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A Practical Primitive Intensive Skills Program

Secrets in the Stone 2009

Secrets in the Stone

The Application Deadline for 2011 has now passed.

Program Begins: November 19-20, 2011
Application Deadline: Midnight, October 31, 2011

"Primitive means First, not Worst."
This quote from Scott Silsby is one of my favorites, and is more true when it comes to stone than in almost any other aspect of primitive skills.

In truth, without stone we would not be here.
Without stone tools we would not have survived.

Obsidian Knife

And when it comes right down to absolute basics,
stone is the one thing we simply can not live without.




An Open Letter from Eddie to All who are considering this Program:

Cherry Quartz point

Many years ago I wrote an article for the very first issue of Primitive Archer magazine that was titled "Secrets in the Stone". When I decided to design an Intensive Skills course around flintknapping I could think of no better name for the program, and no better theme around which to build the curriculum. Over the last 25 years or so that I have been working with rock I have learned many lessons, and discovered many secrets that lay within the stones on which I worked. However, the biggest lesson that stone has taught me is that my meager human life span is not nearly long enough to learn all it has to teach. This program will the beginning of your own journey with stone, and will give you a jump start into a vast new world.

Beginning with the earliest stone tools, you will work your way through millions of years of history and discover how, far from being inferior, stone tools in many cases work as well as or better than their modern conterparts. From there we will move through my specially developed 9 Step Knapping™ program, which will open up to you the entire world of arrow points, knives, daggers and blades. We will then move on to the more advanced shaping, thinning and notching techniques, all the way up to those of the Clovis and Folsom cultures, including fluting, and artifact replication. You will also learn how to properly notch, haft and sharpen your points so that they can be used for display or for hunting.

The language of stone is the language of energy, and slowing down enough to hear and understand what the rocks are telling you will bring you many new insights into all aspects of your life. Working stone can be an empowering experience or a humbling one, or both. Most often both. This rock has been sitting and waiting for millions of years for you to pick it up. How patient can you be to learn what it has to teach you?

I love flintknapping. It is, to me, both a sacred connection to our past and one of the greatest accomplishments of our present culture. Humans have been hitting on rock for over a million years, and prior to the modern resurgence of the past couple of decades the height of flintknapping skill and artistry peaked about 15,000 years ago. I have been lucky enough to know and knap with and learn from some of the best modern knappers in the world and it is my privilege and responsibility to pass the secrets of this sacred skill along to you. If you are ready to learn, to practice, and to listen to the Secrets that lie within the Stone, I look forward to working with you in this program.

Be Well,

About the Program

Secrets in the Stone
Upcoming Session:     November 2011 – February 2012
Location:                    Practical Primitive, Great Meadows, NJ
Tuition:                      $1395 ($500 deposit due upon acceptance.)
Program Dates:          One 2-day weekend each month (Saturday & Sunday)
Application Deadline:  October 31, 2011
Apply:  The application deadline for the 2011 program has now passed.
Frequently Asked Questions: See Below

Learning to map flakes

You will be one of only FOUR people to spend four months learning from Eddie Starnater, a 25-year veteran flintknapper and one of the best, most highly skilled and experienced instructors in the world of primitive skills.
Eddie has been knapping since the mid 1980's when he decided he wanted to make stone points to haft onto his hunting arrows. He learned everything the hard way, through trial and error, because back then there was hardly anyone doing flintknapping yet, let alone teaching it!
Eddie has knapped using stone, wood, antler and copper billets, and has created arrow points, knife blades, spear tips, daggers, stone tools and "just because you can" eccentric pieces from all different types of stone.
A confirmed "rock hound" his knappable rock collection consists of flints from Texas, Ireland, Isreal and all points in between, jaspers and cherts from all across the U.S. and Canada, petrified wood, petrified palm, agatized coral, green stone, obsidian, dacite, glass and more.

He has been making and selling flintknapped points, knives and eccentric pieces since the early-90's, written, and been the subject of, many articles on the subject, and has recently released his first instructional flintknapping DVD, 9 Step Knapping: Flintknapping Made Easy.

Sitting silent and still

Over the past 25 years Eddie has honed not only his flintknapping skills, but his ability to teach those skills to others. His remarkable ability to break down this complex art into simple exercises that anyone can comprehend and reproduce make this a program unlike any other. If you practice the exercises and do the homework, we guarantee you will acheive flintknapping success that will meet and even far exceed your expectations for these four months. If you don't practice the exercises and put only half-hearted effort into your homework, your results will reflect as much. That part is entirely up to you.

