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The Boazu Bag - Ice Raven - Sub Zero Adventure - Copyright Gary Waidson, All rights reserved.

Boazu Bag.

A reindeerskin ditty bag.

I was once told that real  craftsmanship is invisible. That might seem counter intuitive but what  he meant was that most people that see it would never be aware of the  work that went into making it, they should simply admire the object  itself.

I get that and though I tend to look at things with a craftsman's eye even I can often underestimate a seemingly simple object.

Continuing the theme of using up my  supply of scrap reindeer hide, I decided to use a mixture of off cuts  including part of a back section that was badly fly bitten to make a  small ditty bag.

There is a species of warble fly that  lays eggs on the reindeer and the maggots emerge later from the skin  usually along the back leaving holes in the hide. The leather round the  flanks is usually still good though and the worst affected hides are  cheaper to buy but the backs are usually only useful for thronging.

In this case I wanted to adapt a  design I had used on the Ditty Bag I made a couple of years back which  has a flexible dividing system in it which I find very useful.

The inner dividers here are made with  the scabby back leather but the holes do not affect their purpose or  appearance tucked away inside the bag.

The tricky seams - Ice Raven - Sub Zero Adventure - Copyright Gary Waidson, All rights reserved.

However, sometimes you get an idea into your head and think "I haven't seen that done before."

In this case the idea was to use the  edges of the dividers to provide the piping between the panels. A  combining the decoration with the attachment. Neat, efficient and simple I thought...

In reality it became one of those jobs that an extra set of fingers would have been very helpful for. 

Three pieces of leather, one folded  over to make the piping all needing precise alignment while piercing  with an awl for the saddle stitching. Not really in a position that is  clamp-able, although I never normally use a pony anyway, and the way the layers are laid out means that you can only ever see two edges at a  time. Other leather workers will have some idea of how challenging that  was.

The piping also resulted in seam  joints bringing eight pieces of leather together in twelve layers on a  turned internal seam which required very complicated stitch  arrangements.

I have made some tricky items over the years but this was, quite surprisingly, the most complex construction I can remember.

I suspect that may be why I've never seen it done this way before.

I think I must have use just about  every technique I have learned over thirty odd years working with  leather and possibly invented a couple of new tricks in the process.

The Boazu Bag loaded up - Ice Raven - Sub Zero Adventure - Copyright Gary Waidson, All rights reserved.

Never the less, I'm pleased with the  end result. Most people looking at the bag would never see or understand the work that went into making it, which is just as it should be and  therefore matches the description in the first line.

The divider system is based upon the  layout of a re-usable shopping bag I noticed. It had simple bottle  holders that could be used or just folded out of the way so that the  full compartment was still available.

Someone asked me recently why I've  taken to naming so many of my pieces of craftwork? The simple answer is  that I've now got so many items that I've made that it is becoming more  difficult to identify them in planning lists


I used to be able to just say the big one or the little one. Then came the long one and the wide one. Some items  could be identified by materials or colours. Others I could identify by where they were made but even that soon started to blur. 

It might seem like a strange problem to have, an embarrassment of riches as it were but naming them has  become the latest way to categorise the collection.

In many ways it is a firming up of the relationship you often develop with an object when you make it. The longer you work on something the closer that relationship generally  becomes.

While making this I started thinking about the all reindeer that went into it's production.

I counted leather from at least six  different hides. A sledge team that even Santa would be proud of. The addition of another with the embroidered symbol makes seven I suppose  but it seemed right to commemorate them somehow.

"Boazu" is the simplest word the Sámi  have for reindeer. There are about 200 other terms from what I gather but the alliterative nature of the word combined with "Bag" seemed a good fit in my mind, so there you have it. "Boazu Bag". Short, distinct but quite fitting.

The Boazu Bag and The Boreal Bag - Ice Raven - Sub Zero Adventure - Copyright Gary Waidson, All rights reserved.

This makes a nice pair with the Boreal Bag I made last week for the Kittilä trip next year. The brass shackles are for hanging the bag on a line to keep it up out  of the snow on camp.

Here you can see it hanging in the Snow Shed using snap rings for convenience.

It can still be opened and sorted through in this position but doesn’t take up surface space for storage.

Sub Zero Crew - Bushcraft UK

Unless noted otherwise, all photography, artwork and content on this site is copyrighted. © Gary Waidson 2020 All rights reserved

The Ice Raven Project promotes sustainable and low impact bushcraft and wilderness skills in Arctic and winter conditions. This includes the use of  tents, tarps  and snow shelters where possible. Fires are only used where safe and where use and collection of firewood will not damage the natural environment. We often travel to locations by public transport and then use snowshoes, sleds, toboggans and pulks to transport our equipment into the wilderness.