Friday, August 30, 2013

Why Antique Dorset Palaeoeskimo Reproductions?

Dorset (L) and Thule (R)
harpoon head reproductions
Most of the Dorset Palaeoeskimo and Thule-Inuit reproductions for the Clyde River order are made now.  I just need to do some assembly on the composite arrows and harpoons and wait for various glues, rawhide and sinew bindings to dry.  The only major pieces that I haven't started on are a few microblades and a core.  I'm leaving them until last because they always take me a bit of time and luck and that will give me extra drying time on the other pieces.  Throughout the assembly stage, I've been antiquing the Dorset Palaeoeskimo antler and whalebone reproductions.  I'm doing this to create a visual contrast between the two sets and also to illustrate one of the most significant archaeological discoveries in the Canadian Arctic.

Antiqued Dorset Palaeoeskimo harpoon head reproduction
in antler
The Inuit have always said that there were other people living in the Eastern Arctic before they arrived.  They called them the Tunit (Tunnit, Tuniit, etc).  In 1925, an archaeologist named Diamond Jenness identified the Cape Dorset culture based on a set of artifacts from Cape Dorset, Baffin Island.  He recognized that these artifacts were not quite like the tools made by the Inuit and their ancestors and he suggested that the Cape Dorset culture pre-dated the Inuit.  One of the clues that helped Jenness identify the age of the culture was the dark colour of the artifacts.  The more recent Inuit artifacts that Jenness was familiar with were relatively light coloured, while these artifacts from Cape Dorset were made in a peculiar style and were a darker brown.  Today we recognize that the people that the Inuit called the Tunit and the people who left behind the artifacts that Jenness' called the Cape Dorset culture were most likely one and the same.

Diamond Jenness photo and brief bio from a display on his work at the Canadian Museum of Civilization. (click to enlarge)

Some of the first dark stained artifacts from Cape Dorset that helped Jenness define the Cape Dorset culture in 1925.  CMC display.  (Click to Enlarge)

Inuit artifacts collected during the 1913-1918 Canadian Arctic Expedition and studied by Jenness.  He correctly surmised that the dark artifacts from Cape Dorset must have been significantly older.

I want to represent Jenness' discovery in
the colour contrast of the dark coloured
Palaeoeskimo reproductions and the light
coloured Thule/Inuit reproductions in this set.
Since the artifact reproductions in this set represent both early Inuit and Dorset Palaeoeskimo cultures and they are going to be used in a teaching collection on Baffin Island, I thought it would be appropriate to reflect the same colour contrast in the bone, antler and ivory tools that Jenness first noticed in the collection that he studied from Cape Dorset.

Photo Credits: Tim Rast

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Plans and Profiles: Elaine Anton, Archaeology and Ethnology Collections Manager at The Rooms

Elaine Anton at The Rooms
(photo: Anne Chafe)
Elaine Anton manages the archaeology and ethnology collections stored and displayed at The Rooms here in St. John's.  Her job in the Provincial Museum Division is to keep the collections organized and accessible, which are two essential tasks.  Collections Managers, like Elaine, create the difference between a pile of boxes in a basement and a living collection that is an asset to researchers, students and the community.  Archaeological collections belong to all of us and there's a heavy responsibility to keep them relevant to the people of today, while preserving them for future generations.

Plans and Profiles #19: Elaine Anton, Collections Manager for Archaeology and Ethnology at The Rooms

1) Tell me a little bit about your job.

I’m the Collections Manager for Archaeology and Ethnology at The Rooms in the Provincial Museum Division. A mouthful, but essentially I look after all of the archaeology collections that have been transferred here after being submitted to the province via the Provincial Archaeology Office. I also look after a relatively small Ethnology collection of Innu, Inuit and Mi’kmaq artifacts.

While I've held a number of different positions with the Museum since I started, they've always overlapped in one way or another with collections management. Over the past several years a lot of my work has involved supporting exhibitions here at The Rooms, which means helping to select artifacts and getting them ready to go on display, assisting with text writing and editing, and maintaining the databases that track all of the artifacts used.

Elaine giving a tour of the vaults to researchers attending
a historical archaeology conference in St. John's
(photo: Lori Temple)
Supporting researchers who want to look at the province’s archaeology collection is also a primary function of the position. We've assisted many students from Memorial University as well as hosting researchers from across Canada and beyond. We have a great lab space that allows people to come down and spend a bit of time with the collections.

