Friday, April 20, 2012

Wrapping up the Week

Bird combs, ready to ochre
Today, I'm working on the last of the reproductions bound for teaching kits and a mock dig at Red Bay, Labrador.  Its primarily Groswater Palaeoeskimo and Maritime Archaic Indian reproductions, although there is one Recent Indian arrow in the mix.  The arrow is done and all of the Groswater reproductions are finished, except for the lashings and line on a harpoon.  

Grinding the ochre
The Maritime Archaic pieces are all finished, except for the ochre.  I think I'll ochre all the archaic artifacts reproductions this time. I still don't know if things like adzes or projectile points would have been covered in ochre when they were in day-to-day use, but it does help make the reproductions look cool.  It also creates a talking point for interpreters.  My pet theory is that ochre and grease on tools in this damp part of the world was a waterproofing agent that would help prolong the life of the objects that they coated.

Patty and Bjarne and whalebone
It would be simple enough to test a theory like that, I just need to get organized enough to come up with an experiment and do it.  Perhaps what I need to do is plan some purely experimental time into my yearly workshop schedule, rather than try to tack the experiments on to regular Elfshot work.  I alluded in Wednesday's post that I wanted to get a little more organized about the experimental archaeology side of the job. While Bjarne Grønnow was in town earlier this week for Patty Well's Ph.D. defense (passed with distinction - congratulations!) I had a chance to hang out while the two of them and Priscilla Renouf went through some of the organic Dorset artifacts from Port au Choix. There's a place for making reproductions and playing around with them to see how they work and what their limits are, but Bjarne encouraged a little more systematic and rigourous approach to experimenting with reproductions.  Hopefully, more on that later.

Groswater harpoon assembly
Anyhow, for now, I'm wrapping up one order in the workshop and moving full time into the Cape Krusenstern reproductions next week. I'll probably post a few more shots of the reproductions bound for Red Bay once everything is assembled, stained, and dried.  There are one or two pieces in there that I have never made before, so it was fun for me.

Burning blubber inside a Choris pot for Cape Krusenstern.  I want to stain the inside of the pot  with grease as much as possible before breaking it apart into sherds.  A big hole blew out in the side above the flame not long after this photo. Oh well, it has to come apart somehow.

 Photo Credits: Tim Rast

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