Over the first weekend in November the Puget Sound Knappers hold their annual “knap-in.” This is where flint knappers gather for the weekend sharing their talents, tools and ideas while chipping out arrowheads, spear points, knife blades, and other “primitive” tools from flint or obsidian. While the weather can be brisk in November, as it was last weekend, these knap-ins are held in a cabin at Millersylvania State Park just south of Olympia, Washington. Knapping out arrowheads by the fireplace is a fine way to spend a chilly day.
But flint knapping isn’t all that goes on there. When Mike Nesbitt arrived at the knap-in on Sunday morning, the folks there were busy making rawhide drums, stretching wet rawhide over wooden hoops. And just a bit later, when most of the men were busy chipping flint, several of the gals gathered together while sewing or crocheting. Yes, their talk got to be on the noisy side until one of the guys said, “Can you hold it down. After all, we’re ‘knapping’ over here.”
And the food must be mentioned. In fact, the food is so plentiful it really can’t be described in just a short space. Lunches and dinners are provided and on Sunday, just after lunch, a beautiful chocolate cake was made in a Dutch oven.
Mick Hill was making a very impressive spear point from dark obsidian and every now and then he’d knock a good looking “chip” off of that spear point while getting it to the shape he wanted. Mike Nesbitt would take some of those chips and make them into arrowheads. After all, so many of those chips are just too good to be thrown away.
Mike knapped on the arrowheads for only about two hours and made three points. Those vary in both size and material, one of them being quite colorful. They might be attached to arrows someday, maybe even used in the field. Time will tell about that.
Attending one of these knap-ins is a real habit forming thing. This was Mike Nesbitt’s third time to go and he learns more about flint knapping every time. Participating in this knap-in is free and the only cost at this one is, perhaps, a donation to cover the cost of the food. And the Puget Sound Knappers have other events as well throughout the year which includes a trip and campout to the glass mountain area in Oregon, looking for more obsidian.
To find out more about flint knapping and easy way to do it is to go to flintknapping.com and look at the website. There are flint knapping clubs nationwide and that website has a good calendar of events.