Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Glass Buttes 2

My brother and I drove back to Glass Buttes a couple weekends ago. This time we decided to drive around and map out the area so we knew where different varieties of obsidian were. We stopped at a campground and found this gigantic pile of debitage. 

When walking around one area I stumbled upon a small quarry with exposed rock. You can never tell how big a rock you have until you pull it out. We pulled a few nice size rocks out and then started excavating a huge one.

It turned out being the tip of an iceberg. We were a little bummed about not unearthing the entire thing.

Then my brother decided to spall it while it was in the ground and ended up with the biggest spalls I've ever seen.

We loaded my car up with over 400 pounds of rock and drove home. Now we have a room dedicated to storing our rocks. We plan to get some shelves to store it eventually.

Here are a few of the pieces I've been working on the past month. Only the small point at the bottom left and the knife have been pressure flaked (sharpened). I plan to work the rest into more refined products eventually. Most likely they will be spear points.

Here is a close up of the knife. The handle is made from Redheart wood.

I hafted the blade into the handle using pitch made from sap and charcoal. I then wrapped it with deer sinew dipped in deer hide glue.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Glass Buttes

August 20th I drove from Portland to southeastern Oregon about an hour east of Bend. I met my brother and his two friends at Glass Buttes, a mountainous area composed partially of obsidian. They were nearing the end of their road trip from Washington, D.C.. We met there to get our hands on beautiful, free obsidian straight from the source. We were used to paying $1-$3 per pound for the stuff and there it was free and plentiful.

The first night we set up camp and then drove to the closest spot on our map to try to quarry some rock before dark. With pick and shovel we dug in existing pits and the progress was slow. Matt took a hike to reconnoiter some other sites. He discovered that it wasn't necessary to dig to get good stuff. There were places where cantaloupe size rocks were just laying about.

The next morning we drove to one of these sites. On top of a hill there was an open quarry filled with large chunks of Silver Sheen obsidian that had been left by previous diggers. We spent most of the morning and afternoon sitting around the quarry working the rock into smaller pieces. We were determined to take as much rock home with us as our cars could handle.

Matt reducing a rock into a biface at the quarry.

Here I was reducing a large piece with a view of the high desert in the background.

My brother Andrew dug into the wall of the quarry and pulled out several huge pieces, some weighing 50 pounds or more.

Here I was holding one of the large rocks.

Prior to the trip I had worked on maybe five rocks of the large size that was commonplace there. I was always nervous because I had paid money for the rocks and only had a few of them. At Glass Buttes there was absolutely no pressure. If I messed up I could just pick up another rock for free. That state of mind along with advice from Matt and Andrew and the hours of practice there improved my skills considerably.

Later in the afternoon Matt and I drove around the area looking for other types of obsidian. There are many names used to describe the different coloration in the obsidian so it was hard to tell exactly what we found. Based on the pictures on the www.neolitics.com we found Tiger Stripe, Brown, Midnight Lace, Mahogany and Black. The bulk of what we gathered was glossy black and opaque black which some call "Black Butter" because of how nicely and easily it flakes.

Before we left on the the third day, we gathered everything together to get a group shot. From left to right (Andrew, Me, Ryan, Matt)

In my next post I'll show pictures of some of the pieces I've made since that trip.

Portland, My Home

A lot has happened since my last post. Most importantly I moved from Riverside, California to Portland, Oregon. I wanted to move here for many years. There are so many reasons for me to live here. I could list a hundred reasons, but here are a few.

It is commonplace for people here to enjoy and appreciate nature and being outdoors. It's not hard to see why, living in between Mt. Hood and the Atlantic. Not to mention that it seems like no matter where you are there is a park within walking distance. Forest Park in NW Portland is the largest urban park in the country.

More importantly there are people here who practice primitive skills and there is even a school to teach skills. I've wanted people to practice skills with on a regular basis for a long time and now I will have them. Plus, my brother moved here too and we now live together so we can practice skills together anytime.

Portland is a good place to be for the short and long term problems this country and the world face. The city government already started planning for the inevitability of Peak Oil despite no leadership at the national level. The city has pretty good public transportation and is bike friendly. I believe the copious amount of precipitation that sours some visitors experience will be a blessing as aquifers in the country start to dry up. Another interesting thing is that it seems like every house has a garden or a fruit tree. Blackberry bushes are so dominating here that they have to be sprayed to control them.

Portland and the surrounding cities have many companies with work in my areas of expertise. Having said that I'm still unemployed and looking. I feel like this is a good place to be looking though compared with other areas of the country.