Monday, April 29, 2013

Plans and Profiles: Frédéric Dussault Researching the Archaeoentomology of Dorset Palaeoeskimo Sites in Newfoundland

Frédéric Dussault in a still standing sod house in
Qaqaitsut, Greenland. Photo: Erika Sakrison.
Frédéric Dussault is a PhD student in the Archaeology Department at Memorial University of Newfoundland who is studying northern cultures in a rather novel way; he is examining the insect remains found in archaeological sites to reconstruct past environments and people's lifestyles.  Many types of insects occupy very specific environmental niches and so by finding and identifying those insects in an archaeological context researchers like Frédéric can tease our clues to the past plants, animals and humans that once lived in an area.  

Plans and Profiles #15. Frédéric Dussault, Archaeoentomology on Dorset Palaeoeskimo sites in Newfoundland

1) Tell me a little bit about your project.

I am still in my first year of the PhD program at MUN and I will be undertaking my first field season for my research this summer, but I will try to summarize it as much as I can.

Animal ectoparasites can be used as witness to
the presence of the animal. The picture is a
dog louse that i recovered from samples from
Dogs Island in Labrador (HeCg-08).
Over the course of the next years, I intend to study the sites of Port au Choix and Stock Cove using different environmental proxies that I will recover from soil samples taken on both sites. More specifically I will be working with insect remains, as well as macro and micro botanical remains, such as seeds and pollens. I will be examining these previously neglected data in order to develop a comprehensive, holistic model of the settlement selection pattern of the Dorset in Newfoundland. The environmental proxies that I chose for the analysis will allow me to better our understanding of the Dorset impact on the environment of Port au Choix, but also examine alternate economic sources of the Dorset. Finally, over the course of my research I will attempt to assess the role of women, children and elders in the Dorset culture (genders, non-biological, cultural construct).

2) How did you become interested in this particular problem?

Picture of the Cape Grinnell site in
Greenland, where I worked on Inuighuit
structures for my MA.
I can't remember precisely how it came up, as it is the result of a reflection taking place over years while I was in the field and while finishing my master's degree at Université Laval. Since the BA I was interested in environmental archaeology and more particularly archaeoentomology. However, I came to realize that very little work had been done on the different arctic cultures, except maybe the Norse in Greenland. Archaeoentomology was not the only subject that was barely applied on arctic and subarctic site, the same applied to archaeobotanical analyses. At some point, I finally read an article by Cynthia Zutter, where she reviewed the use of plants on Thule sites in Labrador. This article made me wonder why would the Dorset in Newfoundland, a usually high arctic culture, not take advantage of this really different environment. Zutter's paper made me realize that there is more to Dorset population than architecture, bones and artefacts.

3) What would be the best case scenario for your upcoming season(s) of fieldwork?

Human louse found in samples from the Cape Grinnell site.
The field season will start at Port au Choix and I hope to be able to go to Stock Cove too. Going to both sites this summer would be great. It would allow me to sample the natural environment around the sites, as well as any structures or middens that will be excavated. I would then be able to start the treatment of the soil samples and  the identification of remains as soon as possible. I hope to build a reference collection of beetles found near the sites during the field season. It will inform about the local insect species and help in the identification of insect remains. So, first, I hope I’ll be able to sample both sites and, second, I hope for nice weather and a buggy summer ! The crew is probably going to hate for the buggy part....

4) If you could ask the people who lived at your site(s) one question what would it be?

That is a good one. I think I would ask them how they perceive their environment, what do they think of the forest, the landscape and even how do they feel about the insects around them. During my MA, I read about the oral tradition of the Greenland Inuits and I became fascinated with it. It is so rich and full of information about the perception of insects and the relation past humans had with them. I would like to know if the Dorset simply hated insect or if they had a use for them? Are there stories, myths or legends relating to the different insects, what was their role in the myths and stories ? I probably would end up asking them about their food, I love to know what people eat and know how they prepare it.

Whale bone comb that was found during the field work in Qaqaitsut, Greenland, the second site I was studying for my MA.

5) Why did you choose Memorial University of Newfoundland?

