Learn a Pioneer Skill – Pioneer Life in the 21st Century, Part 5

By Ebony Porter, May 18, 2017, Energy Efficiency, Events & Fun, Family

Pioneer times were tough, and we would never suggest life without modern plumbing, refrigeration, or electricity! But with the fast pace of modern life, some folks have decided to learn skills from bygone eras. This includes purchasing local products made closer to home with more care and quality materials, unhooking from technology, and embracing homesteading. In our Pioneer Life in the 21st Century series, we’ll help you embrace a few pioneer-like actions, create mindful moments, and perhaps save a few bucks, whether you live in an apartment in the city or a planned community in the suburbs.

There’s a resurgence in our culture of people from all walks of life looking to learn crafts and skills from a bygone era.

As a response, experts and passion driven folks all across the country are offering workshops, classes over a course of a weekend, and full week-long intensives to learn about everything from homesteading to shoe making to dyeing fabric using bugs, plants and minerals.

You can also of course learn a new skill by watching a few YouTube videos or reading a tutorial to get the gist of making a new craft. The web is host to thousands of ingredients and materials to get you going, and into the pioneer life in no time.

Check out these ideas on how you can turn back the clock to learn a skill that takes time and patience, and results in something truly rewarding. Throughout the process you might discover a new hobby. Most of these old skills embrace environmentally friendly practices, too.

Learn a Pioneer Skill - Pioneer Life in the 21st Century, Part 5 | Bounce Energy Blog

Pouring Candles

Nothing smells as sweet as a burning beeswax candle. Free from synthetic perfumes, burning bees wax purifies the air, and provides a slow burn and warm glow.

While a class will help you learn the process faster, it’s easy enough to dive in on your own. Purchase a block of bees wax in bulk, alongside some molds, appropriately sized wicks, and a double burner pot to melt your wax in.

Be sure to bring your wax into a melting state slowly so as not to burn or boil it. A double boiler will help you avoid burning the wax. Slowly and carefully pour your candles once you have your wicks and molds set in place. Once you make your own, we guarantee you’ll never want to buy a store bought candle again!

Naturally Dyeing Fabrics

Fabrics dyed with minerals, bugs and plants lend a color wheel that is subtle yet rich in tone and hues.

What is most magical about learning to naturally dye your own fabric is you can use scrap materials from your kitchen and garden, and you eliminate the use of synthetic dyes that the market is flooded with.

Natural dyes are all that was available 150 years ago, and if you’ve seen textiles from this time period, you know that the color lasts, albeit faded a little.

Gathering onion skins, marigolds that have lost their luster, or old avocado skins are just a few ways to utilize waste to create color in your cotton, hemp and linen items. While a class would help you gain the confidence faster to begin exploring this medium, you can dive right in this weekend by designating a large stainless steel pot, filling it with the aforementioned dye-stuffs (materials), and gently boiling them until natural dye is released. Strain and allow your fabrics to soak in the solution overnight. The longer the better. Gently rinse in cool water, and enjoy!

Learn a Pioneer Skill - Pioneer Life in the 21st Century, Part 5 | Bounce Energy Blog

Make Your Own Body Natural Products

I took a workshop on this a few weeks ago and it was incredible to make products that are safe for the environment, and most importantly, safe for my family and children!

Gather ingredients online, or head to your local health store to pick up items like shea butter, mango butter, apricot oil, beeswax, coconut oil, and your preferred essential oils. Each recipe differs, so decide on what you want to make and go from there.

Make sure you have sterile jars to store your product in, and designate the pitchers and pots you use for making product only. Spend an afternoon with friends measuring and mixing to make a six month supply of body butter or lip gloss. Once you try it, you won’t purchase store bought product loaded with chemicals and preservatives ever again!


Sign up for a class to learn from a professional how to cut meats, and which part of the animal is used for what. We often blindly walk into grocery stores and choose cuts of meat when we aren’t clear on which part of the animal it comes from.

A class in butchering will help educate you on what you’re eating, and maybe give you a deeper look into the world of eating high quality meats, purchased from a local farmer raising their animals in wide open pastures.

Learn a Pioneer Skill - Pioneer Life in the 21st Century, Part 5 | Bounce Energy Blog

Handwork Skills

Handwork includes knitting, crocheting, and other fiber art skills like hand quilting. In a world of computers, commuting, stress, and information overload, the adoption of a handwork of your choice let’s time slow down and gives you a moment to decompress and use a skill that connects your hands to your brain, which has so many benefits.

Head to your local senior center and participate in a quilter’s bee to learn the skills of quilting or knitting. You might find a few new friends!

It’s also handy to know how to work with a needle and thread for sewing buttons that have popped off your clothing or mending holes.

Are you a beer brewer, a maker of kombucha, or a builder of furniture? Share with us what your pioneer skills are, or what you might be looking to embrace soon.

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Born in Australia, Ebony has been in Texas long enough to consider herself a Texan-Aussie. Ebony has been writing for magazines, newspapers, and blogs, for more than 10 years. When she's not writing she's building quilts, growing her own food, or camping with her family somewhere far from the sounds of the city.

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