Traditional finish for war club

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Diogenes454

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I've been working on a war club for a while now and am ready to stain and protect the wood.
Anyone have any ideas on traditional native American finishes.
I've read about heated clays, crushed and mixed with melted fat. My concern is the possibility of it smelling rancid.
Any other thoughts or suggestions?
 

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Wow, what an interesting question! I know some were painted and some were left plain, though surviving plain examples seem to have had some kind of oil finish on them. Flax seed oil would have been available to NA's, but I don't know if or how much they used it.

Sorry I can't provide more information and I'm looking forward to answers from more knowledgeable folks than I on this one.

Gus
 

Phil Coffins

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Thinking about the culture of our Indians I wouldn’t think any finish was applied. Stains would be colors to represent some thing and be of natural plants or minerals. How a museum sample looks to day is affected by years of handling which would put oil from skin on the piece, much like a unfinished wood hand rail gets. Fat would go bad and perhaps excellerate the wood to rot. Surely an item in a lodge would have wood smoke on it. Again my thoughts not based on science.
 
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Yes, it's an interesting question. I'd think pre white man not much color would have been used. Seed oils and pigment are something NDNs need to thank YT for. You sometimes see things decorated by burning but I don't see how designs could have been burnt in using just hot rocks. Some sort of metal tool would be needed, I think. Desgns could have been carved into the wood with sharp rocks and such and then the groves filled with some concoction or another.

What style of club are you working on?
 

Diogenes454

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What style of club are you working on?[/QUOTE said:
I've been carrying around a piece of maple for almost 15 years..its got an almost complete 90degree angle.
I've slowly been sanding and whittling it down. Looks a lot like a Southeastern style.
I'll work on pictures....
 

nhmoose

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Not trying to be an ass but the thought that the finish could be the hair, fat , blood and brains of a vanquished foe? That could give color and a protection to the wood.
 

SDSmlf

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Not trying to be an ass but the thought that the finish could be the hair, fat , blood and brains of a vanquished foe? That could give color and a protection to the wood.
Was thinking something similar. A lot of fat in brain - think brain tanned hides. Imagine sweat, blood, brains and guts provided ‘traditional’ finish. Difficult to replicate.
 

Zonie

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I think a likely candidate for something that could have been used on a war club would be the pitch or resin from an evergreen tree.
Pine, juniper, fir and a number of other trees produce pitch and resins and there is no doubt that the Indians were well aware of these. They used these for medical purposes and to seal pots among other things.

The waterproofing qualities and improved grip on an object coated with these materials would protect the wood and make loosing a grip on the club less likely. (You really don't want your war club to slip out of your grip and fly off into the bushes while your trying to bust someones head.)
 

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The waterproofing qualities and improved grip on an object coated with these materials would protect the wood and make loosing a grip on the club less likely. (You really don't want your war club to slip out of your grip and fly off into the bushes while your trying to bust someones head.)
Jim, I was thinking the same thing earlier, but am glad you mentioned it. Good point on them possibly using pitch on the handles. I've only seen three or four original "standard" War Clubs (not for ceremonial purposes) over the years at different Museums around the country, but I confess the handle portion of the clubs seemed too small to keep a good grip on them in actual use without something else to keep them steady in the hand.

Gus
 
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