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2018 Craig Oda's Flintknapping Class
Write-up by Joan

About a year ago a tragic accident in a relatives family left a little boy without his father. I wanted to send this little guy something special; something a little boy would treasure but keep for the rest of his life. I belong to Puyallup's Gem and Mineral Club and rocks have become a great hobby for me. There I met Craig Oda, learned of his flint knapping skills and saw some of his beautiful work. I asked Craig if he could sell me a small arrow head that I could wrap and send to this little guy. Sure enough, he not only had one but refused any kind of pay. Recently, the club asked Craig to give a flint knapping class and I thought "Why not?".

There we sat, about 6 of us holding a piece of obsidian and watching Craig demonstrate techniques that looked easy enough but as I was to quickly learn would take a great deal of practice. He walked us through flaking with the tools he had. Shaping and creating platforms looked easy enough until I had to try them myself. I found myself repeating again and again, "What do I do now?" and with great patience, Craig would talk me through it, step by step. I bopped, abraded, broke and started over several different times all the while trying to make that material behave! It wasn't until I watched Craig pick up a piece of obsidian and so effortlessly work that piece of material into a tool that I would have been proud of did I understood what an art it was.

After I went home, I did a little research on flint knapping and read about "ancient inventiveness and creativity..., ...beautiful tools made from stone, ...primitive technology, ...stone artisans" Who would think a rock, some antlers and a leather pad would produce that kind of description? I read about like conchoidal fractures, percussion flaking, hard and soft hammers, core, platforms and more AND actually recognized some! I learned it's not just a product of North America but worldwide dating back over 2.5 million years! The earliest prehistoric tools surviving in Scotland (my ancestors) date from around 3000 BC. Holy Cow!

So I ordered a couple of boppers from Amazon. I looked at the broken arrowhead I'd brought home which no deer will fear (my baseline) and samples of Craig's work (my goal). I understood better that it is an ancient craft that developed as a need for survival but also an extremely important form of technology that aided in the evolution of man. I was so glad I went. Now I'm waiting for Boppers and then look out rocks! Thanks Craig!

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