FLINTKNAPPING

FLINTKNAPPING RESEARCH

Monday, May 29, 2006

FLINTKNAPPING DIGEST NO. 1 VOL.1, 1984




FLINTKNAPPING DIGEST NO. 1 VOL.1, 1984

Review of the first California Flintknapping Rendezvous.
By Ray Harwood.

Those kanppers who regestered on the morning of April 14th, 1984:
Delores Hemphill, Chris Martinez, Terry P. Frederick, Joeseph T. Dabill, Gary Alex, Richard L. Wessel, R.J. Johnson, Annie Marilnnes, Eric Scott, John Bats, John E. Atwood, Jeanne Binning, Wright Huff, Ed Ryman, Alton Safford, Bryn Barabas, Fred E. Budinger Jr., Harold Ramser Jr. Terry Caruso, Veeianne Rogers, Clay Singer, Erin J. Singer, Susan D. Frischer, David W. Blanchard, Harry Smead, Roy Vande Hoch, Mike McIntire, Nancy Peterson Walter, Ted Bennett, Charlott Buetou, John F. Quin, Gary Alexanian, K.N. Sokoler, Graig W. Howell, Ray Harwood, Ted Harwood Sr. and Nancy Harwood.

Lithic Materials where supplied by: Terry P. Frederick (Monterey Chert), Joeseph T. Dabil (Beas'-wax chert) Jeanne Binning (obsidian) Ray Harwood (basalt, glass), Ted Harwood (basalt) Nancy Peterson (obsidian) Walter Clay Singer (quartzite),Fred E. Budinger Jr.(Calico chert and jasper).

The Northridge (California) Flintknapping Rendezvous was held at the Northridge Archaeological Research Center, on the C.S.U.N. campus. Held on April 14th, 1984
from 9:00 A.M. to 5:00 P.M. . The event was the brain child of yours truly, Ray Harwood. The prupose of the rendezvous was to flintknap, exchange ideas about lithic technology, demonstrate various techniques, and display replications. The event was very successful and was covered by several local news papers. The crowd was huge!

Formal Papers Presented:

Fred E. Budinger, Jr.
Evidence For Middle and Late Pleistocene Man In South -Central Mojave Desert, San Bernardino County, California.


The Manix Basin provides the greatest time depth of Early Man evidence in the New World. This evidence is episodic: surface percussion flaked stone artifactsof the Lake Manix Industry dating to a minimum of 15,000 to 18,000 years B.P. and Calico Site percussion flaked artifacts dating 200,000 +/- 20,000 years B.P..

Ray Harwood
Making Bottle Glass Arrowheads.

Knapper demostrates the proper method of reducing a bottle bottom into a usable perform and then proceeds to knap a side-notched arrowhead. Discussion on proto-historic glass knapping included Australian Aboriginals, Slaves, and Indians.

Clay A. Singer.
The 63 Kilometer Fit
.

Prehistoric quarry workshops were an important early focal point in American archaeology, and such sites are once again beggining to attract attention of archaeologists concerned with reconstruction of extinct cultural sytems. The study area was the desert region of the southeastern California , in and around the Chuckwalla Valley.

Clay A. Singer.
Lithics and French Sunsets

Clay Singer showed slides, and told stories, of his time working in France with noted French lithics expert, Francois Bordes.










1.

THE FLINTKNAPPING DIGEST STORY


THE FLINTKNAPPING DIGEST STORY

BY: RAY HARWOOD

San Diego, California was a hot bed of really good knappers in the
early 1970s, it sprung from a visit from Sollberger sometime in that
era. Only Steve Carter remains of that group. Navodne (Rod) Reiner,
another California sad story , Rod was one of the San Diego
flintknappers that Steve Carter hung around with in the 1970s. Like
Steve, Rod was a really good flintknapper, all traditional, and good
person. Rod did a lot of knapping and made nice pieces of lithic art
but was also interested in the experimental aspect as well. Rod came
up with the two man fluting technique; Reiner gripped the biface in
his left hand, held it down tightly against his thigh, while his
right hand used the full weight of his body from the shoulder to bear
down on the flaking tool. Then, to this he added a little more force
by using a second person to deliver a light tapping blow to the end
of the pressure flaker with a mallet. Reiner stated that the mallet
strikes just at the instant that the pressure flake is pressed off.
Wit

