“Life’s a pitch, and then you buy” (Billy Mays)

There are some primitive skills (like fiction fire) that are difficult to master and others (like making pitch) that are satisfyingly straightforward.

pitchIn the past pitch was used for all sorts of purposes – attaching arrow heads or the split feathers used for flights onto the arrow shaft, for fixing the tang of a blade into a wooden handle, for waterproofing and strengthening fine cordage used for bindings, fixing cracks in wood (e.g. in the hull of a boat or a wooden bowl)….or any other purpose that required binding or waterproofing.

In the jungle it is relatively easy to find the essential ingredient (tree resin) as many of the trees here produce it to heal damaged bark (e.g. when a branch falls off) and I often come across lumps of it on lying on the ground (usually close to the tree trunk).

These days, of course, we take glues for granted and there is a range of types to choose from depending on what materials we are trying to glue together, but in the past people had to be more inventive.  One type of glue that the Orang Asal use is the amazingly sticky pulp inside the Terap tree fruit.  They will smear some of this onto a tree branch and wait for some unsuspecting bird to land on the branch.  The glue isn’t strong enough to hold the claws of the bird but as it tries to fly away its wings get stuck to the branch and the more it struggles the more stuck it gets.

In this video I show you how I make pitch: I use a method that has the advantage of being very easy and quick.  There are other more refined methods that produce better quality pitch but I find the pitch produced by the method I use to be good enough for the jobs I want to do with it.