Great Basin

Obsidian Knives by Flintknapper, Dale Duby

Through eons of time, man has made his tools from stone. From simple bone smashing hand held choppers (for acquiring bone marrow) to more elaborate fluted Clovis spear and atlatl points to more modern arrowheads. Any type of stone was used that could be managed into a desirable size and shape and have a sharp edge. Jasper, agate, flint, and basalt are just a few of these materials. The most prized of materials for pre-historic stone tool development was the volcanic glass known as obsidian. Obsidian from the Western United States has been found in the shape of pre-historic artifacts across much of the North American continent. A large portion of this obsidian came from volcanic areas in the Great Basin.

In 1963, while Dale Duby was working in the woods as a timber faller, he saw a fellow logger making an arrowhead from a piece of obsidian during their lunch break. Dale became very interested in the technique and so he asked the other fellow to teach him how to make an arrowhead. It was then that Dale began making arrowheads for friends simply as a hobby, but in 1988, while Dale was falling timber in the Seneca, Oregon area, he discovered a lot of obsidian laying around on the ground. It was then that Dale decided to start making artifacts that eventually turned into a full-time job. In 1994, Dale stopped logging and started a small business of his own making contemporary artifacts, arrowheads, knives, lances and tomahawks.

Materials needed to produce the knives and tomahawks are obtained as locally as can be to their location. Most of the obsidian used is of high quality and comes from Central Oregon and Northern California for the most part, and comes in a variety of colors, such as mahogany, rainbow, midnight lace, clear green, Burns green, silver sheen and more. Great Basin Art buys antlers shed annually from local deer and elk which are mostly picked up by ranchers who know the animal's whereabouts at all times. Bone handles are a by-product of the fur industry, and no animal is harmed to obtain them. Wood handles and all wood used to construct their furniture is obtained close to Prairie City, Oregon. Wood from private and public land, including juniper and pine, is harvested locally.

Dale Duby, of Prairie City, Oregon is renowned for his flintknapping skills and elegantly handcrafted obsidian knives. He started his business to reproduce the stone tools and weaponry of vast bygone eras using only the finest obsidian. Dale recreates these items by many of the same techniques used by pre-historic man. Grinding, abrading, percussion and pressure flaking are terms used by today's modern flintknappers. Over the years, the line has been expanded from a few very basic aboriginal styles to now include many different handle materials, including bone, wood and antler. Many styles offer custom art work, including scrimshaw, carving and beading. Great Basin Art's knives include oblique parallel flaking and fine craftsmanship on the handles. Juniper knife stands are included for most knives.

Shop Great Basin at Country Knives
Shop Great Basin at Country Knives
Shop Great Basin at Country Knives

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