Friday, November 30, 2012

Harpoon on the Wall

Derrick posted this photo of the harpoon's new home on his kitchen wall.  Great space for it - it looks awesome with his cabinets.
Here's the original concept drawing by Derrick, with a bit of ochre from the staining.

Photo Credits: 
1) Derrick LeGrow Jr.
2) Tim Rast

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Ochre Stained Harpoon Finished

The composite harpoon that I've been working on for the past couple of weeks is done.  It features a tip-fluted box based endblade made from Newfoundland chert which combines Groswater and Dorset Palaeoeskimo characteristics.  The harpoon head is made from moose antler and is a mix of Groswater at the distal end and Late Dorset at the base.  The foreshaft and ice pick are whalebone.  The line is braided sinew and sealskin,  The main shaft is made from a recycled spruce Christmas tree with sealskin lashings.   The whole thing is covered in red ochre paint using eggs from the client's sister's chickens.  

Photo Credits: Tim Rast

Monday, November 26, 2012

Award Winning Pie!

On Saturday night, we got together with a couple dozen friends for a pie themed party called Pie Fest 2012. Every person or couple had to bring a home made pie, which we sampled throughout the evening.  As the night went on, we voted for our favourite pie in four different categories; Best Overall Pie, Best Tasting Sweet Pie, Best Tasting Savoury Pie and Best Looking Pie.  There were 24 different pies, representing a mix of savoury and sweet.  The night's big winners were the Caribou Pie, Apple and Ginger Pie, Steak, Kidney, and Guiness Pie, and Lori's Black Bottom Chocolate Pie, which took home the prize for Best Looking Pie.

These are just the sweet desert pies.  The kitchen was full of savoury meat and vegetarian pies, as well.
This is my entry; a Pecan Pie.  Its only the second pie that I ever made.  The first carbonized instead of carmelized earlier in the day, but I had time to make a second, passable, pie.

This is Lori's Award Winning Black Bottom Chocolate Pie - Best Looking Pie - Pie Fest 2012, St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador.
Photo Credits: Elaine Anton

Friday, November 23, 2012

This needs more red

The ochre is looking good
I'm still ochre staining the harpoon.  I've been working on it in the basement, but the house renovations moved down into my drying space today and put me behind a bit.  I think we've passed the half way point on the renovations.  The clapboard is up on the front of the house and the city inspector was here this afternoon to look at the work planned for the back of the house.  We need 4 foot deep post holes for the deck, which would make a lot more sense in a part of the world with 4 feet of soil.

Unfortunately replacing that casement window took priority over my  own  painting and drying on the harpoon.

The renovations aren't complete enough to reveal, but you can see the shiny red clapboard above the new window in the basement.

 Photo Credits: Tim Rast

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Assembled and Ready to Ochre Stain.

The line is sealskin and braided sinew
The composite culture harpoon is assembled now and I just have to wait for a bit of drying on the hide glue and lashings before adding a couple coats of red ochre paint to the whole thing.  The inspiration for most of the components at this point are predominantly Palaeoeskimo, with some Inuit influence on the icepick.  The ochre stain will change the look and feel of the harpoon a lot, it should be interesting.  For the paint, I mix my own ground ochre with a linseed oil, water and egg clear coat.  The client's sister raises chickens, so I used one of her hen's eggs to make the paint.  Hopefully the fully stained piece will be ready to show you on Friday. 
I use a simple paint recipe using an egg, water and linseed oil which I mix with red ochre as I brush it on.  The recipe is from Robin Wood's Blog.

Spruce, Sealskin, Sinew, Whalebone, Moose Antler, Chert, Hide Glue

Photo Credits: Tim Rast

Monday, November 19, 2012

Harpoon gets its lashings

I was putting the sealskin lashings on the harpoon shaft today.  The shaft is a spruce Christmas tree, because the archaeologist that ordered it is also a huge fan of Christmas.  Its based on the Groswater Palaeoeskimo harpoon shaft from the bog at L'Anse aux Meadows.  The bindings are all hooded sealskin.  When the lashings shrink and dry, the whole thing will be covered in red ochre.

It has a two part socket, with a lashed brace piece scarfed into place.

A slight narrowing on the original wood shaft is interpreted as a place to secure the harpoon line to the main shaft.

A whalebone ice-pick is lashed to the end where a long sloping scarf joint was preserved on the L'Anse aux Meadows harpoon shaft.

 Photo Credits: Tim Rast

Friday, November 16, 2012

Hafting Nephrite Drill Bits

Is this the right way to haft one of these nephrite drill bits?  It works and it seems to suit the design of the originals, but I've never actually seen one hafted into the drill shaft to say for sure.  I make a step cut in the wood shaft and tie the drill in place with a bit of glue in between.  But its just a guess.

This design seems to work fine, but I don't know if it is ethnographically correct.  

This is one of the artifacts that I use as a reference for these Labrador Inuit style drill bits.

The drill bit itself is round, but they are set with a square or rectangular base.  

They aren't thinned at all , so I don't think they would have been hafted into a split shaft socket like a chipped stone drill bit (top).
Disclosure: I normally use these with school kids, so I don't usually  haft them with traditional glues or lashings.  I use artificial sinew and epoxy for the added durability.  So I can't really say how they would hold up if I used something like real sinew and hide glue or baleen and seal blood glue.

Photo Credits: Tim Rast

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Chapel Knapping

I had a great day working with Mr. Peters' grade 8 class at St. Bonaventure's College today.  We set up in the school chapel, which was a first for me.  The juxtaposition of the stone tools and the church wasn't as odd as I thought it might be.  It reminded me a lot of visiting Palaeolithic sites in France where it seemed like every site we visited there was found by a school teacher or a member of the clergy.