Although we were at Cape Grinnell to excavate Inughuit
houses, we had the chance to dig older houses,
such as this Indepedence I structure.
The first reason that comes to my mind when I think of why I chose MUN is for my advisor, Dr. Renouf. Many of my past collegues hold her in really high esteem and recommended working with her. During my MA, I knew about the Dorset culture, but they never were the focus of my research in Greenland. Following email exchange with her and conversation with professors in Université Laval, I became more and more intrigued with the Newfoundland Dorset population. The site of Phillip's Garden has been studied for so many years now that some might think that there isn't much left to learn about the site, but I thought quite the opposite. The site is unique and the quantity of information available from previous research is astonishing, but very little environmental archaeology has been done on the site. I thought it would be an ideal place to begin environmental archaeology in Newfoundland ! Lets add another layer of information to this very well known site !

The second reason why I chose MUN is the community. Over the last couple of years, different students from Laval and other people I know who have been coming over here for their research only gave positive feedback. Right from the start, when I met people from here and when I arrived last fall, I already felt at home. People are kind and really helpful.

6) How do you unwind when you need to get away from your research?

It depends. There is a lot of different ways I spend my downtime. One of the first things is videogames, either on the computer or on the PS3. They really allow me to disconnect completely from my research and everything related to it.

I also spend a lot of time in the kitchen. I used to be a chef and, even if I stopped cooking professionally and started school all over again, cooking remains a passion for me. Making good meals, spending time around the table with a good bottle of wine (or beer !), good food and friends are things I really enjoy. When I start cooking, I never know what will happen since I rarely use a recipe. I always end up with food for an army and having way too many leftovers.

Some people are obsessed with shopping for clothes or shoes. I my case, it is food. I always get excited when I discover new spices, new products and ways to prepare food. Finding a good bakery that makes the perfect loaf of bread or croissant is a moment of pure pleasure for me.

7) Do you have any lucky objects, functional or otherwise that you always take into the field with you?

Inughuit house that we excavated at Qaqaitsut in Greenland.
I don't have any lucky objects that I bring on the field. However, I bring books from the Wheel of time series every field seasons. It started in Greenland because a friend of mine lent me two of the books for the summer. Since then, I always bring two of them with me. I also bring insect identification field guides since you just never know what you might stumble upon!

8) What archaeological discovery or project do you wish you could have been part of?

I would have to say the mummies of Qilakitsoq. Since the end of my BA and all through my MA, the book The Greenland Mummies has always been on my desk. At first, I was interested by the entomological studies that they did on the bodies, but after reading the book, I was just amazed by how well they were preserved and how exceptional these find were.

9) What books or websites would you recommend if people want to learn more about your area of interest in general? Or your project in particular?

I think that the site of Port au Choix is well known and there is a lot of literature about this exceptional site, such as The Cultural Landscapes of Port au Choix Precontact Hunter-Gatherers of Northwestern Newfoundland. The introductory chapter, by Renouf (2011) gives a very good idea of the archaeological site, as well as the history of archaeological research.

Coleoptera (beetles) form the main body
of the insects we find in the samples.
Elytron of a Latridius minutus group
 found in a sample from the House B on
the Great Caribou Island, Labrador
However, I know from experience that, when I am discussing my project and what exactly I do, most people are more intrigued by the archaeoentomology. It is normal as it is not a very well known science. If people are interested in learning about archaeoentomology, I would recommend Scott Elias Advances in Quaternary Entomology (2010). This book is a must-read if you are interested in archaeoentomology, the history of the discipline, the methodology and many other things. You should read it ! Otherwise, there are many different papers that have been written on the subject of insects and archaeological sites. For those who would be interested in pushing the subject farther, there is the website of Phil Buckland ( which not only offers a nice program to help in archaeoentomology, but also a very up to date bibliography about archaeoentomological science (link to bibliography

Elias, S. A.
2010. Advances in Quaternary Entomology. Development in Quaternary Sciences 12. Elsevier, Amsterdam.

Renouf, M. A. P.
2011. Introduction: Archaeology at Port au Choix. In The Cultural Landscapes of Port au Choix Precontact Hunter-Gatherers of Northwestern Newfoundland, edited by M. A. P. Renouf, pp. 1-21. Springer, New York.