h Rod's method both constant pressure and a releasing percussion
impact a nice flute is detached. Rod, whom was also at the Little
Lake knap-in was a very good knapper and a big influence on Steve
Carter, but Rod was killed early on in a hunting accident. Chris
Hardacker was another, he just faded into the woodwork, I saw him
working as a digger for Jeannie Binning at one of her digs in the
middle 1980s.
In the mid 1970s flintknapping was really popular in University
archaeology departments around the world. Inspired by Francois Bordes
in France, Don Crabtree in Idaho, Robert Patten in Colorado, D.C.
Waldorf and Jim Spears in Missouri, Errett Callahan in Virginia and
J.B. Sollberger in Texas.
The knappers were in contact with each other but there was a high
degree of frustration over a lack of continuity and organization, no
medium existed for their use. The idea of a flintknapping
publication, for and by flintknappers, was born. Errett Callahan
realized that many useful ideas and suggestions which were being
exchanged between flintknappers, through the mail, could not be
shared with other knappers because there were no means for publishing
the information. What brought the whole thing to a head was realizing
the sense of frustration which J.B. Sollberger expressed in one of
his letters to Errett Callahan. Sollbergers letters were typically
packed with both practical and theoretical knowledge Solly had gained
from years of experience. Without any link to the academic arena of
the mid 1970s, it was very unlikely that J.B. Sollberger would have
ever gotten his ideas in print. Callahan suspected that if this was
true with J.B. Sollberger than it must be true for hundreds of
flintknappers around the world as well. What was needed to midigate
this problem was an informal means of getting the flintknappers ideas
into print. Without the hassles of formal writing and the
gratification of not having to wait long periods of time to get into
print, if it ever shows up at all. The idea came together and Volume
1, Number 1 of the Flintknappers' Exchange came to be on January
1978. The new journal had a very journalistic nature, more than dry
and academic. Without being amateurish. It was printed and mailed out
3 times a year at a cost of $2.00 per issue. It was edited by Errett
Callahan and Jacquelin Nichols and published by Atchitson Inc. The
technical editorial board included : Callahan, Flenniken, Patten,
Patterson, Sollberger, Titmus and a California kanpper named Chris
Hardaker. Hardaker was also production assistant. Later Penelope
Katson was managing
editor. The journal was great it launched the first knap-ins and
introduced the stars and theories of modern flintknapping. The
journal lasted almost four years and ended, without warning, with
Volume 4, Number 2 in the summer of 1981.
After the close of the Flintknappers' Exchange in 1981, there was a
void for two years. Communication among flintknappers slowed to a
stop. In 1984 at the knap-in at the Northridge Archaeological
Research Center I was talking about the need for a newsletter to Clay
Singer and Terry Frederick, they suggested I do it, well I had
dyslexia, couldn't type and had no money, okay! Alton Safford,
Jeannie Binning and Joe Dabill encouraged as well. I couldn't get
anyone to help me with the project so I did it myself. I started work
on the first issue, all the words were misspelled, the grammar was
just as bad, I cut and past the cover. I wanted to call it the
Flintknappers' Monthly but I couldn't find those words in the old
NARC newsletters so I got close with "FLintknapping Digest" and cut
and pasted it on the cover. I used the address list in the old
Flintknappers' Exchange at the end of each article to find the
knappers. It worked I began to get a flood of mail about it. It was
really amateurish and I got a lot of flak, but everybody who got it
loved it. Clay Singer said "it has a folksy, underground publication
look" . In any case it got better with each issue. I remember asking
J.B. Sollberger to write an article for me and he got really mad. He
said that I was just trying to associate with his name to gain fame
and make the newsletter sell better , I was unaffected and said yes,
so do I get the article? We got along fine after that and I did get
the article, I think he trusted me to tell the truth after that. He
even made me some fluted points. The "J.B." in J.B. Sollberger is
rumored to stand for "John the Baptist" . So you see with a
reputation like that truth means a lot. I was amazed that the little
newsletter was doing so well, my mom was too, she never thought such
a weird newsletter would work. I was 24 years old when I started the
newsletter and didn't have a whole lot else going, it was great, I
met all my flintknapping heroes. One day I got a letter from D.C.
Waldorf and he was asking about something, I can't remember, but he
referred to the Flintknapping Digest as "The Digest", I put the
letter in the next issue and from then on that's what everyone called
it. Even now I see it referenced to time and again and it is almost
always given its affectionate name "The Digest" it gave knappers a
worm and fuzzy feel, like an old dog that you had when you were a
kid. Even old dogs pass on, and in the late 1980s, even with Val
Waldorf's help, I couldn't do it anymore. After some coaxing the
waldorf's took pity on me and took the newsletter over. They gave it
a face lift and a new name "Chips" .
One of the articles published in 1981 in the Flintknappers' Exchange
really woke up the worlds' flintknappers to a real danger. Jeffery
Kalin of Norwalk, CT. wrote Flintknapping and Silicosis. The article
shows how knappers that inhale dangerous dust can die early. More
people wore dust masks than ever, at least for a couple weeks. Terry
Frederick wrote in a letter stating Sears and Roebuck carries
respirators. According to the American Antiquity article " The main
academic lithic journal in the United States, Lithic Technology, had
some 300 subscribers in 1997, according to the editor, George Odell.
Many of these are lithic analysts rather than knappers, but many
knap, at least at some level, and many academic knappers are not
subscribers. The newsletter Flinknappers' Exchange, which ran from
1979 to 1981 and was oriented toward archaeologically involved
knappers, had some 700 subscribers, according to Errett Callahan, one
of the editors. Perhaps 300 to 500 is a reasonable conservative
estimate of the number of academic knappers in the United States. The
authors of the American Antiquity article did not think Flintknapping
Digest was important enough to include in their article, but it had
at one time, nearly 600 subscribers. At one point I published The
Stone Age Yellow Pages with a list of all the know knappers, this was
also not good enough for the article. According to the article, "
Between 1991 and 1994, Jeff Behrnes edited a second flintknapping
newsletter aimed at non-archaeological knappers, The Flintknapper's
Exchange, and compiled a list of over 1,300 names, mostly knappers
with some related craftsmen and small business. The current
newsletter, Chips, has around 1,200 subscribers, according to D.C.
and Val Waldorf . The Bulletin of Primitive Technology recently
reached 2,907 subscribers, while many of them are more interested in
other pursuits, Callahan feels that most of the knap.
The internet has really put a new twist on the knapping world.
Richard Sanchez, A knapper from Texas, led the way with his Flint
Forum an online "list" or interactive newsletter. Sanchez, along with
a very few others, helped fight the cyber knappers against fraud and
other unethical practices Sanchez, who was inspired to knap by his
father-in-law, was also a computor wiz. Compining his two passions
Sanchez started the "cyber-silca" revalution. He began two popular on-
line news platforms one "The Flint Forum List" and later The Tarp
List" . These lists insired others to get into the field. Richard
does not play around with glass, obsidian or labidary and stays on
track with traditional Texas flintknapping in the Sollberger
tradition od bifacing with antler billet off isolated platforms.
Richard is what modern traditional knapping is all about.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Why the World Flintknapping Society Failed


Why the World Flintknapping Society Failed!

Well, for the most part, most people are selfish and mean and did not want anything I had anything to do with work. Furthermore, I was pointing out the lack of ethics, morals, and knowledge expressed by modern knappers. Stated in substance, I sketched their sins in the
sand. Preground slabs, I stated, make very nice points. Preground slab flaking is not flint-
knapping in a traditional view point, it is lapidary art. I find lapidary art very pleasing and
have no issue with it.

Why was I cut out the "TARP" well, I was pointing out the lack of ethics, morals, and knowledge expressed by modern knappers. Stated in substance, I sketched their sins in the
sand. Most modern knappers have no concern with archaeology, lithics of any sort of code of ethics. The WFS offered a code to follow...that's why it failed.

