Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Finishing bone hair pins

Bird headed pins,
caribou bone and sealskin
In the studio, I've been finishing a small set of Maritime Archaic bone hairpin reproductions.  These are made from caribou long bones, with bark tanned sealskin barrettes.  I wind up making a few of these every year - here's a blog post from 2009 that explains a little bit more about their age and significance.  They are still a favourite reproduction for me, because they can be made and used exactly the same way that they were used 3 or 4 thousand years ago.  If I make a harpoon, its more than likely that it will be hung on a wall or used in a teaching environment.  More often than not, the arrowheads that I make end up on necklaces or earrings,  which isn't how they were used in the past, but with these bird headed pins, they are used by people today for the same purpose that they were originally designed.  I like that sense of continuity.

Some of them get red ochre stained,
while I leave others natural bone white
Around the house and yard, the spring cleaning is still going on as well.  We have a bulk garbage pick-up scheduled for tomorrow, but the pile of junk on our sidewalk isn't as impressive as I thought it might be.  We have a neighbour doing some renovations next door and in the last week, he's taken a lot of our backyard debris to the dump for us with all the building materials he's been tearing out of his house.  But at least we're getting rid of stuff one way or another.

Cutting the barrettes out of sealskin.  I don't know if the Maritime Archaic Indians would have used the pins with a barrette or if they would have just been stuck into a wound up bun of hair. 
Photo Credits: Tim Rast


  1. Tim, have you ever used the same tool kit, that the pre-contact aboriginals used, to make your reproductions?

    1. Yes, you see tools differently and learned unexpected things when you use a traditional tool kit. My flintknapping kit is predominantly stone and antler, so I guess that most of my knapped reproductions start from basically a pre-contact toolkit.

      I do use stone tools to make organic tools in experimental settings, but most of the production work that I do in bone or antler is machine (or at least metal) assisted. In fact, one of the experiments that I helped out with a few years ago has been written up and should be submitted to a peer-reviewed journal any day now. I haven't gone into too much detail about that particular project on this blog because I wasn't the principal researcher, but if the paper gets accepted, I'm sure I'll put some links up.

      One of the projects that I did document a fair bit on this site as it was going along was when a bunch of friends and I used stone tools to process a hooded sealskin. Search for Hooded Sealskin on this blog and you'll see lots of stone tools in action.

  2. It sure must have given you a real appreciation for modern tools, lol. These people were true craftspeople, weren't they. They made such beautiful items with some really rudimentary tools. Would love to learn to knap, maybe I could take a class with yoy sometime. cheers Ed

    1. I suspect that the workshops sponsored by the Archaeology student society (MUNArch) will be the best bet for regular flintknapping classes in this area. We just wrapped those up for this year, but they should roll around again next winter. The first two evenings were dedicated to flintknapping, but on the third night we were using stone tools to work wood and haft the things made in previous sessions. I think you'd enjoy it.


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