Can I interview you about your research? Perhaps you have a student or colleague whose work you feel should be profiled.  Please get in touch

Photo Credits:
Frédéric Dussault unless otherwise noted in the captions
Plans and Profiles Banner, Tim Rast based on a linocut by Lori White

Friday, April 26, 2013

An Antler Tipped Palaeoeskimo Pressure Flaker Reproduction

Antler harpoon head blanks and
the pressure flaker tip and wood handle
I was able to get one order out the door yesterday and have another small order completed, except for a bit of drying and then shipping.  I spent most of my workshop time this week working bone and antler, including an antler tipped version of a Dorset Palaeoeskimo pressure flaker.  This is the same design as the walrus bone flakers that I made last spring, but  this one is made from antler for a customer in the US, to avoid that countries marine mammal import ban.

The pressure flaker tip is designed to
be scarfed into an open socket on
the wooden handle.
Incidentally, I summarized the write-ups that I posted on this blog about the walrus bone Palaeoeskimo pressure flaker reproductions for the Provincial Archaeology Office's 2012 Archaeology Review.  You can find it on pages 132-134 of the .pdf report.  I appreciate the PAO letting me include some of the experimental work that I do throughout the year in these reports.  My write-ups are usually summaries taken from blog posts, but I think are a little easier for people to cite in their own research than referencing blog posts.

The walrus bone flaker on the left, next to the antler flaker on the right.  The antler flaker tip is a little narrower and probably slightly closer to the original artifact dimensions than the more robust walrus bone tool.

I'm using sinew and hide glue lashing on the pressure flaker.  When you use these tools for an extended time the lashing will get a little sticky, but I haven't had any problems with them coming loose.  I'd like to try a baleen lashed version in the future, although that's not really feasible for this particular reproduction because it is destined for an American client and baleen is a marine mammal part.

Rast, Tim
2013 Dorset Palaeoeskimo walrus bone pressure flaker: Observations after one year of use. in Provincial Archaeology Office's 2012 Archaeology Review. Edited by Stephen Hull. Vol 11:132-134

Photo Credits: Tim Rast

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Finishing bone hair pins

Bird headed pins,
caribou bone and sealskin
In the studio, I've been finishing a small set of Maritime Archaic bone hairpin reproductions.  These are made from caribou long bones, with bark tanned sealskin barrettes.  I wind up making a few of these every year - here's a blog post from 2009 that explains a little bit more about their age and significance.  They are still a favourite reproduction for me, because they can be made and used exactly the same way that they were used 3 or 4 thousand years ago.  If I make a harpoon, its more than likely that it will be hung on a wall or used in a teaching environment.  More often than not, the arrowheads that I make end up on necklaces or earrings,  which isn't how they were used in the past, but with these bird headed pins, they are used by people today for the same purpose that they were originally designed.  I like that sense of continuity.

Some of them get red ochre stained,
while I leave others natural bone white
Around the house and yard, the spring cleaning is still going on as well.  We have a bulk garbage pick-up scheduled for tomorrow, but the pile of junk on our sidewalk isn't as impressive as I thought it might be.  We have a neighbour doing some renovations next door and in the last week, he's taken a lot of our backyard debris to the dump for us with all the building materials he's been tearing out of his house.  But at least we're getting rid of stuff one way or another.

Cutting the barrettes out of sealskin.  I don't know if the Maritime Archaic Indians would have used the pins with a barrette or if they would have just been stuck into a wound up bun of hair. 
Photo Credits: Tim Rast

Monday, April 22, 2013

Spring cleaning

Water damage sucks
I'm still poking away at orders and editing papers, but its really starting to feel like spring here and I've been puttering around the house working on little projects that have been on my mind or in the way throughout the winter.  I'm really not the sort of person who procrastinates by cleaning (my office is proof of that) but for some reason the jobs around the house and yard are seeming more interesting to me than my actual work at the moment.  We had a recurring leak in the kitchen ceiling for an embarrassingly long time and last November it finally came to a head with big patches of paint and plaster falling down.  I tore out a big section of the ceiling to try and find the source of the water.  It turned out that all of the fittings in the bathtub upstairs were leaking and needed to be repaired.  Its been several months now since there has been any sign of a leak, so I'm patching up the hole in the ceiling.  There are a few more sanding and plaster layers to go before its ready to paint, but this is already a big improvement over the gaping black void in the kitchen ceiling and the previous water damage.

It still needs sanding, more drywall compound and paint, but at least there's no more hole or leak.

