Supplies for the Urban Abo

by Chuck Kritzon



For those of us who desire to learn and practice primitive skills, but live in an urban environment, sometimes finding materials can be a problem. Eight years of facing this problem has led to seeking creative alternatives to obtaining these materials. The idea is to learn the skills. The real materials will appear as you pursue your interests. Below I share what I have found.



Wood, sticks, leaves, bark, seeds, fiber, nuts, vines, moss, bamboo, sap, fungus, gourds, corn husks, galls, reeds, seaweed.
For: Fire making, light, heat, cordage, food, medicine, weapons, shafts, containers, basketry, shelter, soap, poison, glue, clothing, toys, pigments, dyes, abrasives, musical instruments, clothing, footwear.

Flint, obsidian, cobbles, pebbles, slate, sandstone, concrete, pigments, soapstone, lava, asphaltum (tar), ceramics, glass, salt.
For: Knapping, grinding, sanding, pecking, cutting, drilling, engraving, straitening, painting, cooking, sealing, gluing, cooking, heating, weights, charmstones.

Bone, horn, antler, hoof, shell, teeth, claws, sinew, tendon, hide, fur, hair, quills, feathers, meat, brains, wool, fat, oil, blood, quills, intestines, eyes, bladders, stomachs, dung.
For: Tools, ornaments, tanning, clothing, footwear, containers, cordage, binding, food, medicine, abrasives, musical instruments, light, pitch.

Bodies, cocoons, larvae, excrement, nests, pollen.
For: Dyes, food, fiber, musical instruments, wax.

Meats, seeds, nuts, roots, corms, fruits, berries, pollens, bark, greens, bark, insects, sugars.
For: Food.

BBQ, hibachi, kitchen stoves and ovens, hot plates, candles, fondue pots, molchahete.
For: heating, melting, straightening, gluing, cooking.

Hide glue (gelatin), asphaltum (tar), pine sap (pitch), beeswax, fish eyes, soaproot.




1. CATALOGS: See attached list.
2. INTERNET: Ebay, Suppliers of all kinds.
3. NETWORKING - FRIENDS AND RELATIVES: Materials from different geographic areas.

Here is a list of materials and items I have acquired from friends and networking:
Cedar and birch bark, basswood fiber, coir, braintan buckskin, braintan buffalo hide, whole deerskin rawhide sheets, horse hair, true tinder fungus, pine nuts, dogbane, yucca leaves, shells, deer hides, deer antlers, caribou antlers, horns, misc. lithic materials (flint, chert, obsidian, steatite, alabaster, fossil coral, dinosaur fossils), bamboo, gourds, misc. baskets and basketry materials, points, scrapers, beads, mammoth and fossil walrus ivory, feathers, bird skins, domestic and international pigment material samples, deer bones, skulls and teeth, buffalo bones, bird bones, misc. friction fire materials, basswood fiber, arrows, darts, bow staves, wood fired primitive ceramics (bowls, beads, ornaments), wonderful books, arrow plane, misc. other tools, knives, many, many directions to materials gathering sources, friendship and encouragement to keep learning!



1. Auto parts: Chamois leather
2. Glass suppliers: Broken and scrap plate glass for knapping.
3. Stained glass: Hide glue used in glue chipping glass.
4. Home and garden supplies: Rocks (sandstone, flint, obsidian, cobbles), bamboo, cedar shingles, split cedar fence posts and fence boards, #4 copper wire for flintknapping tools, diatomaceous earth, hardwood dowels, plants.
5. Craft stores: Feathers, leather, shells, beeswax, soapstone, moss, fiber (raffia), reeds, bamboo.
6. Pet stores: Rawhide, hooves, shells.
7. Import stores: Primitive tools, shells, hand made fiber and crafts.
8. Spinning and weaving supplies: Raw unspun fiber, flax, wool, hemp, natural dyes.
9. Lapidary supplies: Obsidian, flint, tools.
10. Ceramic supplies: Clays, pigments.
11. Restaurant supplies: Shells, wooden ware, cochineal dye.
12. Roofing supplies: Asphalt \ tar, cedar shake shingles.
13. Antique shops: Old tools, horn, antler.


