You know, I have a really great job. Every year the plant shuts down for a couple weeks over the Christmas and New Years holidays. This has given me a chance to slow down and do some of the things I love...like breaking rock. Lately, I've been knapping some novaculite. Heat-treated it has a nice glossy shine when you flake away the surface. Novaculite is a type of microscopic crystallized quartz found in the Ouachita Mountains (pronounced: Wa-cha-taw) of Arkansas and Oklahoma. Every area seems to have its own distinct type of stone suited to knapping. The color can vary from white to grey-black. Since prehistoric times this stone has been mined to make points and tools, and in historic periods as whetstones for sharpening steel implements. The word novaculite comes from the Latin word 'novacula', which translates as 'razor', or 'sharp knife'. This was a term formerly used in England for certain stones that served as whetstones. Pictured is a knife I just finished today, a novaculite chert blade hafted with sinew and pitch mixture to an elk antler handle.
Friday, December 19, 2008
I had a gentleman who wanted me to haft a couple of modern made stone replica heads to handles. These were pictured a couple posts back. The top was a full groove axe head which was set into a hardwood handle, wrapped with rawhides, that when dry had shrank to hold tight. The handle was stained with boiled walnut hulls and burnished with a deer leg bone to give a polished, or varnished look. To burnish all you do is vigorously rub a bone across the wood. It compresses and smooths the outer fibers to give a polished look. The bottom is representative of a plains war club. It was made in a similar way, except that deer hide was stretched and sew over the entire handle. Warriors would decorate their personal weapons with fringes, fur, scalp locks, etc. as they felt inclined. There were several varieties of war clubs utilized. One, like the pictured pecked and grooved double pointed head. Another was a common rounded rock, pecked and grooved, hafted. A unique style was a rounded rock, wrapped with a loose section of hide and attached to a handle - similar to the medevil mace with the ball and chain on a handle. These war clubs were used in combat, and longer-handled ones from horseback. As I did some research on war clubs, I found a good number of double pointed heads fashioned from alabaster, a carving stone used for sculptures. So, I located a source and will try my hand fashioning some double pointed club heads, as well as banner stones for atlatls.