Sticks and Stones
JACKSONTOWN – This year’s annual Arbor Day celebration at Dawes Arboretum wasn’t all about what grows above ground. “It’s a small group of people who do it, but it’s becoming more mainstream,” said Baltimore resident Timothy Linard, who demonstrated the art of flint knapping during Dawes’ April 30 event. He said that 100 years ago, flint knapping—or creating arrowheads from raw flint or other hard rocks—was an underground activity whereby flint knappers even tried to pass off their arrowheads as originals created by Native Americans centuries before European’s arrival. “People thought they were real back then,” said Linard.
Ironically, as flint knapping progresses as a modern art form, well-crafted new arrowheads can fetch more money— sometimes substantially more— than original Native American pieces. This is why, said Linard, most modern flint knappers, he included, sign their pieces in the same manner that painters sign their work. Linard said he’s seen new pieces priced at $25,000. “People want the signatures,” he said.
Arrowheads are nothing new to Linard. He’s flint knapped for 10 years and collected arrowheads on family property for nearly 30 years. He knows which arrowheads are original Native American and which are new. Linard said depending upon the type of flint, some develop a chalky white substance as they age, which, if absent, is a strong indicator the piece was recently created. Nearly all flint fades in color as it ages so, if a piece is too shiny and bright, it’s most likely new.
Linard said it took him roughly two years to learn flint knapping, during which time he “ruined a bunch of beautiful rocks.” He said those wishing to learn the art form or simply admire others’ work should visit Flint Ridge State Park east of Newark, where some of the area’s best flint knappers will gather during Memorial Day Weekend. Linard said Flint Ridge will attract many of the world’s greatest flint knappers during an even larger event Labor Day Weekend.
Elsewhere at Dawes, Public Relations Director Laura Appleman said the arboretum attracted 3,000 visitors to its April 30 Arbor Day celebration. “Probably a little more,” she said. The ever- popular tree climbing event, a Licking Land Trust display, a make-a-frame ( from sticks) display, Kids’ Corner, and, of course, flint knapping were all highlights of the 2011 celebration, said Appleman.
Linard hopes flint knapping not only returns to Dawes next year, but also becomes a popular national art form. “Ten percent of the Earth’s crust is flint,” he said. “There’s plenty left.”