13. Antler Nålbinding Needle(s) (New Skill- Working Antler)

During my month long post surgical recovery I also made some Nålbinding needles from antler and bone.  The pictures below are of the antler needles I made.

Bone & Antler pieces

These are the pieces of antler & bone that I started with.  I cut the smaller antlers from the skull piece and the let the pieces soak in water for several days to soften.  The gray antler softened up nicely, but the bone and other antlers did not soften up at all.  I found out after I started this project that boiling may have helped soften the antler and bone.

A section of the scull plate is being saved to be shaped into a diz, a device with several sized holes for drafting fiber before spinning to achieve consistent sized yarn.




Bone & Antler Cut Blanks

Using a cope saw I cut the general shape of the blanks till they were roughly ‘needle’ shaped and sized.  Then I took to whittling, grinding, sanding and repeating till I had shapes I liked.





Grey Antler Needles

The pieces from the gray antler were softer and much easier to work than the other pieces.  Most of their shaping was done with a pocket knife.  I had to let the needles dry for a couple of days before fine sanding.





Needles from skull.

The needles from the skull piece were exceptionally hard and it took repeated soakings and grinding with a stone wheel and sanding disc to get the shape and sizes I needed.  One of the prongs, the one with a thick lump, was cut in half lengthways (more or less) and shaped into a smaller needle.

The needle eyes were drilled with a drill press on some, till it stopped working, then with a hand drill for the others.  I prefer the drill press for asuring a straight hole, but with practice I should have better luck with the hand drill.



Within the SCA time-frame hand tools were used when working with materials such as these.  Hand forged tools were found in many archaeological sites throughout Europe tools which have changed little to their modern counterparts.  Power tools were used here (sanding wheel, stone grinding wheel, drill press) due to discomfort doing extensive hand work.  (I was amazed, with a hipbone to hipbone incision, how much I used my abdominal muscles while whittling and working on these projects.)