Charissa van Eijk Passionate archaeologist (MA) and craftswoman
Charissa is an enthusiastic and passionate archaeologist and cultural historian from the Netherlands. Her specialisation is in prehistoric archaeology from North-western Europe, but during her BA and MA studies she also focused on lectures in cultural anthropology, physical anthropology, medieval archaeology and more. Her approach to understanding the past is to both imaginatively and practically reconnect with the ways of the ancestors, wherever they may reside. She loves to go beyond dry facts in order to grasp the mind and heart ways of our ancestors by means of experimental archaeological projects. Her animistic worldview, as well as inspiration from folklore and ways of the wisdom keepers from traditional societies, inspire her own way.
For many years she has practiced ancestral skills and crafts, focussing mainly on textile and wool (weaving, tabletweaving, bandweaving, needlebinding, making felt, historical clothing, dyeing). She worked for many years teaching these skills at an archaeological open-air museum (prehistoric and early Middle Ages period) and has been a passionate re-enactor in Viking re-enactment living history.
The past is totally intertwined with her daily rhythms, and she happily daydreams and crafts herself into being, into life. Always being eager to explore and learn interesting crafts, tanning fish skin and making leather greatly appealed to her. She has explored this craft with heart, hands, and soul, seeking to go ever deeper in mastery and understanding. From beginning to end, the process seemed to blend with her textile crafts and wider interests in folklore, plantlore, animism, ancestral ways, and experimental archaeology. Tanning fish skin with bark, brains, eggs, urine is interesting and exciting, and yet inspired by the knowledge of plants of her partner Fergus, and their endless talks about tannin in plants (leaves, fruits, stems, roots), they started working outside the conventional “tanning box”. Wandering the land, they discovered many plant allies that wanted to bond with the soul of the salmon and shapeshift skin into leather. Tanning with plant leaves, fruits, stems, and roots produces beautiful colours and shades. The process of discovering the right recipe is extremely nourishing and the possibilities feel endless. Working in this way with plants is for her a way to connect deeper with the spirit of a plant, the land and the spirit of the related fish/salmon. Besides exploring the tanning possibilities of plants, she is also eager to create and craft with all the beautiful leather that comes into being, from small pouches and earrings to cloths and rucksacks.
Inspiration comes from archaeology, traditional societies, and her own creative waters. Blending the salmon leather with her textile crafts to see what is born during the crafting process is what she loves. Besides working with salmon leather, she and Fergus are trying to fish in different ways to catch other interesting fish species for tanning and leather making. They fish in the sea and fresh waters of the UK and the Netherlands to give reality to this wish/dream. They always work with respect, and in deep connection with all the plants and fish that come across their path.
Learn more about me @craeftychaga on instagram
Fergus DrennanFergus the Forager
Wild food experimentalist, course faciliator, forager, the ever-curious Fergus Drennan, aka Fergus The Forager, has been gathering and learning about wild plants, seaweeds, and fungi for over 40 years, beginning on Wimbledon Common, aged 3 years, collecting dandelions for the family’s pet tortoise. Since those early days, and through much creative and experimental exploration he has continued his foraging practice, not only as a means to understand and to discover the practical relevance that foraging has in the modern developed world, but also in terms of what it means to be an environmentally conscious human in relation to the natural world. “Can foraging ever be considered a truly sustainable practice, and if so how?”, is a question that always orchestrates his foraging activity, as does a pursuit of foraging’s playful and creative possibilities, whether they be found in novel recipes using plants, fungi, and seaweeds, or unlocking the possibilities that wild botanicals offer for other non-food-based creative pursuits. That includes, among other things, the making of baskets, mushroom paper, and natural dyes and pigments. Fergus has a huge amount of wild food knowledge to share, and an array of imaginative ways of doing so. After even only an afternoon with him, the natural world around you will never look the same again.