Intro to Flintknapping Course (4-day)
Our existence today is largely due to our ancestors learning to control fire, and learning to turn ordinary objects (wood, bone, and stone) into extraordinary tools. Flintknapping is the art of turning stone into useable tools. The most important of which is a simple stone flake. These sharp flakes allowed us to process fish and game more efficiently, harvest plants, as well as manipulate wood resources to make friction fire sets more easily. It was the earliest predecessor of the knife. Other tools included scrapers, saws, and simple hand axes; progressing later to highly refined hafted stone axes, knives, and projectile points for the atlatl and later the bow and arrow.
Flintknapping has been referred to as the first language between humans. No matter where your ancestors are from, at some point in time they used stone tools. It is a skill that transcends geographical boundaries. It is a skill that we have relied on up until very recently. Stone tools have been used by our species and sub species for 3 million years; modern humans evolved 200,000 years ago and relied on stone tools until about 9000 years ago when we learned how to make metallic tools from copper. Iron was discovered only 3000 years ago. 500-600 years ago, Native Americans were using stone tools up until European contact.
In today’s modern world flintknapping is no longer a necessary skill, we have an abundance of metal and metal tools are abundant and easy accessible. However, the real value in learning this once critical skill is that it allows us to reconnect with our ancestors, to understand a skill that is millions of years old that in no small part made us who we are today. That connection is important to establish, and the skill is still important and useful for those whom have taken the time to reconnect and reclaim this skill.
Although we all see the images of beautiful arrowheads, stone knives, etc. across social media, it is important to understand that the ability to create those consistently (or at all) depends on having a solid foundation to build upon as you work through what experienced “knappers” call “time and tonnage”. Simply put, the artists who create those have a lot of time, years mostly, and have gone through a “ton” of rock gaining experience and skill. This course is designed to lay a solid foundation for you to work from. It is not an “arrowhead making” course.
Students will learn:
- Finding Knappable Stone
- Reading the Surface of the Rock
- Principles of Lithic Reduction
- Techniques: Percussion and Pressure Flaking
- Knapping Tools (Aboriginal and Modern Copper)
- First Strike Tools: A Sharp Flake
- Spalling and Coring
- Setting Platforms
- Thinning to Biface
- Biface Progression: Hand Axes and Knife Blades*
- Stone Tool Use
- Refinement of Useable Flakes to make Projectile Points*
*Please note that the ability to grasp the creation of a biface is the most critical foundational skill and is vital to progression into more refined tools such as a hand axe, knife blade, or projectile points. Making it to this level in such a short period of time is not always possible, but we will make every effort to get all students to this level during the 3.5-day course and time-permitting, will be able to get into biface refinement.
This workshop takes place in an outdoor setting with a Shade Cloud Shelter. Portable toilets and water will be available. There is no electricity or running water. Students may camp on site in the shelters of their choosing once the course starts, or at another location of your choosing. You may not camp on site the night prior to the event starting, and cannot remain and camp after course completion, so make arrangements to camp or stay nearby for those occasions. Food will not be provided for the workshop. You should arrive each day having had breakfast. We will stop for a short lunch break most days. Training will typically be over in the evening giving you time to eat dinner and relax until class starts the next day.
Students should expect the potential for cold, wet weather, and primitive field conditions. Cadre and staff will ensure safety at all times during the course.
Food will not be provided for this course.
There is no required packing list for this workshop. Please bring adequate clothing, shelter, food, and snacks for the duration of the course.
This course is currently limited to 15 students.
Please see our course cancellation policy HERE
Is there a prerequisite?
No. This workshop is open to beginners through advanced knappers.
Do I need gear?
Yes: camping gear, clothing and food to keep you comfortable for the duration of the workshop. Car or RV camping may be an option. Please email Training for details.
Will the weather be nice?
We certainly hope so, but we highly recommend being prepared for all weather!