Friday, February 18, 2011

Harpoon Heads with Copper Endblades

Antler and copper harpoon head
So I was able to get that little harpoon head done that I promised myself I would finish yesterday.  Mostly.  I'm still fussing over the patina on the copper endblade and the rivets, but that's mostly waiting to see what sort of colour I'll get from the red wine vinegar and Miracle Gro solution.  The thing is assembled, and I can focus on other pieces.  This is reproduction #10 of 17 in the Central Arctic set that is based on Inuit artifacts in the Canadian Museum of Civilization.

Its quite small - 7.7 cm long x 2.3 cm wide across the endblade

I'm still fussing with the patina
The smaller, white harpoon head is the finished one.  The larger brown head is part of a complete harpoon, so it can't be called finished until the rest of the harpoon is assembled.  You can see the original artifacts that they are based on in the CMC's online artifact catalog:

This one needs a harpoon
It looks like the harpoon head from the complete harpoon might actually have a steel endblade, but for the reproduction I'll be using copper.  There is another harpoon head in this set which will have a steel endblade, so that material will be represented there.

Riveting work!
I'm enjoying making all these metal pieces, especially the rivets.  Its good practice.  I've made copper riveted pieces in the past, but never so many at once and they can be tricky to make, especially in material that is softer than the rivet.  If you get impatient with hammering the rivets in a soft material, like antler or slate, the rivet can crack the piece that you are working on as it expands in the hole.  Which really sucks, because the rivets are often the final step and breaking a piece just when you think its finished can be a nightmare.  Fortunately, that didn't happen here and I've been careful to drill the rivet heads with a small dimple before hammering to help the heads expand outward.  Then I hammer them very lightly and periodically file the heads with a metal file to help remove excess metal while tapping the head into the right shape and smoothing it down against the antler.

seems small
This is quite a small harpoon head, only 7.7 cm long and 2.3 cm wide across the widest part of the endblade.  Based on the proportions in the reference photos, I made the antler harpoon head about 3.8 cm long.  Together with the large endblade it seems like a functional harpoon head, but if the antler was found on its own, it would be tempting to call it a miniature.  The reproduction that I've shown here is based on an Inuit artifact, but small harpoon heads were common amongst earlier Palaeoeskimo collections as well.  Robert Park and Pauline Mousseau published an excellent paper in 2003 called How Small Is Too Small: Dorset Culture "Miniature" Harpoon Heads, which deals with awkwardly sized harpoon heads in Palaeoeskimo sites.  They found that a lot of very small harpoon heads could have been functional.

Photo Credits: Tim Rast

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts with Thumbnails