Monday, March 17, 2014

Edmonton Flintknapping Workshop Wrap-Up 2014

New and familiar faces
What a workout!  I'm recovering this morning from a very enjoyable weekend flintknapping and ground stone ulu making workshop in Edmonton.  The workshop was sponsored by the Strathcona Archaeological Society, the Archaeological Society of Alberta and the University of Alberta's Anthropology Department.  I am very grateful to have been invited to participate in this event for the second year in a row, and especially for the hard work of Strathcona volunteers, Kurt, Peter, Sean and more who kept everything running smoothly.

It was a tough slate to work, so there were a lot of single hole ulu designs.

We had 16 participants on Saturday and 19 on Sunday
We had a good turnout on Saturday and even more people participated on Sunday. On the first day we covered the basics of flintknapping and then on Sunday people made and hafted their own drills and used them to make chipped and ground slate ulus.  I picked up two types of slate at Lowe's when I got into Edmonton on Friday and one variety was reasonably soft.  However, the one that most people wound up using was extremely tough.  The end product will be very sharp, durable ulus, but it was grueling work to get them all done by the end of the day.  Slate of this toughness is on the edge of the capability of an obsidian or dacite drill bit, which is good to know.  It was possible to drill the holes, but the tips became worn and polished very quickly and needed frequent resharpening.

cools designs

Brian working on his pump drill
One of the guys in the group made a pump drill with a flywheel that he shared with everyone.  This helped a lot with the drilling, and the one drill with a nephrite bit that I brought with me helped finish off a few more holes.

drilling, drilling, drilling
Tonight we move the show to Provost, where I'll be knapping with the Bodo Archaeological Society.  Tomorrow, I'll be back in Edmonton doing a demonstration and chatting with students about careers in archaeology at Grant MacEwan University before travelling to Red Deer on Wednesday to give an evening talk to the Archaeological Society of Alberta's Red Deer centre.  There's no time to get bored on this trip.

Sean (standing) was a huge help in making sure that everyone with a question got an answer.  I was happy to have the chance to work with him again this year.

Kurt, well-prepared and focused.

Pressure flaking the drillbits

Splitting the slate tiles.  If there was an upside to the tough slate, it was that it split quite well so by the time we got the chipping, grinding, and drilling stages, it was only half as thick as when we started on it.

more drilling

still drilling

It was great to see everyone.  We had good mix of experience and fresh enthusiasm in the room.
A rare double hole-r. 

A drill and an ulu.  Not a bad day's work.
Photo Credits: Tim Rast

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