Monday, December 31, 2007
Native News And New Years Eve Advice
Lately, I've been using this old Lightning Whelk shell as a chicken feed scoop. The first immigrants to Florida who were here for thousands of years before me used these big strong shells for all kinds of purposes.
The edge I'm not touching is very sharp (that's why I'm not touching it) and can be used as a scraper and cutter. If you chip away the whorly center of this shell, it makes a more user friendly scoop and can even be used as a pot to boil water.
With school out and my brain free for a change, I got the urge yesterday to make something. Months ago, I had reluctantly cut down a young persimmon tree that was struggling in it's waaaay too shady location beneath a mighty live oak.
At the time I thought, "persimmon wood is known for it's strength ... I should save this and make an atlatl".
Eyes rolled, because I am known for saying stuff like that.
Sometimes I even find the time to follow through.
So, last night, after fortifying myself with an enormous slice of Dr. Pepper Texas Chocolate Cake and a glass of real milk, I made the dark hike out to my wood shop.
Here's the piece of persimmon. It's about 25 inches (63.5 cm Rurality) long and 3 inches in diameter with a slight curve.
The book is "Florida's First Peoples" by Robin Brown. It doesn't tell you how to make an atlatl, but it does provide information and pics.
I've never made an atlatl before so I take great risk of embarrassment by sharing these photos of an unfinished project that may flop gloriously.
I'm just winging it, which is the story of my life.
Flounder, ever the voice of reason, advised me to do bulk removal of superfluous (his word) wood using power tools.
As he put it, "Do you really think Florida's first peoples would have scraped wood away with sharp pieces of shell if they had a Ryobi table saw?"
His wisdom resonated with me and I took it.
So, breaking every single rule of safe table saw use ... I removed much of the persimmon wood until a rough squarish blank began to emerge. Then, some time was spent with a drawknife and a Sureform rasp to pull the atlatl from the blank.
As seen above, the still very rough atlatl is starting to form. There is much left to do.
I finally quit around 11:00 pm ... fatigue = mistakes.
The heavier right end will serve as a counter weight to the more delicate left end which will be notched to receive the butt end of a 5 foot dart. I have some cane growing that is nice and straight. I think that will be the source of my darts. These darts are supposed to be fletched.
I've saved some guineafowl feathers, but am clueless regarding the art of fletching arrows.
I'll have to wing that too.
That lumpy counterweight end just begs for a bit of carving ... gator head? ... shark? If I give in to that urge, this project will slow to a c-r-a-w-l.
Fluffy regrets her new years resolution.
Lastly, it's New Years Eve, so here's some advice.
First, if you decide to change your appearance for the new year ... don't make that decision while partying like it's 1999.
Secondly, if you do party like it's 1999 ... don't drive.
Posted by R.Powers at 10:02 AM