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An adventure in carving a bone needle with stone tools

I decided to skip out on all modern tools for this current project. A video game I was playing at the time (Green Hell) had the protagonist making sewing needles out of Capybara bones. I figured it would be a good starting project to go full Neolithic!

One of our students found a long leg bone of a deer while out on the trail. I tried to score a line around the bone with a sharp edge of rock and then snap off the end. I did not get the clean break I wanted, but I did get the bone to shatter out several long shards.

After that, it was the tedious task of shaping the shards on rough rocks. I tried handheld rocks, rocks embedded in a rock wall, smooth rocks from a river - and I ended up with a fairly thick needle with a notched "Eye". I could not think of a way to drill a small enough hole with stone tools, so I opted to notch the sides of the needle instead of a the usual eye. The end result could be reliably used to stitch together felted wool or loose woven fabric.

My main take away from this project is patience. I worked on this project in between classes mostly, and often felt like I was making no progress. Our predecessors often had community to lean upon, but not the convenience of the corner store.


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