Last summer I worked in the Northwest Territories at a tiny commercial fishing camp called Wool bay. It was located on a small Island about 25 miles south of Yellowknife on the Great Slave Lake. There was nothing in the way of knappable stone except for a few pieces of this dull, reddish purple, limestone. The stone was barely knappable although I did make one point out of the stuff, it looked about 10,000 years old the second it was done. I did have trouble knapping it but it was quite easy to carve if i soaked it in the lake for a few days. I carved this cute little pendant in my spare time one evening.
The old CRT televisions make for an awesome source of knappable glass. There is phosphorous powder on the inside of the tubes that pose a health risk but there aren’t any immediate negative effects except that cuts don’t heal as quickly as they normally do.
There is a certain irony about making a stone age tool out of a modern technological wonder, that I can’t get enough of.
The formation of obsidian is a highly debated subject. The main issue lacking consensus is the composition of the lava. The average flintknapper believes that obsidian was formed from lava that was over 80 percent “silica” (SiO3) cooling rapidly on the surface. The rate of cooling is correct but geologists say that the lava would have had to cool in an ocean, not the surface, in order for the lava to cool quickly enough. Geologists also say that the composition of Obsidian is chemically identical to that of granite and rhyolite, crystals formed from slow cooling deep within the earth.
This is not the only theory on chemical composition that I have heard, though. Some say that basalt has the same composition as obsidian and granite. We know basalt is a primarily mafic (melted oceanic crust) lava, while granite is formed from felsic (melted continental crust) lava. These parallel contradictory theories, both taught in schools and readily available on the internet, are the root of the confusion we the flintknappers face.
Here’s one of my theories. Obsidian was molten rock… and came up to the surface in a way similar to basalt. The lava had a relatively low silica content (less than 50%) since lavas that have high silica content are much more volatile and tend to make extremely explosive volcanoes. Lava flowed out of the shield volcano underwater, cooling the stone almost instantly without allowing any air to enter the obsidian.
The composition of the lava doesn’t matter because the cooling action would be the same as the process for slag glass. Slag glass formed from the rapid cooling of a molten random rock mixture. If anything molten cools fast enough, you can get it to form a conchiodial fracture. This can be seen whenever a cheaply made cast iron pot is dropped, since they will occasionally chip.
However the stuff is formed, there’s one thing we can all agree on: you can make some awesome stone tools out of it!
Howdy everyone. Today I have a couple points made out of my homemade stone called princeton peanutbutter.
Princeton peanut butter was originally an ashflow-cherty-tuff which in essence is basically a pyroclastic flow composed mainly of fine ash particles. The flow, I believe (due to partial grading on the top of the deposit), had a river flowing over it before it was lithified. The bed of ash and plant debris was berried for only a short period of time, with very little heat and pressure, before it was brought back to the surface (perhaps due to isostatic rebound from the receding ice ages.)
The composition of the ash-flow must have been rich in silica and other clay minerals because when I put it in my pottery kiln up to cone 3 the stone vitrifies and changes colour.
It’s my own little homemade stone, I love working it and it makes some of the most interesting points.
This is the first point that i made out of the superheated stone. I made it the same day after the piece came out of the kiln.
Here’s a whole bunch of paleoplanet threads if you’re interested in reading more on the subject. Please excuse the bad grammar in these paleoplanet threads. haha
and one post form my old teenagecaveman blog
Thanks for dropping by! my appologies for a late blog post today.. I’ve been swamped with school work for the past two weeks.
Tune in tomorrow for a sweet article on Obsidian.
Categories: arrowheads, flint knapping, princeton, rock hounding
Tags: anthropology, ashflow tuff, ceramics, chert, experiments, harley slade, princeton BC, princeton peanut-butter, rockhounding
Some places in the world are gifted with an abundance of knappable stone, while other areas have nothing but igneous intrusive rock. The fact that a rock can be so common that it is a nuisance in one place while being so scarce and highly sought after in another is amazing. The ancient peoples had a very difficult time, getting their knappable stone if they didn’t live on flint bearing, chalk, bedrock.
Canada is one place where knappable stone is few and far between. The native people often had to settle for knapping tough basalt, or even tougher rhyolites. Why can a country like France have so much knappable stone while we, in the pacific northwest only have tough cherts jaspers?
oh well I guess I’ll have to suffice with visiting amazing countries like Britain and France. Maybe I can help dispose of their over abundance of flint.
here’s a link to my adventure journal from two years ago when I explored much of Europe with my mom and sister: http://paleoplanet69529.yuku.com/topic/36674/story—teenage-cavemans-adventure—plane—-new-flint?page=1#.T2wzEo5NCYA
and some awesome stone from france.
Thanks for looking! I wish I was there again. haha..
Well this was the first point that I made as a twenty year old. I don’t have time to upload photos right now but here’s the link to my paleoplanet thread.
Here’s a couple of photos of the point.
Categories: flint knapping, spear point
Tags: arrowhead, harley slade, how to make an arrowhead, new york, onondaga chert, onondagachipper, paleoplanet., stink rock, suquehana, tough knappable lithics
This is another point from a video series. I made it last Wednesday. It was a request from one of my viewers.
click here for the video series,
I think it turned out alright! let me know what you think. Oh, this one’s for sale on my flintknappers.com store if you’re interested. here’s the link
I hope you like this one. It was fun to make.
Tune in tomorrow to see another cool point.
Categories: arrowheads, flint knapping
Tags: BC, canada, crystal arrowhead, experimental archaeology, flintknapping, glass arrowhead, gunther arrowhead, Harleyslade., knapping, plate glass arrowhead, recycling glass, vancouver
Well it turns out that the last point I filmed myself making on my youtube channel was also the last point that I made as a teenager.
click here for a link to the video series..
It’s a European flint Clovis attempt, the material sure is pretty.. I wish the flutes went a little bit further instead of not going at all… It’s an un-fluted Clovis! haha
see you tomorrow!
Categories: flint knapping, spear point
Tags: clovis, european flint, experimental archaeology, flint, flintknappers.com, knapping, paleoplanet., Thames, the teenagecaveman, vancou, youtube
Last fall I made some points for my friend named Robert Chaplin. he gave me three empty bottles of Bombay sapphire alcohol. It’s a pale light blue, and I made him four points. Rob laser welded silver wire around each and made them into pretty pendants. Here’s a link to a cool project that Rob’s been working on (royal canadian snowflakes). Here’s a link to his blog (click here). He’s always writing about something interesting and witty.
These are the Bombay sapphire points.
If you’re interested in ordering custom arrowheads drop me an email at harleyslade @ hotmail . com, or leave a comment with your email address, and we’ll get in touch.
Like the lithified mud-stone from a few posts back, this rock came from a guy at a knap in who collected the stone in the columbia river gorge. There’s an amazing variety of material that comes out of that river, I just wish there were more easily accessible gravel bars.
I lost this point somewhere.. I’m sure it’ll turn up in one of my pockets, but I sure like the look of this rock. I have two more slabs of the stuff and I’ve been saving it for when I’m itching to make a cool looking point.
I made this point on jan 1, 2012 at about 4 pm.
See you tomorrow!
Categories: flint knapping, rock hounding, spear point
Tags: arrowhead, columbia river gorge, harley slade, knap in, primitive skills, PSK, puget sound knappers, rockhounding, vancouver BC, washington