This pair is made of candy-striped Flint Ridge from Ohio. They look like they coud have come from the same piece of rock, but they're pretty different. I was doubtful that the piece on the left would cooperate as it has many tiny inclusions of quartz crystals. They make flakes chatter, bounce, and end in step fractures -- all bad news for a knapper. I got lucky and the piece came out smooth, clean, and thin. The patterns are gorgeous!
The stone for the Snyders point (on the right) was as pure as mother's love. The color isn't quite as flashy, but the point seemed to jump out of the rock on its own. I was the lucky observer who got to sit on my knapping bench and watch it happen.
Greatest length: 5 3/8". Carolyn Johnson collection.
The red blade is a generic bi-pointed jobby. I suppose I could call it a small dance sword or a Caddo blade, but honestly, it's just what I found in a piece of Mook jasper from Australia after I eased around some troublesome cracks. Turned out pretty nice, I think.
The little Scottsbluff is a wild piece of porcellanite from southeastern Montana. Porcellanite, as you might guess by the name, is a natural clay that's been cooked by underground fires in coal seams. The material is usually maroon or gray. Sometimes you find black. But maroon, canary yellow, and apple green? It's a first for me. I made a Scottsbluff as a tip of the hat to the knappers of the Cody Complex made many fine Scotties out of porcelanite.
Length of the blade: 7 3/4". Scottsbluff: 3 1/2". Personal collection.
Here are two more points made of Oregon fire opal. On the left is a Dalton. To the right is an Allen.
Both about 5". Personal collection.
These are all made of the same material which is known as Carter Cave chert (or Paoli). From left to right, the styles are St Charles dovetail, Ross blade, and St Louis Clovis, which is done in the style of an old point.
The longest is something over 8". Dan Farnsworth collection.
This is my second attempt at replicating a Gerzean knife from pre-dynastic Egypt. These knives were made by percussing pieces of high-grade tabular stone, then grinding the preforms to very exact contours, which were then pressure flaked on only one face. The other face was left ground. Some were mounted in intricately carved ivory handles. Some Gerzeans seemed to be wealth/status symbols, while others were used for ritual butchering of animal sacrifices.
The material is from the Pedernales River in the hill country of Texas. It was a type of chert that knappers call an amoeba because of it's peculiar knobby shape. This amoeba was somewhat unusual as it was flattened. Perhaps that somehow contributed to the range of colors and patterns in this piece. Of the hundreds of amoebas that I've worked, this is the only one that looked like this. I hope to find another like it some day.
Length about 8 1/2". Collection of Chris Calloway.
This great piece of Knife River flint was used for a St Louis Clovis, a hand-held knife from the paleoindian era. Like another St Louis Clovis pictured above, this is done in an "old" style without my usual edge retouch and obsessive-compulsive attention to symmetry. It feels good to loosen up once in a while. For me, this is the flintknapping equivalent of a couple cold beers, chips and salsa, and feet on the coffee table.
Length is 7 1/2". Ronnie Hazlett III collection.
You've now scrolled to the "Holy crap!" section. The next several photos are of fire opal from a mine owned by Chuck Newnham of Klamath Falls, Oregon. Typically used for faceted gemstones, this material knaps extremely well, although it is perhaps more brittle than even obsidian. I could dust off my thesaurus and type out a couple hundred superlatives, but it still wouldn't do this stone justice. Just keep looking.
Longest about 6". Collection Chuck Newnham.
Chuck, I can't thank you and Robert Townsend enough for giving me the opportunity to work this stone. It was one of the highlights of my knapping career.
These are the same points, but lit from the front. Look at the variety of subtle colors and hints of "fire." There are a couple spots of "moss" as well from manganese inclusions. Because of the cost and scarcity of the fire opal, these were all made from small sawn slabs. To conserve as much material as possible, I made them using the "flake over grinding" technique -- something I rarely do.
Here's the unnotched blade from the photo above. The flake scars on both faces are visible through the luscious color.
And here's a great piece of fire opal that I made using my usual technique of percussion flaking followed by light pressure retouch. The style is one of my favorites -- a Ross blade from the Hopewell culture.
Length 6 1/4". Personal collection.
Same piece backlit. I don't know that I've ever felt more thoroughly wrung out after knapping a point. I obsessed over every platform, fretted over every swing, and didn't breath for the six or so hours spent knapping this piece. It may have shortened my life by a couple years. I can't wait to do it again...
