Mark Thomas describes himself as a “Craftsman to the Past,” as he uses his skills to make beautiful flintlock rifles and engrave other early American artifacts.
Mark Thomas lives in the mountains of Virginia, inside of a National Forest just outside of Harrisonburg. It is in this rural setting that Thomas became a craftsman known for building fine flintlock rifles.
He started building flintlock rifles as a hobby in 1978. As his hobby grew and developed into a profession, he also learned how to engrave metal and decoratively carve wood.
These skills came in handy as his expertise in building flintlocks grew. Just look at the piece he’s holding. It’s beautiful.
Thomas’ interests expanded from there, and now he also engraves jewelry, makes powderhorns, works with horn and bone, and makes different accoutrements and items that tiptoe the line between art and practical utilitarian object.
“I believe in making things that are heirloom quality,” he says, “so that future students of this art form…will have an object that they can see and handle and hopefully pass down through the family.”
The historical timeframe or window he works in is primarily the 1750s to 1820s, and especially the golden age of the flintlock rifle between 1800 and the 1820s.
He takes us into his basement where the real work takes place. It looks about like what you’d expect an artist’s work area to look like: kind of messy and chaotic. He shows us a couple of firearms that he’s in the very early stages of working on.
I’d like to see the development process of these pieces captured on film. I don’t know if that’s the plan for the Wood and Shop channel or not, but it does say “to be continued…” at the end of the video. Click here to read a little more and see some still shots of some of the objects Thomas was showing in the video.
Like what you see here? You can read more great articles by David Smith at his facebook page, Stumpjack Outdoors.