Several books authored by W. Ben Hunt (Walter Bernard Hunt) also known as “Whittlin’ Jim” grace my bookshelves. Each one offers a rich journey into Native American arts and performance, woodworking, whittling, scoutcraft, pioneering, jewelry making, metalworking and calligraphy.
Native of Greenfield in Milwaukee County, Hunt was born in 1888 in the log cabin his father built. He dropped out of high school to take a job engraving lithographs and went on to become a noted artist and illustrator. Hunt’s books are illustrated with his own inspirational and practical drawings; just try looking at one without wanting to make the project it describes. Hunt shares his encyclopedic knowledge of traditional skills in a simple, direct way that engenders confidence.
He wrote and illustrated many articles for Boy’s Life magazine. Under the name ‘Whittlin’ Jim’ Hunt authored the terrifically popular feature ‘Slide of the Month’ still republished from time to time.
I have successfully attempted many of Ben Hunt’s projects and techniques. The best way to access some of his work is by buying used copies of his books, a few remain in print
How to Build and Furnish a Log Cabin – One of Hunt’s early books
The Complete How-To Book of Indiancraft – A favorite of mine; you’ll have to buy a used copy. Some of the information in this book has been republished as ‘Native American Survival Skills’ but the publisher has rearranged, re-cropped and colorized some of the drawings – I think it’s no where near as good as the original.
American Indian Beadwork – one of the best on the subject
One of Whittlin’ Jim’s slides of the month.
Another article from Boy’s Life on a folding Buck saw.
Thanks for writing this – I was always a fan of W. Ben Hunt when I was a kid, and checked out his books from the library over and over – there was something about his detailed style of illustration that appealed to me and most other boys (and girls – my sisters liked his books, too.)