Monday, May 26, 2014

Palaeoeskimo Soapstone Pots

I'm working on a set of Dorset Palaeoeskimo tools, including a small soapstone pot or lamp.  I wasn't really thinking things through when I started carving soapstone today as we are having water interruptions on our street again thanks to the sewer upgrade.  I don't need water for the carving, but soapstone is so dusty that I get covered in chalky white powder from head to toe on every trip to the workshop.  Fortunately its raining, so I could at least splash some rain water on my face until they hook up our waterlines again.

The first vessel that I started on cracked down the middle while I was chiseling out the interior.  Its far enough along that I could use it in a sandbox dig someday or even finish it and repair it with some traditional repair techniques, so its not a total waste.  The second one is turning out a little bit better, or at least it hasn't broke yet.  Its more or less roughed out.  I opted for a simple rectangular form with slightly sloping walls.  The soapstone I'm using is fine enough that I could push it and make a very thin walled lamp, but the soapstone fragments from the site that this vessel will help interpret had relatively thick walled pots, so I think I'll probably leave it as is.  It just needs a bit of finishing and I need to make a final pass on the rim, perhaps adding more of an outside bevel.

The soapstone that I'm using is from Green's Rock and Lapidary in Calgary, so it's not a local stone.  Its extremely soft, which means that I've been able to do a lot of the work with hand tools, although I used a drill to open up the interior.  Even so, the hand tools that I've been using have been metal, so I'll probably make a final pass over the whole surface using a scraper like the one on the railing beside the pot in this photo to leave appropriate stone abrasion marks on the surface.
Photo Credits: Tim Rast

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