The picture's a little big, but that's so you can enjoy the rock even more. That's the natural color. Amazing, isn't it? It's silicified palm wood from west Texas. We got four points out of the rock: one Plainview and three Scottsbluffs. Many thanks again, Kinley, for letting me have a go at this great stone.
Greatest length: about 6". From left to right, the owners are Larry Wertheim, yours truly, Kinley Coyan, and Leslie Pfeiffer.
Snyders points and Turkeytails. I think the three with bullseyes are Cobden chert. The half-hidden turkeytail is made of hornstone.
They're thin, only existing in two dimensions. None of them have an other side.
Greatest length, about 6 1/2". Collections of Carolyn Johnson and Tony Podkanowicz.
Flock of Folsoms and guest. Three are Tecovas jasper: the largest is Knife River flint.
Greatest length: about 3 1/2". Carolyn Johnson collection. She's got all the good stuff (I kept the caterpillar).
St Charles dovetail made of Cobden chert.
I'm guessing it's closer to 8" than 7". Nice piece of rock. Carolyn Johnson collection.
St Charles Dovetail made of Imperial jasper from Mexico. This may be the most beautiful piece of stone I've ever worked.
Length, 7 3/8". Personal collection.
This is the same point. I enjoy taking photos of it in various settings and different lights. You may see it again...
This is a quick and dirty photo of a group of western-style Clovis points. Some were closely patterned after points found in the Drake cache. The spectacular materials are Alibates and Tecovas jasper.
Greatest length: about 6 1/2". Leslie Pfeiffer collection.
I didn't make these eccentrics -- I just took the photo. John Kiernan created these little gems.
The artistry and technical virtuosity is simply extraordinary and deserves to be seen.
Greatest length: about 4". John Kiernan collection.
This group of points are made from different flavors of Flint Ridge chert. The points forming the ring are various forms of button-base dovetails. The piece in the center is a riff on a North blade.
Greatest length: 7 5/8".
Length of North blade: 4 1/4". William Woodcock collection. The dovetail at 9:00 is in the Tom Onken collection. The dovetail at 12:00 is in the Leslie Pfeiffer collection. The dovetail at 5:00 is in the Tony Podkanowicz collection.
This Ross blade is made of a great piece of Georgia jasper. I was fortunate to maintain the full length of the stone, keeping a spot of cortex on both ends. Stone of this size and quality, especially in jasper, is very uncommon. Many thanks, Dave, for allowing me to work this great piece of rock.
Length: about 12". Dave Swetmon (AKA "Delta Worm") collection.
Hardin point made of highly translucent red Imperial jasper. Red Imperial is always dry and opaque with a porcelain-like feel. This is the exception to the rule though: it is as slick, waxy, and lustrous as any material I've ever seen. And I have two more slabs of it...
Length: 6 1/4". Personal collection.
I don't knap much quartz crystal. When I do, I swear I'll never do it again. Flakes shatter into thousands of invisible needles that shred my hands and arms. In one direction, flakes run smoothly and terminate predictably. Knapped in another plane, every flake chatters along in micro-steps that threaten to end badly. It's due to the crystalline structure, of course, but I can't predict when or where it will occur. Between the blood, the pain, and the frustration, it's not a pleasant experience.
Here are my most recent crystal pieces, a pair of Drake-style Clovis points. There will be no more. I'm done with this miserable stuff.
Greatest length: 6 1/8". Leslie Pfeiffer collection.
Never say never... A gorgeous pair of quartz crystal Clovis points.
Greatest length: 5 1/4". Tony Podkanowicz collection.
This is a replica of a Mississipian mace. I borrowed heavily from key design elements of old maces without copying any one in particular. The mace on the far left of the background photo, perhaps the finest of the old maces, was the primary inspiration. The photo dates back to 1935 when these amazing artifacts were dug from the Craig Mound in Spiro, Oklahoma.
This is the fifth mace I've made. They all seem to take about 14 or 15 hours to knap, which is two or three times as long as other pieces.
Length: 14 1/2". Material: Georgetown chert. Don Crouch collection.
Sure enough, here it is, but in the company of other pieces made of Imperial jasper. The point types include a western-style Clovis, Scottsbluff, Hardin, Cumberland-ish fluted point, and a small dance sword.
Greatest length: 8 3/4". Personal collection, except for Drake-style Clovis (top left) (William Woodcock collection) and button-base dovetail in center (Craig Ferrell collection. Merry Christmas, Craig!).
