Cawhorn creates stone art as side business

BY KENLEA HENSON
Former Reporter
11/02/2017 08:15 AM
Video Frame selected by Cherokee Phoenix
Main Cherokee Phoenix
Cherokee Nation citizen Jeff Cawhorn displays some of his handmade stone products at Central High School in Sallisaw, Oklahoma. Cawhorn discovered his love for working with stone after being fascinated with arrowheads and flint napping as a boy. KENLEA HENSON/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
Main Cherokee Phoenix
Knives made from local stones with an antler-shed handles made by Cherokee Nation citizen Jeff Cawhorn lay on a table. He said most of his costumers are local and from Oklahoma, but occasionally he receives orders from states as far as New York and Hawaii. KENLEA HENSON/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
Main Cherokee Phoenix
Handmade arrowhead necklaces made from local stones by Cherokee Nation citizen Jeff Cawhorn are displayed on a table. Along with creating stone art, Cawhorn is a full-time teacher at Sallisaw’s Central High School. KENLEA HENSON/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
Main Cherokee Phoenix
A Cherokee Phoenix-inspired knife created by Jeff Cawhorn of Sallisaw, Oklahoma. When making his products, Cawhorn uses the rocks and stones found in local creeks and rivers as well as antler sheds. KENLEA HENSON/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
SALLISAW, Okla. – Cherokee Nation citizen Jeff Cawhorn discovered his love for working with stone after being fascinated with arrowheads and flint napping as a boy. However, it wasn’t until a year ago that he turned his love for stone art into a side business out of his Sallisaw home.

“I was just fascinated by (arrowheads), so I started toying around with making my own just in my spare time. I would pick up a piece of flint or something like that and start chipping away at it and everything, and that’s kind of what lead me to where I’m at now,” he said. “I’ve always had a knack for making stone tools. I was fascinated just looking at them from an early age and I still am.”

Since Cawhorn began selling his handmade products such as arrowhead necklaces and earrings, spears, tomahawks and knives, his business has taken off. He said most costumers are local and from Oklahoma, but occasionally he receives orders from states as far as New York and Hawaii.

“For a long time I was never confident enough to sale anything I had. I would make a necklace with a point on it for my own personal use or for my grandkids then everyone seemed to want one, so it kind of took off from there. After a while I started feeling confident in what I was making to actually sale it,” Cawhorn said.

When making his products, he likes to use the rocks and stones found in local creeks and rivers as well as antler sheds that he finds on his whitetail deer farm.

“We raise white tail deer to breeders, hunting ranches and individuals that want to purchase to turn lose on their property to enhance the deer genetics that are already there,” Cawhorn said. “A lot of the materials I use come from the animals I raise. I pick up their sheds and use them to make handles for the knives and for some of the displays and for the knife stands.”

To create a knife, Cawhorn searches for a large piece of “chert” or “river cobble” along the creeks and rivers. Next he buries the stone under sand below a fire and cooks it for a couple of days to change the color and to give it a glossy effect. Then he breaks up the stone with a copper mallet or a hammer stone and shapes the broken stone into a point. For the finishing touches he adds an antler shed as the handle, and depending on the customer, Cawhorn will carve designs or words into the antler handle for a custom finish.

“Everybody seems to really like (my products). I stay busy filling orders and everyone seems to be happy with what I do and I enjoy doing it too,” he said.

As a full-time teacher at Central High School, he stays busy teaching humanities, psychology, physical education and drivers education. But with his home business, he’s able to continue his love for working with stone.

Cawhorn is a Tribal Employment Rights Office-certified artist. To view his works, visit his personal Facebook page. To request a custom order, call 918-869-2597.

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