1. Flea markets / Swap meets: Antler, horn, shell, bone, hides, teeth, antique tools, tanned leather.
2. Taxidermists: Mammal / bird hides and parts (bones, feathers, claws, etc.).
3. Construction / demolition sites: Trees (bark, roots, sap, leaves, vines, nuts/ cones, needles), concrete, johnstone, roofing tar.
4. Butchers: Bone, sinew, brains, intestines, bladders, deer hides and parts.
5. Animal Control Facilities: Euthanized animals
6. Parks and ponds: Duck and goose feathers, tree trimmings (bark, roots, sap, leaves, vines, nuts/ cones, needles).
7. Landfills / dumps: Tree trimmings (bark, roots, sap, leaves, vines, nuts/ cones, needles), concrete.
8. Arboretum / plant collections: Exotic and native trimmings, seed, nuts, etc.
9. City / county maintenance yards: Tree trimmings (bark, roots, sap, leaves, vines, nuts / cones, needles) concrete, pallets.
10. Drainage ditches: Willow, cat tails, tules, reeds, roadkill (collecting roadkill is illegal in many states! Check your local laws before collecting any roadkill!).
11. Loading docks: Broken oak pallets
12. Roads and highways: Roadkill (collecting roadkill is illegal in many states! Check your local laws before collecting any roadkill!), miscellaneous plant materials (bark, roots, sap, leaves, vines, nuts / cones, needles).

Here is a list of materials I have acquired at flea markets and thrift stores, butchers and gem and mineral shows: 20 square feet of tanned deerskin from an old chair, elk hide capote with leggings and lined with sheepskin, dozens of deer antlers, moose antlers, kangaroo hide, donkey hide, rabbit skin, beaver teeth, deer bones, emu leg bones and skin, drawshave, handmade cordage in the form of a hammock from Africa, emu eggshell, stone, shell, and bone beads, stone mortar and pestle, seeds, shells, plants, knives, wool blankets, sheepskins, fox hides, tanned cowhide and pigskin in the form of bags, boots, coats, upholstery, rawhide in the form of dog chews, extinct cave bear teeth, amber, porcupine hair, cow skull, horse skull.



1. Primitive Skills Gatherings
2. Black powder / mountain man gatherings
3. Pow wows
4. Living history / State Historic Parks
5. Gem and Mineral shows


A few samples of catalogs that supply primitive skills materials:

Moscow Hide and Fur
Provide: Antlers, horns, buckskin, leather, feathers, skulls, bones, teeth, claws, beads, taxidermy supplies and more.

Stroudsburg Fur and Leather
Provide: Tanned fur and hides, bones ,skulls, beads, shells, taxidermy supplies.

Lietzau Taxidermy
No web address.
Furs and hides, Trade era finished bags, books, sweetgrass, booklets, knives, small tools, buttons, clothing, trade silver, claws, teeth, bones, etc.

Karamat Wilderness Ways
Provide: Moose and buffalo hide, bones, skulls. Drums, rattles and supplies. Replicas, baskets, miscellaneous supplies.

Tandy Leather
Provide: Leather crafting tools and supplies. Rawhide, lacing, beads, hides, dyes.

The Caning Shop
Provide: supplies for caning, wicker and basketry. Gourds and gourd crafting. Lots of natural materials.

Kestrel Tools
Provide: Fine carving tools for northwest coast carving. Crooked Knives, straight knives, and adzes. Also holds carving classes at their wonderful shop on Lopez Island in the San Juan Islands!


Websites that are good resources:
The ultimate native american skills and crafts info site.
This page offers a long list of links that are worthwhile exploring.


Don't give up! There is a world of materials to learn and practice primitive skills out there. The more you focus and look, the more will come your way! Good hunting!


NOTE: Get permission to collect and gather before obtaining materials from parks, ponds, city / county maintenance yards or private property. Also collecting roadkill is illegal in many states! Check your local laws before collecting any roadkill. Be informed of any laws and regulations in your area before gathering or purchasing supplies.



E-mail your comments to "Chuck Kritzon" at

Urban Resources

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