CRABTREE, the Dean; Modern flintknapping


CRABTREE, the Dean; Modern flintknapping
BY Ray Harwood

was actually popularized by
Don Crabtree, often referred to as "the Dean of American
flintknapping". He was born June 8, 1912, in Heyburn, Idaho.
According to Harvey L. Hughett of the University of Idaho:
Don spent
his early youth in Salmon, Idaho where he first became interested in
Indians and their tools. His mother would have him run errands for
the next-door neighbor and as a reward this woman would give Don an
arrowhead which her husband had gathered. Young Don became fascinated
with these tools and even at this early age began to wonder why and
how they were made. There were, at this time, many Indians in Salmon.
Thanks to Harvey Hughett, at the University of Idaho, whom is now
curator of the Don Crabtree Lithic Collection, we now know much more
about Don Crabtree's childhood. I spoke to Mr. Hughett a few in
October of 1999 (Val Waldorf had no problem either) he gave me
permission to quote his copyright article on Don Crabtree in Chips
Vol. 11, No.3, 1999.: "Young Don became fascinated with these tools
and even at this early age began to wonder why and how they were
made. There were, at this time, many Indians in Salmon. Their custom
was to sit flat on the sidewalk with their legs stretched in front of
them. Don found it great fun to jump over their legs and to talk with
them, for which he was severely reprimanded by his mother.
When Don was six, his Family moved to Twin Falls. This was desert
country and Don spent most of his time hunting for artifacts, Indian
campsites and building his collection of Indian tools. The family's
home was just a stone's through from the Snake River Canyon and Don
spent every possible moment hunting in the canyon, collecting from
campsites and caves and adding to his collection. He also collected
obsidian flakes and began to try to reproduce the artifacts. This
meant more trips to the canyon for knapping material. Soon, young
Crabtree had gathered a fairly large collection of artifacts and his
interest in experimenting with different stones and methods of
manufacture to achieve replication increased. He tried many
approaches to holding and applying force but with little success and
much failure. After interviewing many local Indians, he was
disappointed that he was unable to learn anything of how these
fascinating artifacts were made. Flintknapping was essentially a lost
art even at the time.
Don was constantly in trouble with his father for being away from
home so much, for the many cuts on his hands and the permanent
bloodstains on his clothing. He received many reprimands for coming
home after dark. Even this did not cure him of his quest for
knowledge of the Native Americans and their tools. At one point, his
father became so disgusted with Don spending so much time knapping he
offered to pay him $100.00 if he would promise never to make another
arrowhead. Don wanted a bicycle and a gun so badly that he considered
this offer for some time. However, the love of Indian lore won and he
told his father that he could not give up his attempts to make tools
as the Indians had.
In the late 1930's he was supervisor of the Vertebrate and
Invertebrate Laboratory at the University of California at Berkley,
this is also where Ishi's artifacts are curated. Also, Ted Orcutt
still lived not far to the North. Crabtree also worked in the
Anthropology lab with the well known Anthropologist Alfred Krueber,
whom was Ishi's friend and caretaker at the museum a few short years
before. According to Dr. Errett Callahan (1979), following a
flintworking demonstration at a meeting of the American Association
of Museums in Ohio, in 1941, Crabtree was employed at the Ohio State
Lithic Laboratory with H. Holmes Ellis and Henry Shertrone. He was
also advisor in Lithic Studies at the University of Pennsylvania and
the Smithsonian Institution's museum.
During world war II, Crabtree was coordinating Engineer with
Bethlehem Steel in California. Between 1952 and 1962, he was County
Supervisor with the U.S.D.A in Twin Falls, Idaho. In 1962 and 1975,
Crabtree was research associate in lithic technology at the Idaho
State Museum in Pocatello."
Not only was Crabtree a master flintknapper and an inspirational
flintknapper , he was also an expert on the theoretical aspect of
stone tool studies. Crabtree published papers on replicative
flintworking and other aspects of lithic studies in such publications
as:
"American Antiquity" (1939,1968), "Current Anthropology"
(1969), "Science" (1968,1970), "Curator" (1970), "Tebiwa" (1964,
1966, 1967, 1968, 1972, 1973,1974), and "Lithic Technology" (1975).
Crabtree's textbook, "An Introduction to Flintworking", was the main
publication readily available from 1972 on. The Crabtree book,
although 26 years old, is still a classic and is one of the most
referenced books in lithic studies today. The book is easy to read
and is full of excellent drawings and text. The book is available
through the Idaho Museum of Natural History, Idaho State University,
Pocatello, Idaho. They also have republished Crabtree's articles,
papers, and videos, his articles are better than ours decades later.
Crabtree was featured in many archaeological films in his day, many
were shown around the world in class rooms from elementary school to
doctoral classes. These films influence many up and coming
flintknappers. The film "Blades and Pressure Flaking" (1969) won best
anthropology film at the 1970 American Film Festival.
In 1972, the Idaho Museum of Natural History received a grant from
the National Science Foundation for the production of several 16mm
films featuring the legendary flintknapper. Just a few years ago
these films were dubbed onto VHS video tape and made available to the
public through Idaho Museum Publications. Though faded somewhat, this
footage still maintains its detail and shows Don Crabtree at his
best. In the Shadow of Man , Don is shown quarrying obsidian at Glass
Buttes in Oregon. The Flintworker discusses the basics of
flintknapping, stone tools are made using simple percussion
techniques, and the Hertzian cone theory is introduced. Ancient
Projectile Points covers the making of bifacial points. The hunter's
Edge covers prismatic blade making. The Alchemy of Time concerns heat
treating, and the manufacture of Clovis, Folsom and Cumberland
points. In 1978, Crabtree had open heart surgery with stone tools.
The blades Crabtree made were so sharp that Crabtree's doctor agreed
to use them on him after seeing how sharp they were. The first
surgery one of Crabtrees's Ribs and a lung section were removed, an
18 inch cut. Crabtree's stone tools were so sharp that there was
hardly a scar.
Don Crabtree flintknapped all types of artifacts including fluted
Folsom , parallel flaking, chevron flaking, notching, blade making
and even Ted Orcutt style large obsidian biface points. His large
points were very similar to Orcutts , some were so thin that they
looked like dinner plates, his obsidian arrow points were very
similar to those he helped to curate in Berkley made by Ishi.
While working agate Crabtree noticed that his had a satiny texture
and the Indian arrowheads out of the same material were like opal.
After much experimentation he rediscovered heat treating of flint
materials to improve knapping quality.
In the later part of his life Crabtree traveled the world meeting and
flintknapping with each nations leaders in lithic fields of endeavor
and really opened the door for all of us. During this time
flintknapping saw its heyday, "knap-ins", lithic conferences and
publications. Sort of what what is happening now but with the
academics.
Don Crabtree, Dean of American flintknappers, died on November 16,
1980 from complications of heart disease, within six months of
Francois Bordes . When Bordes and Crabtree passed away the 1970's
academic flintknapping heyday passed away with Them. THE PALEO
KNAPPERS : The Late Don Crabtree, of southern Idaho, is considered to
be the "Dean of American Flintknapping" not only for his fine
publications, but also for the vast amount of important information
he uncovered in a life devoted to the study of stone tools. Don was
most probably the first flintknapper in thousands of years to flute a
Folsom point, as early as 1941 Crabtree was employed at the Lithic
Laboratory at the University of Pennsylvania and the prestigious
Smithsonian Institution. He had experimented with fluting in the
1930s but became quite famous for his studies into the Lindenmier
Folsom in 1966 . Don Crabtree passed away on November 16, 1980.
Jeffery Flenniken and Gene Titmus, students of Crabtree carried on
the studies and are still considered to be among the best
flintknappers in the world.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Callahan Flintknapper


THE ULTIMATE FLINTKNAPPER.




