:


how natural bark tanning methods fell out of mainstream commerce


why naturally tanned bark tanned leather is superior to chemically tanned leather


Steven's history with various forms of hide tanning and reasons for getting into ancestral skills


the basics of how to bark/vegetable tan leather using plants (we get super geeky here!)


examples of possible plants to use in the leather making process


some botanical tannin science


troubleshooting bark tanning issues that come up


ideas for a sustainable closed loop natural tannery network that integrates the garden


why care about bark-tanning animal skins and other similar processes?


philosophy: we were made to interact with the natural environment – what is it to be human?


the importance of reviving old world craft processes


accepting that we are nature too, and being involved with handcrafts gives a sense of deep satisfaction



Steven Edholm's website:

Paleotechnic’s website:

Skillcult on Patreon:

Steven's free Youtube channel:

Lotta Rahme, Swedish author on bark-tanning leather mentioned on the the podcast:

info on sudden Oak death, a disease inflicting Oaks currently with possible devastating effects ecologically, mentioned in the podcast.

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The theme music for the podcast: 'Sweat and Splinters' by Mother Marrow

Interstitial music: ‘Strong Like Sinew’ by Pterodactyl Plains

Pterodactyl Plains on bandcamp :

Here's short film featuring Jessica Kilroy, one of the musicians behind Pterodactyl Plains, and a glimpse into the process behind the album ‘Creek Sessions’ from which ‘Strong Like Sinew’ comes. The album features sounds from open lands and natural soundscapes, while communicating the need for their protection. 

Watch here:

Produced by: Opia Creative