As a member of this program you will gain a thorough and hands-on understanding of the ancient art of Flintknapping. You will discover the secrets that exist within each piece of stone, and how to convince that rock to share them with you. Our focus will be on building a fundamental understanding of, and solid ability in, all aspects of this skill. By coming to appreciate the Rules of the Rock and learning to respect and follow those rules you will take your flintknapping ability to places that, until now, you never dreamed you would be able to reach in such a short time.


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Program FAQs

Eccentric point


Q. What will be covered in the program? What sort of flintknapping skills will I learn?
A. Over the course of your four months you will learn many more skills than there is space to list here, but below is a basic rundown of what will be covered and expanded on during the program:

Eric S., 2009

Q. What do you mean by "Homework"? Will I have to write essays or something?
A. No written assignments, we promise! Secrets in the Stone is a hands-on program and you will be expected to practice and apply the skills we work on during our weekends together once you return home. Each weekend we will cover the basics of certain skills and work on associated exercises together. You will then be given "homework projects" to complete on your own within a given time frame at home.

Q. I am really busy with family/work/life etc. Does it matter if I won't have time to do all the homework projects?
A. If you are accepted into the Secrets in the Stone program we require that you work diligently to do your best to complete all of the homework assignments each month. We realize that life gets busy, but fully expect that you will make this program a priority in your life for those four months. This is a hands-on, exercise-based program and each month builds on the skills and exercises of the last. If you fall behind it will affect not just you, but the entire group. Remember, as part of the program you are not only working to better your own flintknapping skills, but to learn from and contribute to the program by sharing your experiences with the member of the group! If you are unable to devote time and energy to working and practicing your knapping on a regular basis it would be best if you waited to apply until your schedule is more accomodating.

Lara L., 2009


Q. How do I apply and when is the deadline?
A. You can apply for the Secrets in the Stone program online, or you can download and print a PDF version of the application to mail in. All applications must be received by midnight October 31, 2011 to be considered for this year's program.

Q. How many people do you accept into the program?
A. The Secrets in the Stone program is limited to a maximum of 4 people. Eddie is adamant that each person in this program receive his full attention when they need it, and with a large group that is just not possible. By limiting this program to only 4 participants he can guarantee that you will take your flintknapping skills as far as you are ready and willing to go!

Dacite biface

Q. Is there an age limit?
A. Yes, you must be at least 18 years old to apply for the Secrets in the Stone program. There is no upper age limit and so long as you are physically able to complete the course-work we encourage you to apply!

Q. Where do the Secrets in the Stone weekends take place?
A. The Secrets in the Stone weekends take place at our main Pracitcal Primitive location near Great Meadows, NJ. Check out our Locations page for more detailed information and directions.

Q. Do you ever offer the Secrets in the Stone program anywhere else?
A. No, this program is only offered at our main location in New Jersey.



Discovering the details


Q. What is the schedule for the program?
A. Program members will gather for one 2-day weekend each month for 4 months, beginning in November. (See our Workshop Schedule for proposed Secrets in the Stone weekends.) We begin at 9:00 a.m. on Saturday morning and finish up around 5:00 p.m. Sunday afternoon. Each weekend will be filled with intense flintknapping instruction, exercises that will help you hone your knapping skills, an outline of the homework assignments for the upcoming month, and a debrief of the homework and exercises from the previous month.

Q. I really want to apply but have a conflict for one of the weekends listed on the schedule. What can I do?
A. The weekends listed on our Winter Workshop Schedule are the ones we have currently set aside for Secrets in the Stone, however some variations can be made and the final dates will be based on the schedules of accepted participants, and agreed upon by all.


Sarah Y., 2008


Q. What if I will definitely not be able to make one of the weekends no matter when it is rescheduled? Should I still apply?
A. As a Secrets in the Stone participant you must commit to attend every get-together weekend without fail. If you know that you will be away for an extended period, or are unable to commit to attending every one of the weekends it would be best that you wait to apply until your schedule is more accomodating.

Q. Where can I stay during the weekend?
A. Participants will stay on-site at Practical Primitive over the weekends. You may either bring a tent to set up in the back yard, or choose to stay indoors over night. You will have full access to facilities, and all meals will be provided over the course of the weekend.

Q. I live too far away to commute. Do you have a Residential option?
A. A limited number of Residential spaces are available for an additional fee. If you would like more information please e-mail us for details. Alternatively, we live near a college town with many reasonably-priced rooms for rent. We would be happy to provide you with local information to check out this more private option.



