Kim Akerman makes a Kimberley point

I have mentioned a few times that Kim Akerman is the preeminent scholar when it comes to these points, and that he has been very helpful in my research. He has kept in touch and answered some of my questions on the production process that have been sticking points for me. This post is his response to a couple of my general questions, about the correct order of work, and invasive flaking without losing too much width. To illustrate he produced a point and recorded the process. This post will be lengthy, but informative if this is a subject of interest. This body text is my interpretation, the photos with text are his explanations.



This is the piece of water worn period glass that Kim started with. We had discussed the differing ways of establishing a platform and this was the issue he dealt with first of all.



He used the margin of the convex outer surface as a natural platform and a small hard hammer along one edge, and a pressure flaker along the second to begin invasive flaking. As can be seen both methods achieved similar results.



He then continued to take more invasive flakes and establish in his mind the shape of the point he was aiming for. All this flaking was aimed at flattening the inner concave surface of the glass.



Here we can see that whilst the inner concave face is now heavily worked and being flattened, the outer convex face is as yet un-flaked. Shaping in plan has also begun.



5c. Lateral edge showing unifacial pressure flaking on interior concave faceSame story in that the concave inner surface is now almost completely flaked apart from an intermittent central ridge of original surface. Kim has a problem with this later. The curved outer surface still remains un-flaked and you can see the edge of the original outer glass surface curving up at the forefront of the photo.



And at this point flaking of the easier convex outer surface begins. What follows is a process of flaking and shaping to achieve the approximate form required.



At the above stage the easier to flake curved outer surface is used only to create platforms so that invasive flakes can be removed from (what was) the curved inner surface. The aim here was to remove the intermittent central ridge of original surface that remained on the inner face.

9b. Removal of margin by overshot flake

The aim was to get flakes to penetrate across the centre in order to remove the problematic ridge and it is at this stage that a flake overshoots and takes off too much material.



the central ridge has been removed and the task now is to bring the reduced piece back into shape, and this is done by working both faces.

11a. Final form. Concave face

11b. Final form Convex face.

This is the end result, what Kim calls a rose-leaf shaped point. I commented in the previous post how my points need to be called ‘Manchester’ points. I think this is not the case for Kim’s. He was trained by aboriginals, uses the same bodily methods, materials, tools and reduction sequences. When aboriginal tool making lapsed, Kim carried the process on, and I believe this is why he has gone to the trouble of sharing the process here. He cares about sharing this knowledge with other people who value it. Perhaps the process of sharing a valued knowledge was one part of what Kimberley points were about.


And then there were four


I woke up early this morning with the aim of finishing the last preform, and it has turned out really well.


Certainly the most Kimberley Point like of the bunch. It took the best part of an hour and wasn’t without its issues. An alternative title for this post might have been ‘how much platform do you need?’ This is because towards the end it is easy to run out of width. When this occurs it is necessary to become judicious with the platforms produced. It is simply a case of changing the edge angle enough to remove a flake. I seem to have got into this with this one and it has resulted in a more refined point that has serrated more easily.

This idea of producing one point per day is a really useful strategy for finding time to produce stuff. Doing so first thing in the morning is also a great way to start the day. Now breakfast.

Period bottle glass number two

This is one half of a piece of period bottle glass recovered from Chorlton Ees. My aim this time was to make a larger point and maintain some of the lettering on the dorsal surface (see Foraging for early 20th Century glass and ceramics).  I used a glass cutter to score the inner concave ventral surface of the larger piece of glass, and then tapped the dorsal convex surace with a hard hammer. The large piece split cleanly into two useful preforms, one of which you see here. I then started to work on the ventral surface of the margins to produce a steep edge angle. This would allow me to flip it over and start using the newly created steep edge as a platform for penetrative flakes. The aim of this penetrative flaking was to flatten the convex curvature on the ventral face. I was able to straigten and steepen the margins but was not as systematic as I could have been. Working around a thick area semi-disaster struck! break.png

I called it a day in the lab and took both pieces home, and the following day finished it off. The ‘A’ is a useful landmark on all three photos and gives an insight into the degree of reduction. I am getting a feel for this thicker and uneven material and was able to avoid a large internal bubble, which is why the base has remained relatively unworked. The end result isapproximately 76x26x7mm and pretty well flattened on the ventral side.


After the above photograph was taken I serrated the margins. My main learning from this piece is to be systematic in my reduction sequence. If my edge steepening had been more consistent I would have achieved a longer point. I am making some points for Eleanor Casella’s teaching collection and I think this can be one of them as it has an interesting provenance and biography, as well as being an aestheically pleasing example.

Something far less useful

Microwave 1

On Thursday evening I had a knapping session with Nick Overton and Rob Howarth. The ‘dish of the day’ was a toughened glass microwave turntable found in Nick’s garden. It took me a couple of hours to be able to get beyond the raised edge that was the outer lip of the turntable. As such it has been a masterclass in working angles and really got me thinking. Following the published methods is very interesting and the previous post focused upon managing the curve on bottle glass. However, this toughened and lipped turntable presented a different set of problems. It has made me think about the difference between aboriginal examples with plano-convex, and those with lens like cross sections. I wonder if plate glass examples like this lead to lens like cross sections because both faces are worked in a similar manner? I finished the above preform off this morning.

Microwave 3

As can be seen, it has reduced in size considerably, and this is a reflection of working to get increasingly shallow angles and therefore longer removals.

