Matt Hayden whacks his heavy moose horn down on a corner of a large, solid flint stone, and splinters fly in all directions. You too can try this first step in arrowhead making at the Martha’s Vineyard third annual Mini Makers Faire at the Agricultural Hall, Saturday, May 12, 10 am to 4 pm. Matt showed me the next step, which is knapping, or chipping away at the two long sides of one of the triangular flint pieces to create grooves. Matt’s bringing flint knapping to the Faire this year along with Lego race cars, a big hit from his previous two times participating. Matt, who works at the Charter School, kindly took me around his large yard, sharing all the amazing things he invents from repurposing natural and found objects that others have discarded or don’t want. We spoke about his inspiration for his ceaseless creative output, as well as the upcoming Faire.
How did you get started making things by hand?
My son wanted a racoon hat, and all the ones we saw used fake fur, so I said, “Let’s get a roadkill raccoon.” I found them and thought, “Raccoon’s edible, and everybody wastes it.” So I started calling farmers and cooking the racoon meat, and it tasted good. I shared it with them, and they liked it.
In terms of making arrowheads, this started when my son was in Boy Scouts, and they had so many restrictions about what you could and couldn’t do. He wanted to use a knife and couldn’t, so I started my own school teaching kids how to use knives correctly. Then I said, “Wait a minute. Let’s get back to the basics and learn how we got to a knife,” and we started using rocks to make spears.
What compels you to work with kids so much — at the Charter School, in your camp, and volunteer work at the West Tisbury library?
I’m doing a plethora of things to try to spark something in the kids, to get them off the computer. I want other people to know that in school they are being taught ways to grow into a cubicle for work, and they’re not taught about the outside anymore. The more you’re out in nature, the more you’re intrigued by it, and your primal self comes out the longer you’re there.
A lot of kids don’t like to go out in the woods, or they don’t feel safe, but that’s where we came from. My whole goal is to give that back to the youth or at least to the Island anyway, to start small and see what happens.
Why do you continue doing the Maker’s Faire each year?
At the Maker’s Faire there are a lot of people doing stuff that uses natural products, and they’re open to teaching, and people will then go off and create themselves. Even the ones that don’t use natural things, they are using their minds and being creative. Like with the Lego cars. Kids come in and say they don’t know what to do: “I can’t build stuff.” Then I’ll put a platform on a set of car wheels and say, “Look, I see this as a yellow school bus,” and then they’re off creating, which makes them feel good about themselves. They feel excited, and then their minds are going, and that’s what I like seeing in the youth, because being on a small Island, we are dependent on them for the future.
What do you want people to come away with from their experience with you at the Faire?
We’re brought up to buy things, but it’s just about using the resources people are wasting. Everything we need is right around us, if you just take the time. But nobody has time anymore, so they just rush, and I’m trying to take time and say, “Let’s take your shoes off and smell the flowers,” you know. It’s just what we need to do. The world is moving too fast. We’ve got to slow that down.