Don't be seen

Q. What sort of skills / experience do I need to have to apply?
A. There are no minimum skill-level requirements for the Secrets in the Stone program. Whether you have been flintknapping for some time but are not satisfied with your results, are someone who has taken a few classes over the years, or one who has to this point been only an armchair enthusiast will make no difference when we are reviewing applications.

Q. Then what ARE you looking for in participants?
A. We are looking for people who want to LEARN!!! This is not a "fill your notebook then leave it on the shelf" type of program. We are seeking participants who have a passion for learning the ways of our ancestors and a real desire to discover the many secrets that stone has to teach. If you are dedicated, self-motivated, prepared to learn and always ready to try, perhaps fail, but always try again, then we hope you will apply today!


Eric's dacite biface, 2009


Q. How do you choose Secrets in the Stone participants?
A. Participants will be chosen based on the answers in their application, and our belief that they have a real desire to learn the flintknapping secrets that Eddie has gleaned in his more than 25 years of knapping experience. We choose carefully to bring together a group we believe will work well together and bring out the best in each other.

Q. Do I have to have taken a Practical Primitive workshop in order to apply?
A. No, it is not mandatory to have attended a Practical Primitive workshop in order to apply for the Secrets in the Stone program. We have had several participants for whom one of our Intensive Skills programs was their first Practical Primitive experience. However, due to the intense nature of the skill being taught and the need for focus and attention to detail, preference may be given to those applicants we have had the opportunity to get to know, whether through workshops, attendance at our free Open Skills Nights, at events, or through other means. If we have never met but you submit a compelling application that piques our interest we will want to chat with you on the phone and, if the distance is feasible, ask that you come to meet us in-person and possibly attend a "group" event (such as an Open Skills Night). Remember, you will be spending a lot of time together with your fellow knappers — we want you to like each other!



Q. How much is the tuition for the Secrets in the Stone program?
A. The four-month Secrets in the Stone program tuition is $1395, which includes project supplies and materials, all of your meals during Secrets in the Stone weekends, and the option to schedule up to 8 hours of one-on-one Mentoring time each month at no additional cost.

Eric and Dan, 2009Q. What is included in my tuition?
A. Your program tuition includes all of the supplies and materials for your weekend projects, as well as all of your meals during the Secrets in the Stone weekends. Plus, you will also have the option to schedule up to eight hours of individual mentoring each month to gain additional instruction in or assistance with skills learned and exercises assigned during the Secrets in the Stone program — a $600 value at no additional cost to you!

Q. Are there any "Materials" fees on top of the tuition?
A. No, there are not any additional fees; we provide all required materials for your use during the Secrets in the Stone weekends at no extra charge. We do give you a list of required tools and materials you will need to purchase for your home use if you do not already have them, including flintknapping tools and rock. Some of the necessary tools may be available through Practical Primitive, however we also provide you with excellent online resources where you can purchase these required items from reputable, quality sources at the best prices we are aware of at the time. Feel free to contact us for more specific details.


Thinned biface

Q. Is there an application fee?
A. No, there is no application fee for any of our Intensive Skills Programs. If you are accepted into the program we require a $500 deposit to secure your place, with the balance of the tuition due on or before the first day.

Q. Do you offer any scholarships or tuition assistance?
A. We do not currently provide tuition assistance or work-study programs for the Secrets in the Stone Intensive Skills Program, however requests for extended payment plans may be considered on an individual basis. Dacite point(For tuition assistance with our regular workshops you may wish to consider applying for our Internship program. Intern hours may not be used toward Intensive Skills Programs.)


Secrets in the Stone
Program Length:         4 Months
Upcoming Session:     November 2011 – February 2012
Location:                   Practical Primitive, Great Meadows, NJ
Tuition:                     $1395 ($500 deposit due upon acceptance.)
Application Deadline:  October 31, 2011
Apply:  The application deadline for the 2011 program has now passed.


Applications must be filled out in their entirety and received by MIDNIGHT OCTOBER 31, 2011.
Incomplete applications will not be considered.

If you have any questions about the program feel free to give us a call,
or send an e-mail to


Printable Application Form

Thunderbird eccentricIf you would prefer to mail in your application you may download a printable copy here. (This is a PDF file. Acrobat Reader is required.) Simply click on the "Print" icon at the top left of the form, or the "Save" button to save a copy to your computer for printing at a later time.
Please mail your completed application to:

Intensive Skills Studies Program
Practical Primitive
14 Sussex Lane
Great Meadows, NJ 07838

(To apply online click here.)

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