Friday, July 17, 2009

Back from the Lab

Its been a pretty busy week and I'm anxious to get back into the workshop today. After a morning Human Resources meeting (staff job review) at the Craft Council, I went down to the Archaeology and Ethnology Lab at The Rooms in the afternoon to check out the Inuvialuit artifacts on Wednesday afternoon. These are the pieces that Parks Canada is having me reproduce so that the original artifacts won't get damaged.

I took in the pieces that I've started and made some side by side comparisons and measurements. Most of the work is reductive... I start with a big piece of bone, wood, stone, or antler and carve or cut away pieces. Mistakes are costly, since I don't usually have a means to make things bigger if I accidentally work the piece too quickly and it becomes too small. So during the duration of the project I'll be working on many of the reproductions simultaneously, doing small amounts of work and checking them against the originals weekly.

For the larger wood pieces I have a few new additions to my workshop. I bought a small vice and spokeshave at Canadian Tire and a draw knife and set of sawhorse brackets from Lee Valley. I made a little bowyers bench to hold the wood while I plane it.

Finally, here's a quick look at the copper awl I started earlier in the week. The artifact is on the top and my folded and hammered copper reproduction is below. For a first comparison, I'm happy. Its on the right track and the overall look is good. I need to work on the cross section a little, its square now, but needs to be a little flatter and lozenge shaped. At this point its a pretty accurate snapshot of what the awl would have looked like when its maker was using it. Now my job is to antique the fresh awl so that it looks like a worn tool that was broken and discarded and then later found and preserved. I need to break off part of one end to get the length right and then work on the green patina. Fortunately copper is a pretty reactive metal and there are some acids and salts in the kitchen and pantry that should give me the patina I need. I'll post final photos and let you know what I used to antique the piece when its done.

See you on Monday!

Photo Credits: Tim Rast

Photo Captions:
Top: Sawing wood in the workshop
Second: Net Gauge. A tool that would have been used to measure the holes while making a net.
Third: Tim using a draw knife to plane wood.
Bottom: The Copper awl artifact and reproduction in progress.

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