ERRETT CALLAHAN
By: Ray Harwood
                                                                HARWOOD       CALLAHAN
The Thinking Man: One of the most knowledgeable and talented
flintknappers of our time was a Virginia Flintknapper, whom has
influenced hundreds, if not thousands, Errett Callahan. We can sit
and wonder where Callahan came from and why he was such an influence.
The answer is this, Callahan came into knapping with a great deal of
skill, intellegence and strength, at a time when a whole new
generation of archaeologists were coming out of the old school with a
lot of questions. Crabtree had just released his book and was bumping
out students by the bus load. Archaeology was hungry and Callahan was
just what the doctor ordered. He had fresh ideas and an uncanning
knapping ability intertwined the craft and theory like no one before
or since.
In 1956, just out of high school, Errett spent the summer in
Yellowstone National Park working at the Old Faithful general store.
He was exposed to a lot of history at the park and had access to
obsidian, this gave him the start he needed and he began knapping
seriously then and has been doing it full steam ever since, later
combining his early grinding methods as part of his flaking strategy.
It started on a trip out when he was waiting for the train in
Montana. He went into a local library and found a book on various
point types. He was fascinated by this and it sort of plugged some
into his memory. In his spare time he would try to duplicate these,
using small pieces of obsidian and bottle glass and guided only by
the flintknapping picture in Holling's book. It was another 10 years
before Errett realized that there were other people flintknapping. Up
until then he thought he was the only one.
Errett read more and more of Bordes's works and met him several
times. Francois Bordes stayed at Callahan's house for several days in
1977. Bordes, as Errett, was inspired by Edgar Rice Burroughs and he
published numerous science fiction novels. Callahan, as a college
student, had once been assigned to be Bordes's escort to a knapping
demonstration sponsored by the Anthropology department in D.C. for
the Leaky Foundation lectures. In 1977 Bordes spent four days
knapping there in Richmond. Bordes had plenty of money to visit the
U.S.A. because not only was he a master flintknapper and Europe's
leading archaeologist, but also one of the most popular science
fiction writers in France. According to Callahan Bordes wrote dozens
of novels under the pen name of Franci Carsac. Callahan was
influenced quite a bit by Bordes. At the same time Errett was also
reading the works of Don Crabtree. Errett was Fascinated by Crabtree,
they met in Calgary in 1974 and Crabtree gradually became a heavy
influence on Errett's knapping. J.B. Sollberger was another major
influence and led Errett to bigger and better things than he could
have without that input. Gene Titmus of Idaho, a friend of Crabtree
was also a major influence on Callahan, mostly his notching and
serrating techniques. Errett stayed in close contact with Gene for
many years, Gene a master knapper of percussion and, like Don, about
the nicest and humblest guy he'd ever met.
Some other overseas influences on Errett were Jacques Pelegrin and Bo
Madsen. Pelegrin had been Bordes number one student in France,
working under him for years. Pelgrin first trained with Bordes over
six summers, for three weeks each summer. Pelegrin worked with a
hardwood billit, which he learned to use from Bordes's friend in
Paris, Jacques Tixier, whom was one of the Masters of flintworking of
the time. Pelegrin became very good with boxwood. Jacques Pelegrin's
father built a cottage in the French woods, here Jacques reflected on
archaeological concepts and flintknapping. At this time, in the
1970s, Pilegrin was writing a bit back and forth to Master Don
Crabtree in the USA and Jacques had begun to read and interprit
Crabtree's publications. Pelegrin did public flintknapping
demonstations in the Archeodrome, which is on the main road between
Beaune and Lyon, France. He is concidered one of the best
flintknappers in the world. Pelegrin and Bordes learned English
together and spend years flintknapping together and learning, master
and student became knapping partners. Jacques Pelgrin went through
almost all the Paleolthic French technologies while learning his
craft- Levallois, blade making, different kinds of Paleolithic tools,
different kinds of flint cores, and leave points, including Solutrean
pressure material. It is an interesting fact that Pelegrin learned to
flintknap standing up and only changes after his first exposure to
other knappers and text.
Bo Madsen is Denmark's premier flintknapper, a grand- master of the
Danish art. Madison is an expert on Danish lithics and earned his
Ph.D. at Arhus in Jutland, Denmark. Madsen's dagger research
influenced Callahan greatly and this spread to America and in this
era many knappers were attempting dagger production: Waldorf, Patten,
Stafford, Flenniken and Callahan in particular. Errett spend a good
deal of time in the 1970s in Scandinavia and returned again in August
of 1984. Madsen had moved over to the University of Arhus and was
teaching a talented portage, Peter Vemming Hansenat at the University
of Copenhagen, the two had co-wrote and published a paper on the
replication of square- sectioned axes. While in Scandinavia Callahan
gave several flintknapping workshops sponsored by the Archaeological
Institute of the University of Uppsala, Sweden, he was assisted by Bo
Madsen and Dr. Debbie Olausson. According to Callahan, the Copenhagen
area has several talented non-academic knappers as well Thorbjorn
Peterson, Asel Jorgensen, and Soren Moses.
In later years Errett's biggest influence was Richard Warren. Richard
was completely underground and out of contact for most of his
knapping life, he became a lapidary knapper that had an exclusive
clientele. Richard Warren's work was incredibly precise, much more
than anyone at the time thought was possible. Errett had to
reconstruct the Warren technique entirely from scratch. Richard
Warren showed Errett one important thing- perfection is possible- and
that's all he needed to know. Richard Warren died a few years ago,
Warren's curiosity was to know what could be done with flint if
someone picks up where the best stone age knappers abandoned the
craft for metal technology or extinction. In short Richard's quest
was for knapping for the sake of art-perfection, by any means
possible. Richard used the term "Teleolithics" to describe what we
now call lapidary knapping, flake over grinding (lap-knapping). After
Hannus' colon operation, in 1983, for which Errett made the obsidian
blades used in the surgery and observed the entire operation, two of
Callahan's students decided to start a company with him to market
these blades to the medical community. The one who was supposed to do
the marketing dropped out and little became of " Aztecnics".
Errett markets his obsidian art through "Piltdown Productions" in
Virginia. Callahan is best known for his published work The Basics Of
Biface Knapping In The Eastern Fluted Point Tradition A Manual For
Flintknappers And Lithic Analysts. This was published in Archaeology
Of North America, . He has also published many other books and
articles. Including: "Flintknappers' exchange" (the original
journal), "The Emic Perspective" and "Flintknapping Digest". The
Basics Of Biface knapping In The Eastern Fluted Point Tradition was
the single most influential lithic book ever written.
The Callahan biface book is Vol. 7, No. 1 of the journal Archaeology
Of Eastern North America. The book introduced many new techniques for
the study of stone tools, for standard and experimental archaeology.
The concepts, "the lithic grade scale, and biface staging, are widely
used in flintknapping circles to the point the most new knappers
didn't even know these concepts were fairly new and discovered by
Callahan.
As Crabtree before him Callahan was the only living flintknapper with
the confidence to have major surgery done with stone tools he crafted
himself. According to the news release on December 9th, 1998, Errett
Callahan had major surgery done to repair his right rotator cuff
tendon. The two hour landmark operation was done by Dr. Jay Hopkins
of Blue Ridge Orthopedics at Lynchburg General Hospital. Callahan's
rotor cuff tendon had become completely torn off the top of his
humerus bone and had to be extensively reworked. Dr Hopkins said that
it was as bad a tear as he had ever witnessed. All incisions were
made with Callahan's obsidian scalpels. Dr. Hopkins, after performing
the operation, was impressed with the great reduction of bleeding in
the initial incisions and states: I used the obsidian blade for a
shoulder operation and found them quite satisfactory. They performed
very much like a scalpel and the bleeding with the first cut through
the skin was minimal. Healing appears to be very much normal, if not
accelerated.
Errett Callahan was founder and president of the Society of Primitive
Technology for many years . The Society is an international
organization devoted to the preservation of a wide range of primitive
technologies. The SPT preserves and promotes this knowledge
principally by means of a remarkable magazine, the Bulletin of
Primitive Technology. Errett has now retired from his editor and
chief and president but he will stay an active member. For more
information contact Society of Primitive Technology, P.O. Box 905,
Rexburg, Id 83440. The Bulletin is now being edited and produced by
Primitive skills expert David Wescott. At this time Errett Callahan
is in the midst of writing a major book on flintknapping - everything
he knows...and he knows a lot..The book is going to focus a on Danish
Daggers. The book is addressed to both the archaeologist and
flintknapper a like. This book is a 20-year research project in which
200 daggers were replicated. The research was funded by a grant from
the King of Sweden and by Uppsala University. Callahan is cowritting
the book with Jan Apel, a PhD student at Uppsala and fellow
flintknapper. The new book will do for daggers what his biface book
did for that field. Callahan is also working on a book on
experimental archaeology.
Callahan still puts on his week long classes at Cliff Side on
flintknapping, traditional archery, primitive pottery, lithic
analysis, and more. Bob Verrey, a former student and long time
flintknapper, archaeologist and supplier of knapping tools offers a
scholarship to the school but it is very competitive. .