Photo Credit: Tim Rast

Friday, April 19, 2013

Hafted Obsidian Arrowhead Necklaces

Obsidian necklace
I'm continuing to work on flintknapped jewellery this week for wholesale orders.  Here are a couple photos of hafted arrowhead necklaces made from obsidian, hardwood, artificial sinew and epoxy.  I don't use artificial sinew and epoxy very often when I'm making reproductions, but it makes sense in this context because of how it will wear relative to real sinew and hide glue.  Sinew and hide glue creates a very tough bond, but its not water resistant.  The epoxy and artificial sinew are much more durable and these necklaces are designed to last a lifetime without the glue or binding breaking down or deteriorating.

A bit of iron in the lava flow creates a stone with swirling red flames.  These necklaces retail for $28.75 CDN.

Photo Credits: Tim Rast

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Knapped Chert Earrings

Recent Indian
"Little Passage"
Points in local chert
I'm making small progress on lots of little jobs, but hopefully I'll start knocking some items off my to-do lists that are a little more substantial than replying to e-mails.  The earrings are done, and mostly carded on hang tags, although I need one more card for the last pair of earrings and I'm out of card stock, which means a trip to pick up stationary.  When I'm not knapping, I'm reading and writing.  There are a couple papers that I'm involved with nearing completion and its my turn to give some input.   I find writing academic papers very difficult.  Next to rats, putting something together for peer review is probably one of my biggest phobias.

Recent Indian, Groswater Palaeoeskimo and Dorset Palaeoeskimo reproduction earrings.  The jewellery has become a smaller part of my business, but its still important.
Photo Credits: Tim Rast

Monday, April 15, 2013

Spring flowers and orders

The bulbs are up.
We've been getting alternating days of spring and winter for the past few weeks, but the spring days seem to be winning.  It was sunny and warm today and the bulbs we planted last fall are popping up through the dead grass, wood chips, and cigarette butts that have melted out of the backyard.  Spring cleaning time, I guess.

Ready to sign 
Back in the shed, I'm still plugging away at a few Beothuk arrowheads and Groswater and Dorset endblades for a jewellery order for a store in Gros Morne.  I should be able to get the whole order wrapped up well before the end of the week and move on to some other projects.  With the nice weather it was a little easier to get motivated to head outside to work today.

These points will all be turned into earrings for Java Jacks in Rocky Harbour.

Photo Credits: Tim Rast

Friday, April 12, 2013

The Dorset Parka Skins Are In

Rangifer tarandus skins
I have the skins now for the Dorset Palaeoeskimo parka reproduction.  It took a little longer than I'd anticipated, but I'm pretty happy with what I have on hand now.  These are reindeer hides, not caribou, although both old world reindeer and new world caribou are the same species of deer; rangifer tarandus, so they are essentially the same thing.  Given the state of the caribou herds in Newfoundland and Labrador at the moment, the most realistic option I had available was to use imported reindeer hides.

Soft, soft, soft
I had planned to pick up the skins on my recent trip to Alberta at a leather and fur supplier in Calgary.  They had excellent prices and I wanted to see the skins in person to make my selections.  As soon as I landed in Calgary, I drove straight to the fur supplier and sure enough, he had a warehouse full of skins of all shapes and sizes.  I couldn't see the reindeer skins in my walk around the store and when I asked him about them he said; "You're about two days too late.  Two film production companies were in the area and bought 10 skins from me at the start of the week. I'm out."  I was gutted.  I called all over Alberta while I was there and I couldn't find anybody else that had any skins at a good price.  I came home empty handed.

The skins are imported and sold as rugs
Last week, I went back to searching online and found Te-Ri Products.  They don't have their prices published, but I have used them in that past for other rangifer tarandus projects and when I contacted them and explained the project, they gave me very good prices. When the skins arrived yesterday and I had a chance to start thinking about assembling them, I think I could use another hide or two, so I ordered two more straight away.  They should arrive in the next couple of weeks.

I'll plan the pattern on the
table cloth skins, before
cutting the hides.
The Dorset Parka needs to be big enough to squat in and I think I'll use two whole skins for the front and back.  A third (and possibly fourth) skin will be needed to add pleats to the sides, make the sleeves and the collar.  I suspect that if I wanted to do a lot of sewing, I could come up with enough bits and pieces from just these three skins to make the whole parka, using strips for the sleeves and sides, but I want the extra hides to be safe.  I should have a better idea as I start cutting and experimenting with patterns.  I've traced the outlines of the three skins onto plastic table clothes from the dollar store.  I'll use these to plan out the the cuts and assemble a technicolour raincoat before I start cutting and sewing the actual hides.

