Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Happy Halloween

The hardest part about this costume was finding a replacement hat for my dad to wear while I was out trick or treating.
Photo Credit: The Beverly Hillbillies, Doris Rast

Monday, October 29, 2012

Pre-Dorset Endscraper with Serrated Base

Here's an interesting little artifact that we found on a Pre-Dorset site in Nunavut this summer.  Its an endscraper, with a smooth working edge and deeply serrated hafting area.  A lot of the diagnostic tools from this particular site had serrated bases.  It was my first time seeing this sort of treatment on bases, but I guess it does show up in the early Palaeoeskimo toolkits.

That's a 5cm scale.

Its a cool way to rough up the hafting area.  Its almost the opposite of notches - its more like spines, which seems really odd to me, but I guess it was the right way to haft things for the folks using this site sometime in the centuries around 3500 years ago.

Photo Credit: Tim Rast

Friday, October 26, 2012

Lots of Travel, Demos and Workshops this Winter

It looks like you will find me on the road rather than in the workshop this winter.  Starting in January, I'll be conducting artifact replication workshops in Resolute Bay and Grise Fiord in Nunavut on behalf of Parks Canada.  It looks like I'll be returning to Calgary a fourth time for the Flintknapping courses sponsored by the Archaeological Society of Alberta at the end of February/early March.  If all goes well,  I'll get out to some other centres in Alberta during that trip.  Later in the winter, I'm hoping to get to Labrador to work with collections, colleagues, and students there.  Watch this blog for updates.
Yesterday I was working with grade fives participating in the Open Minds program at The Rooms.  Always great energy.
Photo Credits: Tim Rast

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

2012 Inuit Studies Online Conference

From October 24-28 there is a large, international Inuit Studies Conference being held in Washington, D.C.  If you're not able to attend in person, you can register to attend the conference online for free.  There are 22 sessions being live streamed between October 25 and 27th - you can check out the complete program list at the Smithsonian's conference website here:

According to the conference website:
"The 2012 Inuit Studies Online Conference will cover a broad spectrum of topics, including climate change and indigenous people; international cooperation in the Arctic; roles of Museums and museum collections in preserving Inuit languages, heritage, and culture; governmental programs in the northern regions and their interactions with local communities and Inuit cultural/political institutions."

Photo Credit: Screen Grab from

Monday, October 22, 2012


Tidying the shed
It seems to be taking a long time to get back into a fall routine this year.  I finally cleaned out the mess left from last spring in my workshop.  So there's at least one less excuse to not getting out there and working again.  I can't believe how green and warm the backyard still is.  My first Open Minds classroom visit is this week, so hopefully that will help me gain some momentum in working with rocks again.
Photo Credit: Lori White

Friday, October 19, 2012

Putting Tick Marks on Contour Lines

You know those little tick marks that you put on contour lines to show the direction of slope?  Here's a confession, every year for the past 15 or 20 years, I've been adding those lines to maps individually, one at a time, with Photoshop or Adobe Illustrator   I'd draw one tick mark and copy it a bunch of times and then rotate and place each one manually.  Maps made at the end of the day or later in the week had fewer and fewer tick marks spaced wider and wider apart.  But not anymore, here's a trick to make those tick marks perfectly consistent and much simpler. I'm using Adobe Illustrator in this example, but it should work in any vector graphics program that lets you make dashed lines.  (click on the images to make them bigger)

I want to add the little tick marks to the contour line looping around the word "Bedrock". I've clicked on it with the "Selection Tool", which is why its highlighted blue.  Once its selected, Copy It - I usually just use CTRL C.

Paste a copy of your line onto your map.  I like to use CTRL F so that it lies exactly on top of the original line and I usually put it on a separate layer, but that's optional.  I've moved it a little bit in this image so you can see it next to the original line.

Change the weight of the line.  You can make it any weight you want - the thickness of the line will be the length of your tick marks.  I made my 7 points.

Now make your solid line a dashed line.  The default setting will usually be evenly spaced dashes and gaps. Also, its important that you select "Butt Cap" for the end of your line.  The other end cap styles will make circles or rectangles rather than nice thin lines.

To create the individual tick marks, change the spacing of the gaps and dashes. I like using 1pt for the dashes and 20 pts for the gaps. 

On a simple line, without any major curves you can just move the dashed line next to the original line and you're done. On a more complex line, like the one in the example, you may have to scale the line up or down so that it matches the original curve.  You can use the bounding box to drag the line, or the scale function to increase or decrease the size of the line.

Sometimes the line doesn't fit exactly, so you may need to use the Direct Selection Tool to select and move individual nodes or line segments.  Even on the most complicated contours, I find that I can usually get 80-90% of the line to fit just by scaling or using the bounding box, this is really just for small tweaks.