IN MEMORY OF MY FRIEND, J.B.SOLLBERGER



IN MEMORY OF MY FRIEND, J.B.SOLLBERGER
BY: RAY HARWOOD


THE TEXAS MASTER; In the states of Texas was a long lean bloke, it
wasn't Johnny Smoke, it was paleo flintknapping pioneer, J.B. ( Photo By Thompson)
Sollberger. I was aquatinted with Mr. Sollberger and know that he was
a true master flintknapper and influence to hundreds.
Though they were contemporary, Carabtree and Texan, J.B. Sollberger
spurred on two separate schools of thought. Crabtree the obsidian
school and Sollberger the Texas flint school. Though both are
flintknapping, the methodology is very different.
In the realm of thought and mental visualization, deep in the mind is
the perfect visualization or pure idea, the mental template. For most
craftsmen by the time this idea becomes a piece of work it has lost a
bit of perfection. On rare occasion it is manifested in a piece of
art work, this was the case with the magnificent flintwork of J.B.
Sollberger, of Dallas, Texas.
Sollberger was a true flintknapping pioneer and a legend in his time.
Not only was Sollberger a master knapper, he was truly a gentleman
and humble as well. He was very analytical with his theoretical
papers and articles being the best in the field. His literary works
were of the highest quality where he published in many journals
including American Antiquity, Lithic Technology, Flintknappers'
Exchange, Flintknapping Digest, and The Emic Perspective.
J.B. Sollberger started flintknapping when he was middle aged, some
time around 1970. He always had a curiosity about knapping but didn't
get the "lithic erg" until he observed a scrapper making
demonstration at the 1970 Dallas Archaeological Society meetings.
Ironically Don Crabtree came to Dallas to the meetings but J.B.
Sollberger had to work so he missed the opportunity to meet Crabtree.
The next week he tried to make up for it buy going on his first flint
hunt and ordering Crabtrees book. Upon reading this, Sollberger got a
basic tool kit together and began experimenting.
Sollberger recalled seeing a forked stick in a museum in Texas as a
boy and began experimenting with his famous "fork and lever" knapping
style. Sollberger was very successful in his experiments and was soon
making fine arrow heads with his rig.
According to Sollberger (1978) " back in 1933 I suppose, we were just
boy artifact collectors. We made this trip to San Antone to see the
Witte Museum and inside they had a forked stick a little over a foot
long with something like 3/4 of an inch gap between the two forks. It
struck me that pressure flaking could be done with leverage by laying
the biface material across this forked stick and using the fork as a
fulcrum for a lever".
In 1990, John Wellman spoke to Solly and said that Solly was really
interested in the East Wenatchee Site in Washington and he had made
several large fluted points including an eight inch Cumberland he had
spend eight hours preparing and fluted off the tip. This was really
advanced work for the year and to me Sollberger's work remains
unsurpassed.
Bob Vernon, an old time Texas knapper once conveyed this story about
Sollberger to me: " If any of you ever had the privilege of sitting
alongside Solly at a small knapping session, you'll remember his dry,
but gentle, humor. Like the times when he would say, " That platform
looks a like a strong `un- guess I better drag out ol' "he-poppa-ho"
(his mega-moose billet)."
Almost all Sollberger's work was in flint or chert, I have only seen
one item made by Sollberger of obsidian. The obsidian point is in the
collection of Steve Carter, a master flintknapper from Ramona,
California. The obsidian point was very nice and very delicate, this
shows the diversity in craftsmanship Sollberger had. The last time I
spoke to J.B. Sollberger he was crafting a set of masterful flint
Folsom points out of Texas flint. He had made quite a few thousand
points in his time and was using 1,000 pounds of flint a year. Even
when Sollberger was quite old he continued being very active in
knapping and writing. In a letter from Sollberger to Steve Behrnes
Sollberger described this incredible expedience, " My house, on
Monday nights, is known as the Sollberger Clovis Factory. Joe Miller
and Woody Blackwell made Tee Shirts to that name which we often wear.
Dr. Ericson, David Hartig,Gene Stapleton, Jess Nichols, are regulars
who concentrate on fluting." J.B. Sollberger died on Sunday, May 7 at
Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas from emphysema. He was 80
years old. Many rumors have surfaced in the years after his death,
that Solly died of silicosis, this is simply untrue. According to the
Dallas Morning News, Solly donated his collection to the University
of Texas, where they will be used for study. In my collection I have
several Sollberger points, the one that is my favorite has written on
it "to my friend Ray Harwood from J.B. Sollberger," I use that point
as inspiration for my own knapping.

Bob Patten, High Plains Paleo Flintnapper


Bob Patten, High Plains Paleo Flintnapper By Ray Harwood



Bob Patten has been flintknapping for nearly 40 years and is self
taught. He uses as close to aboriginal methods as possible. He has
just released a book where he shares his extensive knowledge in a
concise, yet comprehensive, overview of flintknapping. He clearly
explains the principles and concepts required to make stone tools.
According to Dr. James Dixon, Denver Museum of Natural history-
archaeologist, "Old tools-New Eyes is the best book of its type I
have had the pleasure to read. Bob is one of North America's greatest
flintknappers." Bob's book contains these concepts on ; Appreciate
early tool making skills, Link appearance of an artifact with the way
it was made, understand and control fracture, receive detailed
instructions on how to make arrowheads, learn how classic artifact
types were made , view 200 carefully prepared illustrations and
acquire fresh ideas and novel viewpoints.

The biggest influence on Bob Patten's knapping was Indian artifacts.
At first, he tried to copy them by referring to standard typology
based on shapes. It wasn't long though before he got hooked on
tracing out the whole start-to-finish process. When Bob got access to
collections of workshop debitage through the Smithsonian Institution
his progress really took off. Since then, he has come to think that
only a few minor shifts in technology are responsible for the whole
range of paleo-style points. Bob also thought that it may not take
that much skill to match paleo-indian work. The trick is to focus
less on the end results and more on how you get there.

Many years ago Bob heard Don Crabtree remark that many areas of the
world lacked large antlered animals, so there must be different tools
which serve as well as antler to explain the artifacts which were
being found. Since that time, Bob has found that it is possible to do
the same things with many kinds of tools if one understands the
mechanics involved. Part of his work involves finding out how many
tools can create the same effect.

Bob patten's style of percussion work is very relaxed. Instead of
supporting the preform on his leg, he keeps his work as loose in his
left hand as is possible. He also swings his baton very loosely. He
has a strong preference for working against individually prepared
striking platforms. Even when he is pressure flaking, he usually uses
a copper "nibbler" to set up spur platforms.Most of Bob Patten's
pressure work is done with unhafted antler tines. He usually works in
a sitting position with his left hand on top of his leg and works the
tine with wrist and arm action. The exception has been when he uses a
table block for Eden flaking.