Photo Credits: Tim Rast

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Back in the shed, briefly

Endblade preforms made on
Newfoundland chert
Today is one of those days where the only motivation that I can find to pull myself away from the computer and head out to the shed to do some actual work is the need to take a photo or two to stick up on this blog.  So here they are; photographic proof that for a few minutes this afternoon I did something constructive, made some headway on spring orders, and escaped the backlog morass of e-mails, writing, random Youtube clips and tax returns that I've been mired in for the first half of this week. I made it outside and knapped a few chert preforms.

I have a couple interesting orders to work on that are full of Palaeoeskimo and Maritime Archaic reproductions.  It shouldn't take too long to get back into the swing of things, but for now, I turned a few chert flakes into preforms.
Photo Credits: Tim Rast

Monday, April 8, 2013

Moving towards a Newfoundland and Labrador Archaeological Society

Baby steps, baby steps...
A few weeks ago I came back from Alberta, where I was working with the Archaeological Society of Alberta (ASA) and talking with several of the archaeologists in that province about their experience volunteering with the ASA.  Back in St. John's, I found that a lot of archaeologists here have also wondered why we don't have a society in this province that bridges the professional side of the discipline with interested members of the public.  It seems like we are missing out on opportunities to foster public interest in archaeology and build connections between the public and professionals that would benefit everyone.

Steve. Always digging up
something interesting.
At the end of March, I posed the question on this blog "Should Newfoundland and Labrador have an Archaeological Society?".  Steve Hull helped spread the word and we asked other archaeologists and the public for feedback through this blog, Facebook, e-mails and other conversations.  The feedback that we got was overwhelmingly supportive, both within the province and from archaeologists across the country who would love to build links with an organized Newfoundland and Labrador Archaeological Society.  A large percentage of the people who supported the idea offered to volunteer their time as well and this past Saturday, we had our first face-to-face meeting to brainstorm for ideas and begin plotting a course for setting up the society.  We had a wide cross-section of the local archaeological community turn out ranging from MUN faculty and students, provincial government archaeologists, the private sector, consultants, collections managers, as well as policy planners.  There were people at the table with experience throughout the province, including Labrador, as well as those with national and international backgrounds.

We don't want to duplicate what is already being done, but
we could co-operate with and help community organizations.
In total, there were sixteen of us at the meeting to discuss the potential role that an archaeological society could fill in this province.  We quickly agreed that we were all interested in donating our time and experience to helping establish an organization that would be open to professional archaeologists, students, and the public.  We want a society that anyone with an interest in archaeology in Newfoundland and Labrador would feel welcome to join and where being a member would be a fun experience.  We scheduled another meeting in a month's time and will be using e-mail and Facebook to continue the discussion and share ideas.  Between now and the next meeting, we'll be gathering information on potential funding sources, membership structures, and the nuts and bolts of incorporating a society as well as drafting a mission statement and settling on a name for the society.  Our first goal is to draft a plan that outlines a set of reasonable steps for moving forward over the coming months and years.

Killer Whale Effigy at The Rooms
If you have ideas, time, or energy to commit to helping get this off the ground please get in touch.  The shape of this society will be determined by the volunteers who come forward now and by the members that we recruit down the road.  If you have an opinion, let us know.  You can e-mail me at:

Photo Credits: Tim Rast

Friday, April 5, 2013

This little piggy went to St. John's...mostly

How could I leave this face behind?
It seems like a lot of things are shifting around this week. After a month or more of travelling, workshops and demos, I'm done with that side of the business for the time being and beginning next week I'll be back in the studio filling spring orders.  And by studio, I mean shed.  The day before I left St. John's for the flintknapping workshops in Calgary and Edmonton, I found out that the farm had sold and that this would be my last chance to go through my belongings and collect what I wanted to keep.  I had to make some hard choices.

I took a picture of my pallet in Calgary before it shipped.  The big green trunk was my mom's hope chest. My dad was a farmer and both my mom and stepmom worked in hospitals, so even the herbicide and adult diaper boxes that my stuff is packed in are oddly nostalgic.  The box monogramed with my intials "TR" is just a coincidence.