That's it, its done.  On a simple line this takes a few seconds.  On a complex line, it might take a few minutes.

Photo Credits: Screen Grabs from Adobe Illustrator

Wednesday, October 17, 2012


Red Paint Chips
Its kind of a red day today.  Its not just the news that the Canadian Museum of Civilization is now History that has me seeing red, but I'm also putting a package of red ochre in the mail this evening and Lori and I are looking at red paint chips for some long overdue home renovations.  I really don't want to get sucked into another long rant about the current government's approach to culture and history in Canada, so I'll just say that I share the sentiment of the Canadian Association of University Teachers when they say that Replacing the Canadian Museum of Civilization is a Serious Mistake.

Red Ochre
In happier red news, I'm putting a few hundred grams of red ochre from the Avalon peninsula in the mail for Christopher van Donkelaar, an artist in Ontario who works using natural paints and pigments.  I first heard about Christopher's work when his 100 mile art project  was reported in Canadian Geographic in 2009.  Very cool stuff.  He contacted me earlier in the summer about some ochre from Newfoundland and I'm finally getting around to sending it.  I must say, a half kilo of powdered ochre in a soft envelope makes a very suspicious package.  I hope it makes its way through Canada Post.

Photo Credits: Tim Rast

Monday, October 15, 2012

Iqaluit Public Art

This is a sample of some of the public art found throughout Iqaluit, Nunavut.  These shots are from a few weeks ago in September.  The large stone carvings line the streets and are clustered in small rock gardens.

Photo Credits: Tim Rast

Friday, October 12, 2012

Red-Winged Black Bird

Red-Winged Black Bird near Vulcan, Alberta. July 2012.

Photo Credit: Tim Rast

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Mapping Again

Lines and labels from the paper map
 overlying the air photo.
This fall, I'm making the site maps from the summer's work.  The purpose of these maps is to show the distribution of structures and features across the site, the areas where our mapping and excavation took place and provide some details of the landscape that the site is located in.  The information for these maps comes from air photos, data recorded with a total station, and paper maps drawn in the field.

This layer has contour lines created from
 elevation data collected on site using a total station.
I'm combining the different sources together in Adobe Illustrator and trying to pull the most relevant and accurate information from each of the different sources into one clear image that represents each site and the work that we did there.  As a bit of a bonus, this year John and Corey figured out the steps to georeference our air photos and paper maps to our total station data in Surfer so that we can drape the photos and maps over a 3D wire frame, so I'll also be able to use some 3D landscapes to put the sites in context.  I'll share some of those as they get done.

I still like making paper maps in the field, although good quality gridded graph paper is getting very hard to find. The local drafting supply shop loves telling me how nobody uses it anymore whenever I try to buy it from them.
 Photo Credits: Tim Rast

Monday, October 8, 2012

CNEHA Display

Archaic Axe, Dorset Knife, Choris Pot
 Thanks to the Council for Northeast Historical Archaeology organizers for pulling off a great conference in St. John's this past week.  Thanks to Gillian and the book room volunteers for looking after my display pieces for me.  I put 10 of my favourite pieces out for folks to view and handle.  Alas, nothing broke, so I can't study breakage patterns or usewear attributable to throngs of bleary eyed academics.  Their elusive activities left no visible trace on this small collection of material culture.  I can barely detect the faint smell of their strong black coffee; I doubt it will last the week.

Beothuk Pendant reproduction in the foreground and walrus bone pressure flaker in the back

ground slate ulu with whalebone handle

Choris pot

Palaeoeskimo side-hafted microblade

The pelts are harp seal on the left and ringed seal on the right
Photo Credits: Tim Rast

Friday, October 5, 2012

New Business Cards

There's a conference in St. John's this weekend for the Council for Northeast Historic Archaeology.  I'll be setting up a small display of reproductions in the bookroom and needed new cards with updated contact information.

Photo Credits: Tim Rast

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Sunrise and new plans

I'm back home and back at work in St. John's.  I'm mostly scanning and digitizing site maps from the summer.  Hopefully I'll get back into the workshop soon and have some new artifact reproductions to show.  Its time to settle into a new fall routine and get some work done around the house.  We're going to try to get the back deck built and maybe a few other home improvements done before the winter.  
Before moving on to new things, here are a couple last photos from Alberta.  Our last morning on the farm had a magnificent sunrise and light showers with a perfect rainbow over the yard.  Hard to leave those big Alberta skies.

Can you identify this piece of farm equipment?  The top photo has a different view.

 Photo Credits: Tim Rast

Monday, October 1, 2012

Five things that I learned from my Dad

There ain't no such a thing as "can't".

You are never too busy to be kind to an animal.
Buy Land.
Develop a hobby that you can do in a retirement home.
Always carry pliers.
Photo Credits:
1,2: Rast Family Photos
3-5: Tim Rast

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