PATTEN AND THE PALEO KNAPPERS : The Late Don Crabtree, of southern
Idaho, is considered to be the "Dean of American Flintknapping" not
only for his fine publications, but also for the vast amount of
important information he uncovered in a life devoted to the study of
stone tools. Don was most probably the first flintknapper in
thousands of years to flute a Folsom point, as early as 1941 Crabtree
was employed at the Lithic Laboratory at the University of
Pennsylvania and the prestigious Smithsonian Institution. He had
experimented with fluting in the 1930s but became quite famous for
his studies into the Lindenmier Folsom in 1966 . Don Crabtree passed
away on November 16, 1980. Jeffery Flenniken and Gene Titmus,
students of Crabtree carried on the studies and are still considered
to be among the best flintknappers in the world. In Texas, The late
J.B. Sollberger was considered the master of Folsom and learned on
his own to create masterful fluted points with a methodology
involving the use of the fulcrum and lever . J.B.s replicas were
beautifully crafted out of the finest of Texas flints. Again part of
the Sollberger legacy is the vast amount of published works and
theories that he pioneered. J.B. passed away on May, 7th 1995. In the
Southern United States two knappers of quite diverse back grounds
were also working on the Folsom mystery: D.C. Waldorf of Missouri and
Errett Callahan of Virginia. Waldorf crafted his replicas in a large
part to sell in the commercial market place, and sold them as
replicas, but also to research the Folsom technologies for books he
would later write and market. One of Waldorf's books, The Art of
Flintknapping, sold over 40,000 copies. Waldorf is still active in
both flintknapping and the study of fluted point technologies and he
and his wife, Val, publish a magazine called Chips that is devoted to
flintknapping. Callahan also worked and studied in a social vacuum in
the 1960s, but he had the advantage of academia behind him, yet in
those days the published material was both sparse and, to a large
degree, incorrect. Callahan went on to publish perhaps the most
important paper written to date on fluted point studies, The Basics
of Biface Knapping in the Eastern Fluted Point Tradition. In the
American Southwest Circa the mid to late 1960s, the new Folsom age
was being revised by two additional notable experimentalists, Bob
Patten, of Lakewood, Colorado and Bruce Bradley of Tucson, Arizona.
Bruce Bradley worked closely with Crabtree and Sollberger as well as
French flintknapper Francois Bordes. Once Bruce Bradley's knapping
skills were well honed he began working with some of the world's best
known Paleo-archaeologists; George Frison, Vance Haynes, Rob
Bonnichson and Dennis Stanford of the Smithsonian Institute. In 1980
Bruce Bradley was involved with these scientists in a PBS Odyssey
television special called Seeking The First Americans. In this now
classic film Bruce Bradley knapped two paleo type points. Bradley
also participated in "Clovis and beyond" and continues his
involvement in lithic research. Bob Patten learned the high plains
paleo tradition and became a master of creating Folsom points out of
tough unheated lithic materials. Ten Years after Bruce Bradley
appeared on the Odyssey special, Bob Patten was featured crafting a
fluted Clovis point in the PBS television special- NOVA: Search For
the First Americans, and like the Odyssey special ten years before,
the film featured Dennis Stanford and Vance Haynes. Nearly a decade
after the film Bob published a book on his flintknapping
methodologies called Old Stones New Eyes. Bob is often seen around
the country conducting Flintknapping demonstrations at archaeological
meetings and was recently featured at "Clovis and Beyond" and "The
Folsom Workshop" . Most of the knappers today are not part of the
1960s experimentalism movement, the new field of thought is
as "lithic art" and the points are created not with aboriginal
methods that add to the data base of experimental archaeology, but
with lapidary equipment, they contribute very little to the study of
stone tools or ancient artifact studies. The Folsom fluted lanceolate
point was named by J.D. Figgins in 1934 after Folsom, New Mexico.
According to the American Museum of Natural History the first Folsom
point was discovered near Folsom, New Mexico on September 1, 1927 on
a joint expedition by archaeologists from the American Museum of
Natural History and the Denver Museum of Natural History. This small
fluted dart or spear point stands among the most important
archaeological finds ever made on this continent. This artifact is
now displayed in a cast of the bones of an ancient extinct bison in
which it was embedded, thus re-creating the context in which it was
found by members of that original expedition. Folsom points tend to
date between 10,000 BC to 8,000 BC. Folsom points have a large
geographic range within the Americas. Folsom points are characterized
by their short lanceolate basic form, concave base and long flute
extending on both faces from base, or proximal end, toward the tip,
or distal end, of the point. The purpose of the flute has long been
the subject of great controversy. Some have postulated that the flute
is an artistic element and may represent a flame and others feel it
has a functional purpose and was for blood letting from the wound of
their prey, thus causing the prey to bleed and weaken and leave a
trail for the hunter to fallow. others feel it is simply a hafting
technique where the split shaft nicely fits into the fluted channel.
What-ever the purpose, it seems to have evolved and been accentuated
from the older Clovis points that were also fluted from the base, or
proximal end. According to Michael Waters (1999), from Texas A&M
University, archaeologists: in the early 1950s artifacts, later to
become known as Clovis, were found beneath the Folsom cultural
horizon at Blackwater Draw, near Clovis, New Mexico and were later
carbon dated to nearly 13,359 BP. Clovis appears to have highbred, or
evolved into Folsom and the point made more stream-lined and the
flute improved and accentuated, the technology changing with hunting
technologies that were closely intertwined with the available game.

According to Paleo specialist, Bob Patten, of Lakewood, Colorado
(1999) when mammoths went extinct, spear points went through a re-
engineering, from the large Clovis to a more delicate form dominated
by the central flute scar. Instead of the mammoth the new quarry was
Bison Antiquus, a larger and more formidable game than the modern
bison.Even with the past few decades of Paleo point replication
studies the true production methodology is not completely understood.
According to Patten "it is likely that it will be some time before we
can say we know with assurance how Folsom points were made". Patten
prefers a method known as the rocker punch method. Patten's response
to the aboriginal flute method is this "My answer is that aboriginal
flute flake scars have distinctive attributes of flatness, rippling,
thickness, and so on. The rocker punch method seems to most closely
match original results" (Patten, 1999). At this time in
archaeological circles the theories on the first peoples of the New
World have been changing, rather than crossing the Bering land bridge
from northeast Asia to Alaska theories, they have come up with
theories of "paleo-notical", a Paleo ocean migration from Europe
along the edge of the polar ice cap into the northern most tip of
North America. Clovis-like Solutrean projectile points found in
Europe help support this hypothesis . If Clovis man indeed came to
the New World by boat, then it is my theory that the fluted point
technology was originally one that came from stone age harpoon tips.
In Alaska there is a fluted point type known as the Dorset point
which is characterized by two precise flutes or harpoon end blades
removed from the tip or distal end of this small flint triangular
harpoon point type. These paleo-eskimo points were part of a
specialized material culture based on northern marine exploitation
(Renouf, 1991) The first big game brought down by fluted points was
possibly not Pleistocene mega-fauna but large sea mammals, and the
altatl may have first been a harpoon launcher and later adapted to
land use as a spear thrower.

Bob Patten, known to all for his knapping and writing won this years
SAA Crabtree award. Below the SAA discribes sais award and past
awardees. Thanks for the dedication and contributions Bob.
Crabtree Award
Established in 1985 to recognize significant contributions to
archaeology in the Americas made by individual who has had little if
any formal training in archaeology and little if any wage or salary
as an archaeologist. The award is named after Don Crabtree of Twin
Falls, Idaho, who made significant contributions to the study of
lithic technology and whose dedication to archaeology was a lifelong
personal and financial commitment. The awardees have been:

1985 Clarence H. Webb, MD
1987 Leonard W. Blake
1988 Julian Dodge Hayden
1989 J. B. Sollberger
1990 Ben C. McCary
1991 James Pendergast
1992 Stuart W. Conner
1993 Mary Elizabeth Good
1994 Leland W. Patterson
1995 Jeff Carskadden
1996 James H. Word
1997 Sidney Merrick Wheeler (posthumous)
and Georgia Nancy Wheeler Felts
1998 Reca Jones
1999 Gene L. Titmus
2000 Richard P. Mason
2001 John D. "Jack" Holland
2002 Richard A. Bice
2003 Dr. Guillermo Mata Amado