Grandma Rast's sewing machine
The week that I spent on the farm was a busy one, sorting and packing boxes and then shipping a pallet of keepsakes back to Newfoundland.  This morning, Lori's dad was in town with his truck so we darted out to the freight depot and I brought home my boxes.  I've started sorting through them, and so far I've only spotted a single cracked plate, so I'm counting the shipping as a success.  Its mostly photos and papers and books.  I've been bringing back stuff a suitcase at a time for the past few years, but this time I shipped out a big trunk that my mom always had filled with linens and keepsakes at the foot of her bed and an old Singer sewing machine that belonged to my dad's mother.  I'm not sure exactly how old the sewing machine is, but I believe this model started production in the 1890s.

He was too good of a friend to abandon, so I gutted him and kept his skin.  I might leave him as a throw rug in front of the fireplace or taxidermy him back together again.  I do have a sewing machine now.

Photo Credits: Tim Rast

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Hafting with MUNArch

Obsidian scraper on softwood handle
Tonight is the last night of the three week crash course in flintknapping sponsored by MUNArch for archaeology students at Memorial University.  In the first two weeks we covered percussion and pressure flaking and now we are finishing up with hafting.  We are keeping it simple, using hide glue and spruce pitch with ochre for the glues and sinew, gut, and hemp cord for the lashing.  There are more than 25 students taking the workshop, so we split it up over two nights.  Here are some shots from last night's group.

Applying the pitch glue
The ingredient list for hafting can be a little intimidating for people just starting out with this sort of thing, but when you have everything collected, the actual process of attaching a handle or foreshaft to a stone tool is surprisingly simple.  I think that experimenting with hafting early on in your knapping education can help a new knapper skip through some early learning plateaus.  Actually trying to fit a handle onto a knife or point forces you to look at your tools from a more functional point of view.  There were students at last night's workshop who were touching up tools that looked finished a week ago, but that they realized could use a little more work in the hafting area when it came time to actually fit them on to a stick.  Even if they never try to tie another rock to a stick in their life, they understand some of the functional reasons why stone tools look the way they do.

Over the past few weeks, we've produced thousands of flakes and dozens of tools.  A lot of people at the first of two hafting sessions were able to haft two or more flakes or tools.

 There were a lot of good arrow or dart foreshafts finished
A very cool obsidian knife

A scraper and hafted projectile point
A little bit of work on the base of the foreshaft to fit it into a bamboo stake from a garden centre and you can have a serviceable spear or dart in no time.
Photo Credits: Tim Rast

Monday, April 1, 2013

Getting ready for hafting

Restocking spruce resin
After several late winter storms at the end of last week, we finally had a sunny break in the weather today.  I used the sunshine as an excuse to get outdoors and collect some branches and spruce resin for this week's hafting workshops.  It was a nice excuse to drive around and check out a few paths and trails around the city.

We need some green sticks
This is the third week for the MUNArch flintknapping workshops and we'll be focusing on hafting the stone tools produced in the previous weeks.  Its up to the students to decide what sorts of tools they want to make, but I suspect most will make arrow or dart foreshafts or knives.  I'll bring a mix of green and seasoned wood to the workshop because some wood is better suited to some jobs than others.  At the very least, I'm confident that everyone will be able to use the green boughs to make some Hoko knives.

Bamboo makes a good, quick mainshaft for dart and
arrowheads hafted onto a foreshaft.
I don't expect there will be enough time to make arrows or darts complete with mainshafts and fletching, but I think everyone who chooses to make a foreshaft can get one done.  Even in an urban environment, with very few woodworking tools, a foreshaft can be turned into a pretty convincing dart or spear by inserting it into a simple bamboo stake from a garden centre.  These stakes come in a variety of lengths and diameters, and I use them frequently for the atlatl darts that I play around with.  The stakes are hollow and can be trimmed to any length you like using a small handsaw or hacksaw.  If you need to expand the hole in the centre of the stake you can whittle it out with a small knife or awl.  I usually reinforce the ends with artificial sinew and epoxy, but any sort of string or cord will work.  Hemp gives a nice rustic look.  If you want to try adding flights to your dart, you can fletch a short length of doweling or a narrow bamboo stake and insert it in the opposite end.

The bamboo can split, so its a good idea to reinforce the end with some sort of wrapping.  In this case, I've use artificial sinew, held in place with epoxy.
To finish the dart, a short feathered section can be inserted in the opposite end.  If you are in a real hurry,  you can make the feathers out of duct tape on a piece of doweling.

 Photo Credits: Tim Rast

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