Finally we also support a number of loans of artifacts for exhibitions throughout the country, and particularly to community museums around the province every summer.

2) How did you become interested in this particular field?

Artifacts in the cabinets
I think I've always enjoyed organizing things and discovering things in boxes. I grew up going to the Royal Ontario Museum and the Ontario Science Centre a lot. I remember really liking the discovery gallery the ROM had in the basement for kids that had all these edukits you could take down and open up. There were animal skeletons, Egyptian hieroglyphics puzzles and other museum behind-the-scenes sort of things. And of course once you were finished you had to pack everything back neatly into the box and return it to the shelves.

As for my adult career path to collections management, I think it started when I took a field school when I was an undergrad at the University of Toronto. I found that I really enjoyed the lab part of archaeology work - cleaning the artifacts, labeling them, organizing them. While there’s something neat about finding that special artifact in the ground, I like being able to see the bigger picture back in the lab. And there’s also discovering artifact gems that didn't make themselves known until they were cleaned.

3) Has your job changed since you originally began working there? How?

The Archaeology and Ethnology lab at The Rooms.
(Don't use the door for scale - its like 10 feet tall)
I began working at the museum in 1998 when we were The Newfoundland Museum and we were in the old museum building on Duckworth St. In 2005 we opened here at The Rooms. The improved space and facilities made the job a lot easier. We no longer had to squeeze researchers into one room shared with cabinets stacked three high. This is good too since over the past ten years there has been an increase in the number of researchers who come down to look at our collections.

Of course with the improved building came also improved exhibition space which means we’ve been able to get a lot more artifacts out and on display since 2005. I would say that the increased involvement of the collections manager in exhibitions is one of the main ways the job has changed.

4) What’s one thing that you wish archaeologists would do to make your job easier?

Be as organized as you possibly can be.

Local and international researchers make use of collections.
This would cover ensuring you’re collecting the right information in the field, making sure your cataloguing is clear and correct and reviewing your collections before you submit them to the Provincial Archaeology Office to ensure all the artifacts are accounted for and the proper documentation accompanies it.

The thing to keep in mind with collections is to think about being someone who opens the boxes of what you have submitted today fifteen years from now. Will it make sense to someone else? Can they read your catalogue numbers? Will they be able to find everything possible about the site? Will they be able to use your work to help answer future questions?

Being as organized as you possibly can be also holds true for coming down to The Rooms to research. Getting in touch with me a week or two at least before you want to do research is good since we do go through busy times when it’s not always possible to arrange something on short notice. As well, the more information you have about what you want to look at, the better I can help get what you need.

5) If you could give your younger self advice at the start of your career, what would it be?

Do what you did.

I was very fortunate to have had the variety of experiences I did. This allowed me to end up with a broad set of skills that lets me do a number of different things easily.

6) Are there skills that you didn't learn in school that are important in your job? What are they?

The Vaults
The training I had as a conservator through my Artifact Conservation Techniques program at Sir Sandford Fleming collage, along with the eight month internship I had at the Newfoundland Museum really provided an excellent foundation for this job. This was further complimented by the work I did for my MA at MUN on Labrador Palaeoeskimo collections.

Beyond what I was taught, I would list being organized and being able to pay attention to detail are what is needed in this position – which often can’t be taught so much but are traits people who do this work have.

Computer applications have changed so much over the years. As such, you need to be computer comfortable and learn new programs as they come along and try be open to change as best as possible.

7) How do you unwind when you need to get away from your job?
Elaine in Spain. (Photo: Lori White)

I really enjoy travel. I find physically removing myself from my day- to-day environment allows me to completely let go of all work thoughts and allows me to relax - which is something everyone should do, despite how busy things may be! And while some museum and archaeology site visits are fun when on holiday, I equally enjoy just roaming around a city or sitting by the pool with a book and a drink.

8) If you had to pick a fictional character to work as your assistant, who would you pick? Why?

Doctor Who for his insatiable curiosity and for the ability to use The Tardis to time travel and maybe go back and figure out just what the heck *that* artifact is! - While any past Doctor would be good the particularly quirky current Matt Smith version would be a fun one.

9) What books or websites would you recommend if people want to learn more about your field of work in general? Or your job in particular?

