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Obsidian Blades

To: alt.religion.wicca,alt.pagan,alt.magick,alt.religion.druid
From: (Ward Burrows)
Subject: Re: Obsidian Blades (was: "Re: A question...")
Date: 2 Dec 1995 07:11:34 GMT (John P. Raynor) writes:

>Christopher A. Chambers ( wrote:
>: I belive that they are called 'lancets', but I am unsure of the spelling.
>: I also remember doing the blood typing experiment back in HS biology.

>You might consider getting yourself a chunk of obsidian, and striking off 
>a few sharp, slender flakes.  This isn't particularly difficult, and it 
>might be easier to integrate a home-knapped stone blade into a ritual 
>context than one purchased at a pharmacy.  Obsidian blades, by the way, 
>are EXTREMELY sharp - a freshly-flaked one can, in fact, be sharper than 
>surgical steel (scanned electron microscopy shows this clearly).  
>Sterilization of the blade with alcohol would, however, be a good idea.

Good suggestion...  However, you didn't say how to flake the blade.  It 
isn't _quite_ as easy as it looks...  May I suggest a technique for making
the blade?  This is how I've made a stone axe head in the past, and how I 
plan to make an obsidian knife (as soon as I find a suitable piece of 
obsidian.)  This method is the "traditional" way - meaning this is how our
ancestors did it thousands of years ago.  In addition to historical 
accuracy, this technique seems to offer plenty of opportunities for ritual 
in its creation.  (I can't offer advice on that part I'm afraid...  I've only 
begun to study pagan beliefs recently.)

If you wish to flake a stone knife (or arrow head, or axe head) the 
traditional way, you will need:

 Stone pieces, preferably obsidian.  Use any other stone at your own risk!
 A small fire, use whatever fuel strikes your fancy. 
 Long metal tongs or pliers, preferably with an insulated handle.
 Insulated gloves.
 A container of water, with a spout.  Icewater, if possible.
 A Fire extinguisher, just in case. 
Now, start the fire.  When it is going well, pick up the obsidian with the
tongs, and heat the blade-to-be in the fire.  Get the blade nice and hot.
Once the blade is heated, drip one drop of water on the stone.  A flake 
should come off where the drop struck.  This is due to the thermal shock
when the droplet lands.  As is true for all solids, the hot stone shrinks
when it cools.  In this case, the stone cools (and contracts) so quickly 
that it cracks and flakes off.  Each water drop will take a flake off the
stone, and in this manner, the chunk of obsidian can be made into a blade.
It's best to keep the stone heated while watering it.  Either take it off,
put a few drops on, and put it back in the flame, or leave it on the fire
and drip, drip, drip...  There is a slight risk involved, not only from 
playing with fire, but also from the rock itself.  When the chips crack
off, they can do so at considerable velocity.  Rarely, the heated stone
itself can shatter.  The safety glasses are _not_ optional!  You might
also want coveralls, a smock, or an apron to protect your body from 
flying rock chips or flame.  If you don't have obsidian available, you 
might be able to use other stone.  If so, you want a hard stone, preferably
one that's brittle.  I made the axe-head out of granite.  I've heard 
_unconfirmed_ reports that this will work with jade...  I'd love to try
this with either quartz or bluebitch - if it works, the resulting blade
would be really fantastic.  (Bluebitch is an extremely hard, blue, volcanic
granite, so named from its color and from the fact that it's a real bitch
to work.  I kid you not...)

Blessed be...


Ward Burrows			Politics (n):  from poli-, meaning "many"	-tic(k)s, which are bloodsuckers.


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