Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Tillering a Bow and Opening Minds

The Tuktut Nogait bow is starting to bend and look like a bow. I've been spending an hour or two a day working on it for the past week. I'm a little paranoid about making a mistake that I can't undo, but I've also been busy with other work, so that helps keep me from working too quickly. The slower I go, the better chance I have of keeping everything in one piece. The tillering is going well, although I'm still only halfway there. I feel like I want to put the recurves in the limbs before I go too much farther on the tiller. That will affect the way the bow bends. I also think I want to put the cable backing on before I try drawing it to its full weight. The original bow that I'm using as a reference was in two pieces, so I'm sure that it was never drawn without the cable in place. Although once the cable is on I won't be able to tiller it anymore, at least not without unwrapping everything to expose the wood again.

The photos of the bow today are taken while its set in the tiller. The tiller is a stick with a v-shaped notch in the end to hold the bow and notches cut to hold the bow string at two inch intervals. Mine is made on a 2 x 4, which is a lot heavier than it needs to be and the first notch is 12 inches from the end. So in the photos the string is pulled back 14 inches. While its strung like this you look to see how the limbs are bending. They should bend evenly with each other and in a gentle arc, that differs depending on the style of bow you are making. You mark out areas on the belly that are stiffer than others and mark them with a pencil to file or scrape down. Once those small adjustments are made you string it in the tiller again and keep checking. When everything is even at one notch, you draw it back to the next notch and work on it again, until you get back to 28 inches, which is the full draw for most bows. The fish scale is there to pull on the string to check the weight of the bow. Mine isn't ready to test yet, but when it can be stretched to 28 inches, I'll pull it to that draw with the fish scale and the weight registered on the scale will be the weight of the bow.

This afternoon I'm going to be doing a flintknapping demonstration for a grade 5 class participating in the Open Minds program at The Rooms. Open Minds is a pretty cool concept. Instead of going to school for a whole week the class and teacher go to the Provincial Museum, Archive, and Art Gallery and get to do all kinds of cool behind the scenes activities. This morning, they'll be with the Archaeology Curator getting a tour of the museum and hanging out with the Archaeology and Ethnology Collections Manager in the super cool archaeology lab in the basement. It makes me wish I was in grade five again. When I was in grade five I did a science fair project on catapults and ballistas. Dad helped me make little wooden siege engines by copying drawings in the encyclopedia. That's when I decided that I wanted to be an archaeologist.

Some of the seconds that The Rooms bought last spring are used in the Open Minds program. Its better to use reproductions than actual artifacts to show the kids how archaeology is done in the lab. It doesn't matter if they get broken or damaged. Elaine's labelled them all and given them an imaginary Borden number* for an imaginary site located in the Atlantic Ocean several hundred miles south of Burgeo. It reminds me of an e-mail I got once from a guy who was convinced that he'd found Atlantis while looking around Burgeo on Google Earth. He wanted to know what kind of temples and burial complexes I'd found while doing my MA fieldwork. I'll have to send him an update.

* Borden System: Archaeology sites in Canada are given a code that contains 4 letters and a number. The four letters refer to the site's position in a giant grid set up over the whole country and the number is the order in which that site was discovered within that grid square. Here's the Wikipedia entry and here's a fun blog where some folks are looking for four letter words in the Borden grid.

Photo Credit:
Photos 1-5, Tim Rast
Photo 6, from the Wikipedia entry on the Borden System

Photo Caption:
Photo 1: The Tuktut Nogait bow reproduction in the tiller
Photo 2: Marking an area that needs wood removed
Photo 3: The Tuktut Nogait bow in the tiller drawn to 14 inches
Photo 4: Elfshot seconds in their cases at The Rooms
Photo 5: A broken Maritime Archaic comb reproduction, with its imaginary cataloging information
Photo 6: The Borden Grid for Canada - the imaginary site is in block AB, south of Newfoundland

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts with Thumbnails