Researcher space in the Lab
For collections management principles and policies:

Things Great and Small: Collections Management Policies by John E. Simmons, 2005

Collection Conundrums: Solving Collections Management Mysteries, Rebecca Buck and Jean Gilmore Eds., 2007

For basic museum operations and exhibit work:

Museum Basics by Timothy Ambrose and Crispin Paine (Apr 12 2006)

The Manual of Museum Exhibitions By Barry Lord and Gail Dexter Lord, 2002

If you want to view archaeology collections at The Rooms, you can contact me at


Do you know someone with an interesting job in archaeology?  Maybe its you?  Let me know:

Photo Credits: 
Elaine Anton, unless otherwise noted in the caption
Plans and Profiles banner: Tim Rast, based on a linocut by Lori White

Monday, August 26, 2013

Thule Harpoon Socket

Thule harpoon with whalebone
socket and foreshaft
Part of the order for Piqqusilirivvik Inuit Cultural Learning Facility in Clyde River is a Thule harpoon reproduction.  I've had one hanging on my wall for a few years now and if I was a more careful with it, then it would be ready to go.  As it is, I have a few parts to replace on it because when I drove it from Calgary to Edmonton last spring for the knapping workshops I didn't pack it very well and the socket and tension piece broke during the drive.  It was fine in the airplane there and back again, but I just tossed it in the car for the road trip and when I took it out again a couple of the whalebone pieces had cracked.  My fault.

new socket (left) broke socket (right)
Originally, I was intending to repair the socket with some whalebone pegs, as I thought it would make an interesting reproduction.  Repairs like that help antique a piece and give it a history.  Which would have been fine to hang on my wall, but for a client, I want to have everything perfect and this repair is an opportunity to learn from previous mistakes.  The broken socket was make on a section of sperm whale bone - part of a rib or mandible that I got years ago.  Sperm whale bone is very dense, so I used a section of bone from near the edge that was primarily interior bone, with a relatively thin sheet of more dense exterior bone on one face.  The crack on the socket happened at the interface between the interior and exterior bone. In the photos, you can see the dense exterior bone because its white, while the more spongy interior bone is grey.  On sperm whale bone the interior bone is still pretty dense, but there is a difference between interior and surface bone. 

You can see where I cut the socket
out of the whale rib.  For scale, the
boards in the background are 5 1/4"
 wide and the tusk is 17" long.
For the replacement socket, I used a section from a humpback whale rib.  I cut a piece out of the middle of the rib that matched the width and thickness of the previous socket and shaped it to fit onto the wood harpoon main shaft and accept the base of the whalebone foreshaft.  The advantage that this socket has over the previous socket is that it is entirely made from the dense outer bone layer.  The spongy bone on the interior is what I carved out to make the socket for the wood shaft and the bone foreshaft.  It should be more durable.

The new socket and ribs (left), broken socket (middle)
 and walrus tusk with a natural concavity in the base (right) 
Archaeologically, these socket pieces look more or less the same as the reproductions in these photos.  Sometimes the holes on each end meet in the middle and form an hourglass shaped hole running through the middle of the bone or ivory tube.  Some are made from whalebone and others are made from walrus ivory.  Antler can work too, but there are taboos about mixing land animal parts on tools designed for sea mammal hunting.  The base of a walrus tusk is naturally concave where all the nerves and pulp run into the tooth.  A walrus tusk is the perfect thing to make a socket like this - its already the right size and shape and the large hollow in the base saves the carver even more work in shaping the socket.  Plus, the tip of the tusk that is removed can be worked into the foreshaft.  I went with whalebone on this particular reproduction, although it will be fit with a ivory harpoon head.

Photo Credits: Tim Rast.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Progress and Reindeer Skins

The harpoon heads are
done, but the harpoon
shaft needs some
I'm slowly plugging away at the Dorset Palaeoeskimo harpoon heads.  One of them needs to fit onto a complete harpoon, so I worked a bit today on a tamarack main shaft for it.  I'm using the L'Anse aux Meadows Groswater Palaeoeskimo harpoon shaft as the model for it.  The harpoon heads and foreshaft are all pretty much done, unless I decide to antique them.  The main shaft has a two part socket, the same as the shaft found in the bog at L'Anse aux Meadows.  The little knobby bit of wood on the left side of the photo will be lashed onto the main shaft with sealskin to create the complete socket.  Its a good design.  The Dorset didn't have drills, so its a simpler way to make a deep hole to fit a harpoon foreshaft and when everything is lashed together the forces exerted on the harpoon through use would wedge all the separate pieces together more tightly.

