The best way to avoid the accusation of faking is to sign points and sell them as art, and knappers also like knowing that something they made will be as eternal as a prehistoric arrowhead. As knappers have grown in skill and collectors have developed an appreciation for their work, it is becoming easier to knap as an artist. Many of the points made today are well beyond the ordinary hunting tool of the past, flaked with greater care and attention to symmetry, colorful stone, and well-patterned surfaces. One of the most successful outlets for modern knapped art has been in making stone-bladed knives.
Although some stone tools are indeed beautiful, many outsiders marvel that a knapper will sit contentedly flaking in the sun all day, ignoring sweat, insects, and cut fingers, or drive hundreds of miles a year to reach knap-ins, or struggle through thickets bent double under a vertebra-crushing load of rocks to obtain choice flint. What is it that drives us to such madness?
Knapping has a mystical lure. The finished point may be beautiful or clunky, but even the process of knapping is magical. Each flake prepares the way for the next or creates a problem that must be overcome, and a fine piece is plotted as carefully as a grandmaster’s chess game. Every flake requires a cunning knowledge of the ways of the stone and a deft stroke of the trained hand. As you succeed, you reveal the secrets of the piece of stone, creating new surfaces that did not exist before, discovering colors and crystals. Intense concentration on an absorbing craft takes you out of our annoying, crowded world, and stone tools connect you with the ancestors of all humans. They are deadly weapons, hand-forged tools, jewel-like art reflecting the partly mythical past when individuality and skillful work were the rule, before machines, politicians, and the babble of TVs.