In the morning I demonstrated flintknapping and we talked about stone tools and archaeology in the Province.  The demo lasted for half the morning and then the kids broke up into groups to journal about what they'd learned and to sketch some of the artifact reproductions on hand.  In the afternoon they all made their own ground slate ulu or men's knife.  It was good to work with slightly older kids.  They didn't let the little setbacks get them down and everyone stayed focused throughout the day.  I'm making a note for myself here, I intended to leave the point that I made in the morning with Mr. Peters but I forgot in rush to restore the chapel and get all the kids home at the end of the day.  Hopefully I'll remember to drop it off in the next few days.

When I got home, the front of the house was ready for the new clapboard.   Including the vinyl siding that was on when we bought it, they found three layers of siding on the house, dating back to the original clapboard from the 1930s.  The new clapboard has arrived and it should start going up on Friday.

Photo Credits: Tim Rast

Monday, November 12, 2012


Chert, antler, whalebone
If Frankenstein worked in whalebone, sealskin, and chert instead of corpses, he might have pieced together a harpoon like this.  This composite design harpoon intentionally melds together stylistic forms from the Eastern Arctic and Newfoundland and Labrador into one piece with many different parts.  

At this stage the endblade is done and the antler harpoon head is blocked out, according to the reference drawing by the client.

With a little more work done on it, the endblade and harpoon head remind me of those kid's flip books with the split pages where you mix and match the pictures so you can see a giraffe's head on a lion's body with a peacock's tail.  The tip of the harpoon is Middle Dorset, with a tip fluted endblade, although the endblade base is not a Dorset style.  The mid section of the toggling harpoon head, where the endblade meets the harpoon head, is modeled on Groswater Palaeoeskimo artifacts, but the base of the harpoon head, with the double line holes and symmetrical basal spurs is Late Dorset in design.  By the time its all done there will be some Thule Inuit design elements and Beothuk aspects built into the mix.

This one's for Steve.  There's my signature "TR" in the lower right corner - just for you.

Photo Credits: Tim Rast

Friday, November 9, 2012

Dorswater* Endblade

Groswater endblade, Dorsal view
Have you ever asked yourself, "Could plano-convex box-based Groswater Palaeoeskimo endblades have been tip-fluted?"  I mean, who hasn't?  Maybe you were thinking that the reason we never, or practically never, find tip-fluted Groswater endblades is that there is some mechanical limit that makes it impossible to knap such a thing.

Well, there isn't.

Ventral face with a WHAAAAT?
 If the people who knapped the distinctive Groswater endblades had wanted to, they could have tip-fluted them just fine.  So scratch that one off the list, here's a reproduction of a tip-fluted Groswater endblade that proves the point.  The reason or reasons that Groswater endblades are not tip-fluted is not a function of the other unusual properties of the endblades - that they have a plano-convex or "D" shaped cross-section and a squared box base.  There must have been other reason(s) for the design.

This unusual endblade will tip the one-of-a-kind harpoon reproduction that I'm working on for an archaeologist who wants a single piece that represents all of the various cultures and sites that he's worked on. I haven't initialled it yet, but I promise to sign it.

Photo Credits: Tim Rast

*not a real culture

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Getting the House in Order

Before, Front of the House
This week we're getting the house in order, literally and figuratively.  We're having some work done on the house and the contractor should begin work by the end of the week, so here are a couple "before" pictures.  The vinyl siding is coming off and clapboard is going up on the back and front.  We're getting some new windows, patio door and a deck built off the back of the house.  It'll be a big difference, and something that we've been putting off and saving up for a couple of years.

We're also getting our estates in order.  A friend of ours took on his own law office on November 1st.  We've known John Taylor-Hood for years and have used him whenever we need a lawyer.  In celebration of taking over the practice he's having a two-for-one Will deal during the month of November.  There's an extra discount for craft producers in the province (I served with his wife, Vicky, on the executive of the Craft Council of Newfoundland and Labrador).  So Lori and I are getting our wills done up and getting an extra pair for her parents for Christmas.  I remember when a friend was someone who sat next to you on the school bus, now its someone who'll execute your will for you.  

Before, Back of the House

Photo Credits: Tim Rast

Monday, November 5, 2012

Doing stuff

Back in the shed!
I still have a fair bit of computer mapping left to do this fall, but I've been getting a little stir crazy trying to make myself sit at the computer all day.  I got a first draft of the site plans done last week, so I've been looking for slightly more active tasks around the house.  I have a handful of Elfshot orders that I've been slow to start, but I finally got into the shed today to start work on a harpoon for one of the guys that I work with during the summer.  There are a couple other small knapping projects and an atlatl dart to make before Christmas.

Lori and I did a few little jobs around the house this weekend.  We planted 150 crocus bulbs in the back yard.  One of the downsides of long seasons in the field is that we don't really get to enjoy the yard in the summer.  Planting bulbs seems like a good fit for our lifestyle.  They go into the ground later in the season when we are home and they come up early enough in the spring that we are still here to enjoy them.
If you've been to our house you will have probably noticed that we've been painting the porch door for a couple of years.  Sadly, that painting project is finally coming to a conclusion.  Another couple coats and it should be hanging up again sometime tomorrow.  I'll miss the green tape.

This harpoon is a good place to get started back in the shed.  The guy I'm making it for gave me detailed plans to work from.  Its an interesting piece.  It isn't specific to any one culture, but combines stylistic elements from all the different archaeological cultures that he's worked on. 
 Photo Credits: Tim Rast

Friday, November 2, 2012

Ptarmigan, Baffin Island

We saw this pair of Ptarmigan in August of this year.

Photo Credit: Tim Rast

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