Sunday, October 4, 2009

Bakersfield Knap-In, 10 Years Of Monthly Flintknapping

Bakersfield Knap-In, 10 Years Of
Photos By Dennis Mahan

Monthly Flintknapping

Flintknappers still “Knap-in” after 10 years
By Dennis Mahan
Flintknappers from near and far gathered in Bakersfield’s Hart Park on Sunday to mark the ten-year anniversary of the longest-running monthly “Knap-in” in the world.
The Bakersfield Knappers, started by Gary Pickett, Ray Harwood, Danny Raines and Sherry Pauley, meet the first Sunday of every month to practice the ancient art of making stone tools such as arrowheads, knives and other projectile points.
“I like the camaraderie,” said Harwood, 49, of Bakersfield, who is an archaeologist with a degree from California State University, Northridge. “We advance our knowledge by keeping in practice and sharing ideas.”
Harwood and other group members give Pickett a lot of the credit for the group’s progress and success.
“Gary is an excellent teacher. He has the gift of teaching and has a lot of patience with us,” said Jim Boatman, 61, of Tehachapi.
Pickett’s interest in flintknapping came more than 20 years ago when he began finding old arrowheads in the creeks of southern Missouri where he grew up. He was fascinated by the arrowheads and thought he could make them himself.
“I just started beating two rocks together,” said Pickett, 44, who moved to Bakersfield in 1997.
It was five years of trial and error before he made much progress, but moving to Bakersfield and meeting Harwood through a flintknapping Web site helped both of them progress faster. They decided to meet every month and work on rocks, but didn’t expect for the small group to grow like it did.
“I’m pleased with the progress and the people it’s brought,” said Pickett.
Every meeting brings folks from all over the state — Inglewood, Ridgecrest and Sacramento — and even from out of state. One man visiting California from Louisiana heard about the group and came out for a visit.
Flintknapper Fred Swanson comes from Weldon for the experience he gets from talking with Pickett. He feels that flintknapping can be good therapy.
“You get hooked on it. It’s an enjoyable, relaxing endeavor. You get started and you kind of forget about everything else,” said Swanson.
For anyone interested, the group will provide the tools, rocks and lessons to get started during the “Knap-in.” For those who would like to get started on their own, tools include deer antler, hammer stones and the more modern “copper bopper,” along with a chunk of obsidian rock.
The next demonstration will be 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 4, near the east entrance of Hart Park. For more information go to

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