Monday, May 3, 2010




Steve Allely is knapper who began breaking rocks in 1967 and hasn't slowed
down much in the last 40 plus odd years of working stone. He specializes
in beautiful high color points of the Western US although he can make many
styles of points and knives. He is also an accomplished flat work artist
in painting and illustration. Additionally, he is a bow maker specializing in the
subject of Native American archery for over 20 years and has illustrated a
number of books and written the periodic chapter on the subject in the well
known Bowyers Bible book series with Jim Hamm of Bois d' Arc Press.
He has taken a number of deer with his sinew backed bows obsidian tipped
arrows and dressed them out with obsidian knives. He also replicates various
Native American material culture items for museums and interpretive exhibits.
When he's not breaking rock, scraping on bows or wielding paint brushes he
periodically plays Celtic music and doodles with several kinds of bagpipes. Steve and
his wife make their home in central Oregon, a "rock rich" area for a western


This years runners up: Second place: Ray Harwood, third place: Joe Dabill.

Nocthing Ishi points #6 [-]

Posts: 3
(05/04/10 9:34 AM)
My Recent PostsMessage MeBlockingIgnore User's Posts A few helpful hints on narrow notching is that first you have to make the area of the point you're going to notch, very thin to begin with. That will solve a number of problems before you even start and is essential. You'll need that part of your point thin so you're not fighting any thickness which is highly helpful. I use a filed down very flat and thin welding rod tip with the end having not a point but a tiny flat area as if one flattened off the end of a wooden popsicle stick but at a slight angle instead of at a 90 degree. This flat and thin tip is tiny and miniature is size and looks something like a tiny screwdriver tip for eyeglasses screws only its at a slight angle if that makes sense. You can use a horse shoe nail, regular nail or any other piece of mild steel or iron like Ishi did. I used a 7 or even a 10 power jewelers hood when doing this (its really hard to see it!) and it took several attempts as its very hard to do. I made a very tiny micro notch to start with using the flat thin flaker that I gradually went into the edge of the point a ways. Then as I got the notch started an in a ways from the edge maybe a 11/16" or so, I inserted the flat tool into the notch from the side, gently set up a little platform, and carefully pressed off a little crescent shaped notch flake to expand the notch outward and into the point but not too big, because if that flake is too large it circles back and tears open your tiny narrow notch entry and wrecks it. One has to "micro narrow notch" a little ways into the point from the edge, and then start to take off larger flakes a bit more aggressively. After you get away from the edge it gets much safer and a bit less of a risk to break it. As you notch you have to set up your platforms to the next side you take your flakes off of. I pop off a flake, very gently crunch my way in a ways but build the platform to the opposite side and very gently scrape (grind) it with my flaking tool which is setting up the platform for the next flake on the other side. Then the process repeats if all goes well. What you don't want is to get your edge to thicken up too much in the mid line of the notch and then you can start to get "stuck" and spin your wheels in taking a flake off as your platform is too far from either side stuck in the middle and it starts to get too thick so your tool keeps slipping instead of taking off a flake. You can sometimes power through and pop off a large one but you can wreck it very easily at that point and will be heard quoting Homer Simpson with a loud "D'oh!"...or worse... In short, it takes lots of practice and I've seen a number of Ishi's old points at the Hearst Museum where he "messed up" and popped his notches out wider than he wanted or had planned. That's essentially it, its just meticulous mirco notching. Its not a deep dark secret nor rocket science, just very careful tiny flaking with lots of practice (and many failures) This is probably the tiniest notched point I've ever managed to make with the entries under 1 mm but I was pushing the envelope even for me and it took several tries as I messed up somebefore I was successful. When I notch this way I work on my knee on an old green chain leather apron and hold the tool straight down when I get to the 'insert it into the inner notch" stage if that makes sense. The tiniest mistake of twisting your tool wrong can mess you up if you aren't super careful. Practice on glass or obsidian flakes a lot, the more you do it the better you'll get at it. I'll try to post some pics I have if I can ever figure out how to attach them as this web site doesn't seem to allow to pull a saved jpeg off my computer to post.

Way too much here to write and elaborate on further in this short of a space. Good luck all!

Photos are as follows:

#004 Exact replicas of Ishi's soft iron flake tool lashed on wood handle and his smaller retouch or notch tool
#006 My fine flaking tools, welding rod and a horse shoe nail with end cut off and inserted in wood handle which is a favorite of Jim Hopper.
#008 Close up of how welding rod tips look. Upper one is for super thin entry notching
#015 Point made from white novaculite and Montana banded agate full of "pepper" spot swirls
#010 Close up of back lit Montana agate point. Entry notches are slightly less than 1mm. The blue glass Ishi point was less than that.