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Morning Sun
  • Becoming a master

  • Tom Slaughter, Pittsburg, used to hunt arrowheads.

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  • Tom Slaughter, Pittsburg, used to hunt arrowheads.
    “I always thought it would be neat to make them,” he said. “Then, four or five years ago when I was diagnosed with cancer, I decided I was going to learn how to do it. I’m not exactly sure when it was, because I’ve kind of blotted it out.”
    There aren’t that many places to go to learn flint knapping, so Slaughter studied it on the Internet.
    “Basically, everything I do is self-taught,” he said. “This is really a dying art.”
    Slaughter said he started making arrowheads  just for fun.
    “Then a guy I worked with asked how much I wanted for an arrowhead,” he said. “My wife and I put our heads together and decided that if  we made jewelry out of them we might make a go of it.”
    Amy Slaughter does all the beadwork on the necklaces they create and her husband does the arrowheads.
    He still has his day job at a factory in Fort Scott and makes the arrowheads in his off time. Depending on the materials used and the size of the piece, he can make one in an hour or so, using the pressure flaking method.
    He starts by abrading the edges of the piece.
    “This allows the copper tool to hang onto the edge of the piece and it pulls out flakes, one flake at a time,” Slaughter said.
    Flint isn’t the only thing that can be worked in this way. Slaughter also uses chert, obsidian, jasper, agate and even manmade glass, including beer bottles.
    “I don’t drink, so most of them are donated beer bottles,” Slaughter said.
    He sells his work at craft festivals, including Little Balkans Days and shows at Mound City, Neosho, Mo., and Diamond, Mo.
    “This year we were in the Christmas show at Meadowbrook Mall, and we may go back,” Slaughter said. “It was nice being inside.”
    He also passes out business cards at these festivals, and said he gets many calls from people wanting custom work.
    “Guys want their deer antler turned into a knife,” Slaughter said. “I use the leftover antler to make a stand for the knife.”
    He said that some of his pieces, especially those made of obsidian, are sharp enough to skin a deer.
    “I dull down the arrowheads that I use to make necklaces so they won’t hurt anybody’s neck,” Slaughter said.
    He’s also done a lot of rosaries out of stone.
    Slaughter calls his business Mystic River Flint Art, and his web site is www. mysticriverflintart.com.
    “I’ve had a lot of people interested in learning how to do this, so maybe I’ll do some classes next spring,” he said. “It’s hard to explain, but evidently you can do it or you can’t do it. My wife has tried any number of times to make an arrowhead and she can’t do it.”
    Page 2 of 2 - Each of his pieces is individual and unique, and he really enjoys the process of creating them.
    “I liked hunting them, but I like making them more,” Slaughter said. “Now I don’t hunt them any more.”

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