The dark coloured harpoon shaft is one of the two harpoons that I made based on the L'Anse aux Meadows harpoon when Parks Canada loaned it to me to reproduce.  The lighter one is the new one that I'm working on for the folks in Clyde River.

rangifer tarandus on the deck
At the end of the day, the mailman brought me a big box of reindeer skins.  Some of these are for the Dorset Parka that I'll get back to someday and some are for other craft's producers in the Province to work with.  They're really beautiful hides.  Until I find the time to work on the parka, they're going to continue to be used as lap blankets on the deck.  We've had so many nice nights this summer to curl up under the skins and watch the stars.  They also make pretty nice backdrops for photographing reproductions against, and I'm sure once I start doing demos and workshops again this fall some of them will join my travelling kit.

Middle Dorset Palaeoeskimo harpoon head reproduction. Chert endblade, antler harpoon head, whalebone foreshaft.

Photo Credits: Tim Rast

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Newfoundland and Labrador Archaeological Society meetings

Starting a new organization is all about team building and
keeping the volunteers interested and motivated
I spent the day on Newfoundland and Labrador Archaeological Society (NLAS) business with several of the other volunteers who were foolish enough to get involved with launching this new organization.  There is still a lot of behind the scenes planning and work being done to get everything organized, but we are also taking baby steps towards taking on a more public role. Earlier in the summer we set up a Facebook page: and Twitter account: and in the next few months we will begin rolling out more interactive and public programming.

On the nuts and bolts side of things, I went downtown this morning with the other directors to open up a bank account.  We shopped around a lot, but eventually settled on the TD Bank, because they have a very affordable account specifically designed for not-for-profit organizations, which is only $1.95/month.  (Actually, its free if we keep a balance of $5000 in the account - so we can add that to our list of goals to aim for.)  We made our first deposit of money donated to the society and our first withdrawal to cover start up costs, and were left with a small balance to build on.

After the meeting at The Rooms,
Elaine gave Steve and I a tour of the
new fourth floor exhibit.  What a
great addition to the museum!
In the afternoon, I met with folks from The Rooms and the Provincial Archaeology Office to discuss plans for the upcoming International Archaeology Day on October 19th.  There are still details to work out and more people to consult, but I think we have a pretty fun day planned at The Rooms.  I'll provide updates on this blog and on our NLAS facebook page as the day draws nearer, but we plan to have something for the whole family.  It will be one of our first public NLAS events and will give us a chance to let people know what we are up to and will also provide an opportunity to start a conversation with everyone interested in our province's past about what we would all like to see from a Newfoundland and Labrador Archaeological Society.

Photo Credits:
1,3: Tim Rast
2: Screen grab from the Newfoundland and Labrador Archaeological Society Facebook Page.

Monday, August 19, 2013

A Few New Harpoon Heads

They are damp, because antler and
whalebone become soft and easy to
 work when soaked in water.
I'm continuing to work on Dorset Palaeoeskimo artifact reproductions this week.  Here are a few in-progress shots of some antler harpoon heads.  Two of them are self-bladed, meaning that the harpoon head itself comes to a sharp piercing point and two of them are slotted to fit knapped chert endblades.  They are all Middle Dorset styles, although I intend to add a little slice to the base of the selfbladed one without the barbs, which will give it a slightly earlier appearance.

Chert endblade and antler harpoon head.  The general shape is there, but I need to do a bit more work on the line hole and will probably antique the antler with a bit of tea-staining to give the appearance of age.

They're getting close to being finished, but the pencil marks
show where the next set of cutting and shaping needs to
take place.
Even though these are styles that I've made before and often, I still progress very slowly and deliberately on them.  I block them out roughly and then cut and abrade them progressively into shape.  In between each cutting stage I bring them inside and compare them to photos and drawings of actual artifacts.  Even on relatively simple and familiar harpoon heads like these, I compare them to photos and map out the next cuts in pencil a half dozen or more times.  There are details that show up in the photos that I think are important to making an accurate reproduction that don't show up or make sense until the harpoon head is nearly finished.  The slow pace and constant comparisons lead to a more accurate reproduction and more opportunities to notice subtle details on the actual artifacts, both of which are important to me.

