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Pedernales Knap-In celebrates ancient art of toolmaking

Some of the stone tools you can see at the Pedernales Knap-In on April 9-12 at the Blanco County Fairgrounds, 619 U.S. 281 in Johnson City. Courtesy photo


JOHNSON CITY — Having made everything he was carrying, Ron Fieseler’s head was pounding as he was only 15 yards away from group of feral hogs.

He made the bow and arrow point he was aiming at a small hog, which was jostling with another one.

“I waited ’til one paused,” Fieseler said.

Then he took his shot. The young hog moved.

“I just skimmed one right over his back,” he said.

But still, knowing he had made everything was a rush.

It’s something that started with flintknapping, and he and dozens of others are getting together April 9-12 for the 2015 Pedernales Knap-In at the Blanco County Fairgrounds, 619 U.S. 281 North.

“You’ll see some of the finest flint arrowheads and spearpoint tools you’ve ever seen,” said Fieseler, chairman of the event. “The skill and craftsmanship are fabulous, the rock is beautiful. You’ll be blown away by some of the stuff.”

It’s an ancient skill these modern knappers are keeping alive with the so-called ‘knap-ins.’ In fact, they’ll be glad to show you a few things.

“Some will let you use some of the tools and beat on rock, get a sense of it,” Fieseler said.

The main materials, flint or churt, are readily found in the area.

“People will tell you where to go find some,” Fieseler said.

Fieseler said people come to the knap-in and make everything from stone tools to decorative items. The material ranges from common flint to obsidian or other exotic materials to, well, the not-so-exotic.

“Some people use plate glass, glass from old television screens, blowing glass slag leftover. Some people have knapped out of china plates that are broken,” he said.

Glass from beer and wine bottles can be used as well as parts of toilet bowls.

“Some people use nothing but primitive tools, they’ll hammer with stones and antler tools,” Fieseler said. “More modern tools are copper-based.”

Copper tools, Fieseler said, last longer and work similar to stone tools.

This is the fourth year for the knap-in to be at the fairgrounds. Many who participate will have crafts for sale. A Saturday afternoon auction also will be held.

The Pedernales Knap-In is free to attend. There are not set hours for the event since most knappers will be camping out at the fairgrounds.