Monday, October 26, 2009

Final Parks Reproductions

Here's a look at the last of the Inuvialuit artifact reproductions done for Parks Canada in Inuvik. I'll post side by side group shots of artifacts and reproductions from each of the three parks in a future post.

Tuktut Nogait Bow: Tuktut Nogait National Park. This reproduction was great fun to do and although this isn't a functional bow I learned a lot about bow-making from this artifact and I still plan to make a working copy of this bow over the winter. Its made from yew. Its in two parts with a V or fishtail splice through the shorter, lower limb. Its very light and thin limbed compared to a lot of other cable backed bows that I've come across.
In each photo the artifact is shown closest to the ruler, with the reproduction on the opposite side. In the first two photos the pieces are shown belly side up, and in the third the bow's back is facing up. I've already talked a lot about making this piece in earlier posts. Finishing involved a lot of wire brushing to bring out the wood grain and match the weathered texture. The colour and texture matching came from rock dust, sawdust, water based stains, red ochre, charcoal, and burnt umber. This is a piece that will benefit from handling. The more wear and tear the reproduction gets the better it will look.

Slate Knife: Ivvavik National Park. The artifact is in the middle. This knife is a little unusual in that its chipped slate instead of ground slate. Ground slate knives may be roughly shaped by flaking, but slate isn't a very good stone for knapping. Usually slate is finished by grinding and polishing. The handle portion of the original artifact is almost completely unworked, so the chipped blade may have been a quick attempt to turn a knife shaped rock into a real knife. Slate is a pretty soft stone that likes to break apart along flat planes, which is why its so difficult to knap. Under the sawdust and woodshavings in in my workshop there are at least a dozen failed attempts at making these two knives. I finally had to go with a slate that isn't as perfect a colour match as what I was hoping, but the best look alike slate I had found refused to stay in one piece. These reproductions will be much more durable, I feel much more confident sending them off knowing that they will be able to hold up to the sort of handling they are intended for.

Antler Handle: Tuktut Nogait National Park. This is an antler socket that was extremely deteriorated. It was a challenge to reproduce because I wanted to match the flakey weathered look of the original, but at the same time have something that wouldn't fall apart being handled. There's not much point in making a reproduction of a fragile artifact that is more fragile than the original. To match the texture and colours of the piece I used layers and layers of sawdust, antler dust, whalebone shaving, and rock dust. In between the layers I'd brush with a wire brush to create the pitting and texture of the disintegrating antler. There was plenty of blowtorch in there as well.
In both photos the artifact is on the left and the reproduction is on the right.

Kayak Rib: Tuktut Nogait National Park. This was that bent wood piece that was giving me so much trouble. I finally got it to hold its shape by building a stand for it. As long as its stored in its stand there's no danger of it straightening out again. There is an interesting patch of green staining on one end which I used verdigris from the copper experiments earlier in the summer to match. It gave a very good match - I wouldn't be at all surprised if the staining on the artifact came from contact with copper.
I keep referring to this as a kayak rib, because that's what I think it is. I don't have any evidence for that other than the fact that its shaped an awful lot like a kayak rib and I'm not sure what else it might have been used for.
In both photos the artifact is closest to the ruler. I'm going to try to be more consistent in the future with my photography or artifacts and reproductions, with artifacts always below or to the left of the reproductions.

Photo Credits: Tim Rast

Photo Captions:
Top: Detail of Tuktut Nogait collection comparison - more to come next time!
Second: Side by side comparison of Tuktut Nogait Bow (Artifact: Left, Reproduction: Right)
Third: Side by side comparison of Tuktut Nogait Bow limb (Artifact: bottom, Reproduction: top)
Fourth: Side by side comparison of Tuktut Nogait Bow (Artifact: bottom, Reproduction: top)
Fifth: Slate Knife, artifact in the middle, reproductions above and below
Sixth: Antler socket comparison, (Artifact: Left, Reproduction: Right)
Seventh: Antler socket comparison, (Artifact: Left, Reproduction: Right)
Eighth: Wood rib comparison, (Artifact: Bottom, Reproduction: Top)
Ninth: Wood rib comparison, (Artifact: Bottom, Reproduction: Top)

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