TED ORCUTT






TED ORCUTT FLINTKNAPPER OF THE WHITE DEAR DANCE BLADES.
BY RAY HARWOOD



Ted Orcutt, The Karok Master, King of the Flintknappers. at the he
turn of the last century there were many flintknappers working at
their craft. One of these knappers stands out among the rest as he
carried on a sacred tradition, the white deer knapper. The White Deer
knapper had the honor of knapping the massive obsidian blades for the
world renewal ceremony known as the White Deer Dance. The White Deer
Dance was very a huge undertaking and organizers spent years planning
for one event. The event was not only time and labor intensive but
was also financially very costly. To make things work out, each tribe
took a turn hosting the event that often lasted 3 solid days. The
actual dance involved dancers carrying stuffed albino dear skins on
polls followed by obsidian dancers that carried a set of two- twin,
massive obsidian bi-faced blades tied in the middle with a buck skin
thong. He who knapped the sacred, giant, ceremonial blades for the
Karok, Hupa and Yurok was a man of honor. The man who last held this
honor was known as king of the flintknappers, he was Theodore Orcutt.
Theodore Orcutt was born February 25, 1862 near the Karok Indian
settlement of Weitchpec on the Klamath River. Weitchpec is now at the
upper or north edge of the Hoopa Valley Indian Reservation in
northern California. His mother was a full blooded Karok Indian, born
at the Karok settlement of Orleans, Oleans is only a short distance
from Weitchpec on Hwy 96, his father was a Scotsman. Theodore's
father, Albert Stumes Orcutt had fair skin, blue eyes and light hair
and was about 5.11 inches tall and ran Orcutt Hydraulic on the South
fork of the Salmon River at Methodist creek, Albert came to this area
from Maine where he was carpenter, although he had been a sailor
earlier in life. Later in life Albert had a small farm and Orchard on
the Klamath River.
Theodore's mother, Panamenik -Wapu Orcutt, was closer to 5 foot 6
inches , with jet black hair, brown eyes and dark skin. His mother
had the characteristic traditional female Karok tattoo on her chin, 3
vertical strait lines. At adolescence all traditional Karok girls had
their chin tattooed with three vertical lines, or stripes. Using a
sharp obsidian tool, soot and grease were stitched into the skin, the
same tattoo was on the biceps. The tattooing was for several purposes
all relating to gender and Klan affiliation. She was considered a
good cook and hard worker, she could make baskets, new the ins and
outs of herbalism and acted on occasion as a midwife. She also spoke
both the Hokan language and English. Theodore's mother stayed close
to him all his life and even in old age she made trips to visit with
him. His mother lived to the advance age of 107 years old.
In about 1865 young Theodore was given his Indian name, "Mus-su-peta-
nac" translated to English means "Up-River-Boy", Karok traditional
names were not given for several years after birth so if the child
died at a young age they would not be remembered by name and the
grieving would be less. The infant mortality rate for Karok in the
late 1800s was not good, at the Federal census of 1910 there were
only 775 Karoks living in 200 Karok homes.
As a child, Theodore road his pony to the local one room school house
and was a quite and good student. He was a quit boy and a very good
writer, had excellent penmanship and was well read, he was, however
largely self taught, because of his many other obligations. He helped
around the house and was diligent in his chores. While the country
was celebrating its first centennial, 1876, Ted was 14 years old and
had begun his flintknapping apprenticeship with his Karok uncle "Mus-
sey-pev-ue-fich" , his mother's brother, whom was a master
flintknapper and was considered the village specialist. It was a
great honor for Ted to be chosen to such a prestigious mentor (mentor-
a wise and trusted counselor) and he practiced when ever he could.
The raw material of choice for stone workers in northern California
at the time was obsidian. Obsidian is a volcanic, colored glass,
usually black, which displays curved lustrous surfaces when
fractured. According to Carol Howe (1979) "the amount of control that
a skilled workman can exercise over obsidian is amazing. Teodore
Orcutt, a Karok Indian, one lived at Red Rock near Dorris,
California. He learned the arrowhead maker's art from his father, who
was the village specialist. The giant blade in figure 1, now in the
Nevada Historical Museum at Reno, Nevada, is an example of his work,
though not ancient, it represents the almost lost hertage of an
ancient art. Orcutt told Alfred Collier of Klamath Falls that it took
years of practice for him to became proficient."
While still in his teens he began to master the art of flintknapping.
First he learned the percussion method of knapping (Percussion method-
the act of creating some implements by controlled impact flake
detachment) and after several years he could reduce a fairly large
mass of obsidian into a flat plate like biface (biface-a large spear
head shaped blank with flake scars covering both faces), he was also
becoming more adapt to the pressure flaking techniques with a hand
held antler tine compressor (Pressure flaking- a process of forming
and sharpening stone by removing surplus material with pushing
pressure- in the form of flakes using an antler tine). His
arrowheads, spear points and other flint work became quite nice and
he began to experiment with eccentric forms and often knapped
butterfly, dog, eagles and other zoomorphic (zoomorphic-abstract
animal shaped art) and anthropomorphic (anthropomorphic-abstract
human shaped art) forms out of fine quality, fancy obsidians provided
to him by his uncle. He was also in his teens when he learned the art
of bead weaver, brain tanning of hides and arrowsmithing.
In 1885, Ted was 23 years old and spend nearly all his time after
work flintknapping and crafting traditional Karok items. It was at
this age that one morning Ted's uncle told him to get his bed roll as
he was now ready to participate in the sacred act of collecting
lithic material. This was an honor that Ted had looked forward to for
many years and he was very excited. Ted ran back to tell his mother
but she was already standing outside with Ted's bed role and some
food she had prepared.
Their first few lithic collecting trips were to Glass Mountain, near
Medicine Lake in eastern Siskiyou County, California. Ted was aware
that not only the obsidian collecting was important but the
cerimonialism involved in doing so as well. Obsidian mining was
something that had been done by hundreds of generations of Karok and
it was not to be taken lightly. Before white mining laws came about,
Native Americans relied on the concept of "neutral ground", even
tribes which were bitter enemies could meet at the obsidian quarries
and share knapping and lithic information.
As their buckboard wagon arrived at the obsidian outcrop, Ted jumped
out of his seat down into the dark damp soil, his boots leaving
imprints in the half dried mud, it was early spring and the grass was
vibrant green. Black obsidian chips glistened and sparkled all over
the land scape. When Mus-su-petafich showed young Ted how to mine and
quarry obsidian he first left an offering of tobacco, when he
performed lithic reduction (lithic-greek for stone, term most often
used in science, reduction-the miners often made preformed artifact
blanks to lessen the bulk for transport) Mus-su-petafich drove the
obsidian flakes off the core with a soft hammer stone. Large blocks
of obsidian were quarried by splitting them off giant boulders with
the use of fire. Mus-su-petafich would build a bon fire against the
rock. As each flake came off, no matter what the method of
extraction, he would set it in a pile and categorized them as his
ancestors had and said "this one is for war, this one is for bear,
this one is for deer hunting, this one is for trade, this one is for
sale". The various piles were kept separate until they were knapped
to completion and were all set aside for their original purpose. Mus-
su-petafich told Ted why each flake (or spall) had a special purpose
based on its form, structure, fracture-ability, texture, hardness and
color. There was a different Karok word for each type and variability
in the obsidian. Red obsidian was considered ritually poison and
these were usually saved for war or revenge, at this time in history
many of the customs had changed and Mus-su-petchafich made beautiful
points for sale and trade with varieties of obsidian that were once
reserved for the kill. There were numerous instances when Mus-su-
petchafich had to obtain subsurface, unweathered material, but these
were for the most part small pit mines.
It took Ted many years of mentoring with his uncle before he began to
fully understand the Karok lithic tradition. The two men made