Microwave 2

This image shows better the degree of removals from the surface, and I can now report that the really long removals are in fact a combination of well prepared platforms that allow pressure to travel along a shallow surface angle. These shallow angles come from transforming a perpendicular edge into a steep angle, and then using this steep angle as a platform to take another removal that creates a longer shallow angle one. None of this discussion is new, however I am beginning to be able to apply these aspects systematically within a meta-approach to either plate glass or bottle glass. I am making practical sense of the textual descriptions that do not really separate out how these processes change (or remain the same) depending upon the materials used. It would be useful now to revisit the Manchester Museum examples to see if I can recognise if the source material was either plate or bottle glass, and if this actually does reflect a plano-convex or lens like cross section. Anyway, to para-phrase Nick, it has been immensely satisfying transforming this microwave turntable into something far less useful!

I think I have just passed my Kimberley Points ‘A’ Level

Kimberley Point A level

I can’t seem to stop myself at the moment. This was a large piece of 6mm plate glass found at Chorlton Water Park yesterday. It was from near a blown down tree but I think the glass is modern. I divided it into two halves (using a glass cutter) so as to have two goes. This is the result from the first half. I followed the ‘one side, one face’ rule, with a little bit of hard hammer shaping for the base to get rid of big bits. Mainly though it was the large copper pressure flaker and the abraiding stone that has been used to get it into shape. This involves getting a series of really nice invasive removals, and a good edge, and then abraiding heavily in the areas that need reduction. Repeat until required shape is achieved. When close I shifted to my smaller copper flaker.


This Kimberley Point is large, something like 153mm long, 29mm wide and 6mm thick, and not disimilar to some of the Manchester Museum larger examples. What I discovered is that it is quite stressful when you get to the later stages, as mistakes can have big consequences. ‘Koalaboi ‘ on told me that he found making “the very fine point at the tip is excruciatingly difficult!”. Up until now I have found that process relatively OK, until working this large point. A lot of time and effort is invested and then it becomes quite stressful because the tip is so thin. In relation to these needle type tips, not all examples have them and I suspect larger examples like this do not because they were used as knives. I have put one on this example but need to check the literature again. Anyway, right shape, method, retouch pretty invasive and similar to museum examples. This evening I am feeling pretty pleased with myself!


On glass quartering and pressure flaking


Following the advice of Kim Akerman I bought a copy of the above book, as it details the process of quartering a bottle using hot wires. However my book was a later edition to Kim’s and the page numbers differed. Anyway, the section relevant to this enquiry is at the beginning of chapter eight, regardless of edition. Apparently a long wire was heated in a fire and when ‘red hot’ twisted around a bottle base. This resulted in the base dropping off. The same procedure was then applied to the neck resulting in a glass tube. Finally the red hot wire was used to quarter the tube resulting in four equal sized glass preforms. In a previous post I discussed my hard hammer technique. Obviously, if this hot wire method is used no hard hammer work is necessary.

This section of the book also has useful details on the bodily approach to pressure flaking. An anvil stone is used and the knapper is seated with one leg tucked behind, and the other leg stretched out along the anvil. Some paperbark is placed upon the anvil to act as a cushion. The lengths of no.8 fencing wire used had both diamond and chisel tips, and these tips were regularly sharpened on the anvil stone. The wire was held “as we might hold a stick tight in the hand” (Idriess 1951: 47) with the fingers facing uppermost and the business end of the pressure flaker facing into the body. Leverage was generated by the “thumb and palm and arm” (ibid).

pressure flaking position

The glass would be held flat on the cushioned anvil stone whilst the pressure flaker was placed “firmly against one-half the width of the edge” (ibid). This would seem to be an important detail in that the edge is at approximately 90 degrees, as opposed to bevelled. This 90 degree approach allows flaking to be applied to each face equally. I need to play with this in order to understand it better. The knapper then “levered downward with a quick, short thrust, and a long, deep flake of glass flew out” (ibid). The longer flakes came from the convex (dorsal) face, whilst smaller removals were taken from the concave (ventral) face. Each edge was worked in turn. Through this process the piece was first flattened and then shaped and then finished. There is plenty to play with here and it has stimulated some thoughts upon ‘pulling’ as opposed to ‘pushing’ flakes off, and also on the relevance of ‘impulse’ versus slow and steady pressure. Ion Idriess has given me some ideas to test out.

An interesting learning experience

Continuing with fragments from the same porcelain cup I selected a side section and so again the curvature needed to be managed. A fair amount of material had to be removed and I found myself intuitively using a new technique when shaping the fragment using the hard hammer. Primarily I identify the area of the fragment that needs reduction. I then focus in to find bits that stick out. These points will be inherently weaker due to the lack of support on both sides. Consequently these points provide useful platforms with which to remove invasive flakes. If this platform sits above the centre-line of the edge I will flip the flake over and use it to remove a flake from the dorsal surface, if it sits below then I will use it to attack the ventral. The additional strategy I found myself using was to support the platform with my finger. This leads to me hitting first the platform and then my finger. The flake is removed but it remains in place (see photographs below). I think the finger acts as a shock absorber thus reducing the chance of the flake fracturing randomly. In any case, it worked really well. The interesting thing is that I know where this strategy came from. If you view the video of Karl Lee making a scraper he does exactly this action at 1 minute 36 seconds ( I produced that video well over a year ago and have only now found myself consciously doing this.

supported flake removal hard hammer method

Overall this means that my rough-outs are becoming more controlled even when the hard hammer is relatively large.


From there I used the copper pressure flaker again to start imposing more of the shape and thickness wanted. When I was happy with that I was able to notch the edges which as can be seen, are getting better. This material holds the notches well.

number three ventral

number 3

The red section is the remains of the transfer pattern that was originally decorating the outside of the cup. Also, I am starting to remove more of the dorsal surface with my invasive flakes. This example is 67mm long, 31mm wide and 7mm thick.