Hopewell Ross blade made of Imperial Jasper. This amazing piece of rock came from Bruce Bradley. Many thanks again, Bruce. Length: 9 1/4". Personal collection.
Pine Tree point, Alibates chert. The background is the rusted hood of an old truck. Length, about 5".
Charles Lamb collection (the point, not the old truck).
Ross blades made from wildly striped flint from Poland. The material is somewhat difficult to work: the light areas are not as well-silicified as the dark brown areas. Consequently, flakes tend to crow-hop through the different areas and try to end in an undesireable feature known as a step fracture. The stone is so spectacular it makes up for any difficulties in knapping. Greatest length: 9 1/8". The larger blade is in my collection. The smaller blade is in the Carolyn Johnson collection.
Yet another Ross blade. This one is made of a truly exceptional piece of Knife River flint from North Dakota. I didn't spend much time on this photo. It was taken in the parking lot of my kids' school at sundown. Sometimes less is more.
Approximately 11 1/2". Dave Hyatt collection.
This looks like the same blade, but it's a touch larger. I've not seen another piece of Knife River flint like it. There is a diagonal line of white inclusions in the stone: in this photo it runs from the lower barb to the upper edge. To the right of the line, the stone is peppered with remnants of organic material (the white inclusions). The area to the left of the line is nearly free of them and the stone is a different shade of brown and less translucent, which is more easily seen when handled. On the opposite face, there is an old, unhealed crack that runs though the basal area. Safe to say I was nervous while working this magnificent piece of rock, but I'm very pleased with the result.
Length: 12". Personal collection.
Hopewell Ross blade made of Flint Ridge chalcedony. This photo does not show how translucent this stone is. In the hand it looks like smoky ice. Wonderful, rare material.
Length: 7 1/8". Personal collection.
Same blade backlit. Nice rock, eh?
Blade made of "Cherry Quartz," a glass made in China.
Length: 15". John Kiernan collection.
Ross blade made of Tecovas jasper. Breathtaking stone.
Length: about 7". Rod Chapman collection.
Spectacular rainbow obsidian blades (Davis Creek, California material).
Greatest length, about 13". Private collection.
This may be the most technically perfect point I've ever made. It is a replica of an Eden point made of Knife River flint from North Dakota.
Length, about 5 1/2". Joe Miller collection.
Hopewell Ross blade made of the most vivid iridescent green obsidian I have ever seen. This amazing material came from Mexico.
Length, 10 1/4". Personal collection.
Another enormous Ross blade made of material from Flint Ridge, Ohio.
Length, about 10 1/2". Carolyn Johnson collection.
Mississippian dance sword, 17 1/16" long, 3 1/4" wide. This is a sister slab to the huge Ross point pictured above. There are remnants of the stone's outer surface on both ends of the blade -- I tried to maintain every possible millimeter of this once-in-a-lifetime rock. I am very grateful to have had the opportunity to knap it.
Length, 17 1/16". Width, 3 1/4". Flint Ridge chert. Collection of Rod Chapman.
Danish dagger, type IVc. The material is novaculite from Arkansas. I made two small "practice" daggers and two which were full-size, all in one week. They're a very intriguing type of knife, but I don't feel driven to make more.
Length, 11 1/4". Personal collection.
Hixton quartzite from Wisconsin, more correctly known as silicified sandstone. Another nickname is "sugar quartz." This is one of the scarcest and most sought after materials in the US. I find it both challenging and rewarding to work. The point types are (from the top): two Scottsbluffs, Eared Eden, St Charles dovetail, and Scottsbluff.
Greatest length: 8 3/4". Personal collection, except for the uppermost point, which is now in the Jerry Goth collection (my kids' dog chewed up his house. Jerry laughed it off, but I left him that point to make amends. I hope he comes to visit me and breaks something so maybe I can get the point back.)
These are working points on cedar arrows. They aren't especially elegant, but they are very functional. The arrowpoint on the far left killed a 90 pound wild hog. It and the one next to it are made from computer monitors. It's wonderful irony to take glass from high-tech modern gizmos and make stone-age weapons. The arrowhead on the far right is made of raw Knife River flint.
This arrowhead is made of jasper from India. Length, about 2 1/2". Collection of Ray Hammond.
Another arrowhead made of Knife River flint. This grasshopper is known as an "eastern lubber" (Romalea guttata). They are enormous and can't fly, but have evolved the chemical defense of tasting very bad to would-be predators.