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Obsidian Blades

To: alt.religion.wicca,alt.pagan,alt.magick,alt.religion.druid
From: Niko Silvester 
Subject: Re: Obsidian Blades (was: "Re: A question...")
Date: 3 Dec 1995 19:24:40 GMT

      Sorry to yell, but this is a subject with which I am familiar.
The method for making an obsidian blade that was suggested is not only 
dangerous, but it doesn't work.  Sure, if you get a piece of stone hot 
enough, and then drip cold water on it, it will break, but you will 
absolutely no control over the results.  
       Please, try flintknapping if you want to make stone blades.
Perhaps it's not at easy as an experienced knapper can make it look,
but it's not all that hard either.  There are several books available on 
the subject that will let you get a good start, or you can go to the 
anthropology or archaeology department at your nearest university.  
Many archaeologists are also flintkappers and will be happy to help.  
Or you can ask at a rock shop [try "lapidary supplies" in the yellow
pages], that is also the most convenient source of raw material.
      Speaking of raw material, obsidian is the easiest to work, and
putting it in a fire would probably ruin it.  Chert, flint, chalcedony,
and similar cryptocrystalline rocks are also very good [some of
these benefit from heat treating, but it has to be done in a controlled
manner].  Granite is good for things like axes, because it is so hard, 
but it cannot be worked in the same way.  It doesn't flake like
obsidian, and generally has to be battered and ground into shape
[maybe heating and dripping water works- I still think you'd have little
or no control- but please don't try it with obsidian, you'd ruin
good stone, and put yourself in danger]
    One more thing and I'll shut up.  Dripping water on hot stonr is not 
a "traditional" method of working stone in any sense of the word.
There is no archaeological or ethnographic evidence of it.  In fact,
all evidence points towards some form of knapping.  If you want to 
make stone tools [knives, points, whatever], learn to knap.  It's
fun, and you can show off your great talents, but it's not that hard
to learn [the key word is practice].  There are still lots
of ritual opportunities.  If you don't want to take up knapping, or
just can't get the hang of it, there are a number of mail-order 
companies that sell hand-made obsidian knives, etc.
      Sorry to blather so.  If anyone has questions, I'll answer them
happily, or pass them on to someone who knows more than I do.  I can
also reccommend a book or two, if anyone is interested.


From: Niko Silvester 
Newsgroups: alt.religion.wicca,alt.pagan,alt.magick,alt.religion.druid
Subject: Re: Obsidian Blades (was: "Re: A question...")
Date: Mon, 04 Dec 1995 20:13:20 -0700
Organization: The University of Calgary
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I dug out some references for those of you who are
interested in making your own stone tools [without danger
of serious injury].

	_Flintknapping: Making and Understanding Stone Tools_
by John C. Whittaker; University of Texas Press, 1994.

	_Flintknapping: The Art of Making Stone Tools_ by
Paul Hellweg; Canoga Park, CA: Canyon Publishing Company, 1984.

	_An Introduction to Flintworking_ by Don C. Crabtree;
Pocatello, Idaho: Idaho Museum of Natural History, 1982.

	Any of these should give you a good start.  They should
all still be available, though they may take some tracking down.
The first one should be especially easy to find, as it was 
reprinted again this year.


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