thousands of arrowheads, lithic art and traditional Karok costumes
and marketed them, not only to traditional Indians but also, to a
wealthy eastern clientele. As Ted got older flintknapping became an
obsession, nearly all his extra time was spent either collecting
extravagant lithic material or flintknapping, in bad whether and at
night he would plan his strategy for some lithic challenge he was
working on and his quest for every better lithic material began
taking him farther and farther from home. Oregon's Glass buttes,
Goose Lake, Blue Mt., in Northern California, Battle Mountain
Chalcedony in Nevada Opal, agate and jasper from the coastal areas
and the inland deserts. On several occasions Ted Orcutt made trips to
Wyoming, the Dakotas and many locations in Utah and Idaho where he
would find specific lithic materials for special orders. Herb Wynet
was Orcutt's traveling partner and "sidekick" on many of these trips
and Herb would do all the driving so his friend "Theo" could gaze out
the car window at the country-side. Ted could look at the geology and
topography of an area if he had been there before or not and give a
good prediction, with great accuracy, where the lithic material would
be, he was correct nearly every time. On these trips Orcutt kept a
list of artifact orders on hand, this way he knew what lithic
material to get and what to focus on at his afternoon knapping
sessions on the road. In this manor Ted never fell behind on his
orders while on his flint hunting adventures. In 1902 Ted moved to
Red Rock Valley near Mount Hebron he was now 40 years old and his
percussion biface knapping was becoming better than ever. In the
earlier years Ted and his uncle had made I name for themselves among
the Native Americans in their area by knapping the large White Dear
Dance ceremonial blades for the White Deer Dance Rituals, Ted was now
challenged by these massive blades and he had a compulsive need to go
ever larger and more spectacular using many varieties of flint and
obsidian to make ever more elaborate pieces. By 1905, at age 43
Orcutt was knapping hundreds of obsidian blades of massive size, his
command over the percussion method of knapping was now unrepressed in
the history of the world.
In 1911 Ted was 49 years old when he got the job of postmaster of the
Tecnor post office in Red Rock. It was August of the same year that
Ted sat on the wooden bench outside his house and read about Ishi in
the local newspaper, the whole thing with Ishi took place only a few
miles from Ted's house, curiously, the Hokan language family
encompasses both Yahi (Ishi's language) and Karok (Orcutt's
language). It was a local joke to Ted people would say "hey Theo, did
you hear Mr. Ishi is the last arrow head maker!"
Ted was self-educated, read a good deal and by all accounts wrote a
good hand. The job as postmaster was taxing and left little idle time
to knap stone so in 1926, at the age of 62, he gave up the postmaster
job and began hauling mail from Mt. Hebron, at Technor, in Red Rock
Valley, first with horse and buggy and later in a Model T Ford, which
Ted bought new. During this time Orcutt was knapping more than ever
and was selling items through out the eastern United States, Europe
and Museums through out the world. He had well received exhibitions
at the California State Fair in Sacramento, a permanent display in
the Memorial Flower Shop in Woodland, California and he had shipped
his points to many hundreds of museums and collectors. He had a claim
where he mined obsidian near Wagontire, Eastern Oregon. It was in
this period also that Ted's ceremonial blades went from the 30 inch
long giants to the 48 inch long monsters that made gave him the
title "king of the flintknappers". This same time period Ted took a
half ton block of glass Mountain obsidian and carefully and precisely
knapped a 48 1/2 inch long ceremonial knife, which was 9 inches wide
and only 1-3/4 inch thick. This massive bifaced blade still hold the
world record for size, it rests in the Smithsonian Institute, a
similar one is in the Nevada Historical Museum at Reno, Nevada. In
the Natural History museum in Sacramento there is a massive
collection of large Orcutt blades, 176 in all, they are in an old box
marked "source unknown". The Southwest Museum in Los Angeles has many
Orcutt blades and also some of the White Deer Dance costumes Ted
made. As for the 48 inch blade, one witness to the giant blade
manufacture heard Ted speak really softly while working on the giant
blade, " I get awful nervous when I'm working on this, I'm afraid
I'll break it just before I finish."
It was not entirely unheard of for a collector to find a giant piece
of a broken Orcutt bi-face. In 1983, I worked with Jerry Gates of the
U.S. Forest service in Modoc County, in northern, California. My
duties included surveys near the huge obsidian deposits at Lava Beds
National Park in Lassen, County, California. I observed many chipping
site, several were not ancient. One site had both obsidian flake
scatters in context with old condensed milk cans, log cabin syrup
cans and Prince Albert Tobacco cans. I still recall that the flakes
were large percussion thinning flakes that appeared to be from biface
reduction and were of an opaque green material. I was told by a local
that he thought old sheep herders tried their hand at knapping in the
early 1900s, but I had a different theory, I stood over the site,
camp fire ring in the center can dump off to the side and reduction
type flake refuse and I knew this is where Ted sat, perhaps with his
uncle and reduced his preforms for transport back to the Somesbar
area where Ted Lived at the time. At another such site I observed my
first look at an Orcutt biface, it was just the base, and was a full
5 inches wide and an inch thick. The broken piece was 10 inches long
and it was evident that it was less than half the piece. Jerry Gates,
U.S.F.S. archaeologist in Modoc showed me yet another large fragment
that was covered with lake moss, it was about a foot wide, less than
an inch thick and about a foot and a half long- it was only a small
piece of the mid section. The giant biface fragments were broken
during flintknapping procedures. The giant bifacially flaked blades
broke, most likely, from the effect of end shock, which is a
transverse fracture caused by the obsidian exceeding its' elastic
limits, when the impact is made. Failure of the material to rebound
and recoil before desired fracture occurs, caused the preforms to
snap apart in the center sections. End shock is the reason few
knappers can make large percussion bifaces.
In May, 1946 Ted was 84 years old he moved to the L.D. Parson's
Ranch, Ted still did quite a bit of knapping at the ranch and
performed his duties including maintaining, grooming and shoeing the
horses. Theodore Orcutt passed away later that year ending the rain
of the "king of the flintknappers." Even today at the site of the old
Parson's Ranch obsidian erodes silently from the earth where Ted left
his waste flakes and stash. Unnoticed boulders of the material set as
a silent and forgotten testament to the master Deer Dance Knapper.
I have been asked several times in the last 25 years weather
flintknapping was actually ever a true lost art. Flintknapping is one
of the oldest crafts in the world and it is also one of the most
enduring and actually was never lost. Many knappers, both in the
Brandon gun flint factories and the reservations of the American
Indian, it was never lost, it was interest in it that was lost but
not the craft itself. Even the master Ted Orcutt did not leave this
world without leaving his knowledge and is rumored to have had
several devout students over his live time. One known student of
Orcutt was Fred Herzog . Fred met Ted Orcutt in the late 1920s while
both were working at Lew Parson's ranch and lumber mill in Oal
Valley. According to Fred Herzog (1959) "Teds skill was beyond all
imagination as he made points from 2/16 of an inch up to large spear
points two feet long." Some speculate that Dr. Don Crabtree, whom
knapped in the same style as Orcutt, may have met or at least
observed Orcutt at work. Crabtree was known to have lived and worked
in the northern California area during Orcutt's later years. Crabtree
came to be known as the "Dean of American Flintknapping". Crabtree
himself had hundreds of students and some of them are prominent
knappers and archaeologists today. It is possible that while watching
Crabtree's students we are seeing the Orcutt knapping style as it
once was.
After Theodore Orcutt passed away several have searched for clues to
his legacy. Carol Howe, Eugene Heflin and myself. Eugene wrote a book
called Up River Boy, but after Eugene passed away the book was never
published. I am still seeking information and if you have any -
please let me know. I published an article about Eugene's search for
Ted in Indian artifact Magazine in 2001.