Photo Credits: Tim Rast

Friday, August 16, 2013

Palaeoeskimo Artifact Reproductions

Two tip-fluted endblades, a knife,
and a side-scraper
I'm working on a few Dorset Palaeoeskimo artifact reproductions in the workshop this week.  These are going to Piqqusilirivvik, the new Inuit Cultural Learning Facility in Clyde River, Nunavut.  The complete set will be primarily Palaeoeskimo and Thule artifact reproductions.  I've made a lot of these pieces over the years, so its a good order to ease my way back into production.

I'm still debating on whether to leave this small knife as it is, or resharpen it down a bit more to give it more of a used look.  I'm happy with how the flake scars meet in the middle - that little ridge of diving step fractures has a very Palaeoeskimo feel to it.  I could probably retouch the edge a bit more and still maintain that detail.

Photo Credits: Tim Rast

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Plans and Profiles: Kasia Szremski Researching Interactions and Agriculture in Peru

Kasia Szremski Excavating a camelid
mandible (photo: Jordan Farfan Lopez)
Kasia Szremski is an archaeologist completing her PhD research on ancient agricultural societies who lived on the slopes of the Peruvian Andes.  She is studying at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee and as she moves into the final phase of her studies, she has set up a crowdfunding initiative to cover the costs of some important radiocarbon dates and publishing fees.  I asked Kasia about her research, the evolution of her project and crowdfunding...

Plans and Profiles #18: Kasia Szremski, Interaction and Agriculture in the Ancient Andes

1) Tell me a little bit about your project.

My project focuses on understanding the interactions between coastal, highland, and local mid-valley (chaupiyungino) groups who all lived in the Huanangue Valley on the western slopes of the Central Andes during the Late Intermediate Period (1100-1470 CE). Specifically, I am interested in how interactions between these groups affected agricultural production, and vice versa, how agricultural production affected inter-group interactions. I began investigating these matters in 2008 and 2009 by conducting survey in the Huanangue Valley as the valley had not yet been studied archaeologically. During survey, we documented evidence for occupation from the Late Archaic Period (3000 – 1800 BCE) to the Late Horizon (1470 – 1532 CE). Furthermore, for the time period that I am interested in, the Late Intermediate Period, we were able to document the presence of four different groups: the coastal Chancay, probable Atavillos from the highlands, local mid-valley groups, and a fourth group whose cultural affiliation is still unclear. In order to better understand the dynamics of interaction between these groups, I excavated at a site occupied by local mid-valley people (Campo Libre) and a site occupied by the coastal Chancay (Salitre).

2) How did you become interested in this particular problem?

One of the things that I am really interested in is how social identities are formed and maintained/transformed over time. Since Barth, we have known that interaction between groups is an important part of identity formation and there have been several interesting archaeological studies, particularly in the Classical world, looking at how interaction between different groups lead to the formation of Greek and Roman identities (for example, see Knapp and Van Dommelen 2010). The Andes are also a great place to study the impact of intergroup interaction on identity, because it is a region that has extreme ethnic and ecological diversity and many different groups had to interact with each other in order to gain access to different natural resources. However, while many researchers studied interaction between expansive groups such as the Inka or the Wari and the groups that they respectively conquered, less attention has been paid to interaction between small-scale, non-state groups. I feel that studying interaction between these smaller groups is important because it can provide important insight into what local geopolitics were like before expansive groups come into the area as well as to better understand how local geopolitics affected larger regional processes.

Cerro Blanco
I settled on the Huanangue Valley kind of by accident. Originally, I wanted to do my dissertation at a site called San Jose de Cañas, which is a big Chancay administrative center in the lower part of the Huaura Drainage. However, the land that the site is on was illegally sold to the president of a local sugar processing plant and he made it impossible for me to access the site. As such, I bought air photos for the middle part of the Huaura drainage and began exploring the northern branch (also known as the Huaura River). I wasn’t really having any luck with the northern branch, and I starting looking at the small section of the southern branch that appeared in my air photos and saw this huge site (Cerro Blanco- this is where I hope to do my post-doc work) and thought, hmmm, maybe I should go check that valley out.

3) Why did you choose crowdfunding as a means to support your research?

Kasia (right) excavating in a pit near a wall
 (Photo: Luisa Hinostroza)
I chose crowdfunding because, I think that it is an interesting way for scientists and the public to interact. Based on conversations that I have had with people outside of science, it seems clear that the public at large don’t have a clear idea of exactly what it is that scientists do, or how scientists use their grant money. This becomes particularly obvious when one looks at the comment section at the end of articles on scientific discoveries in media, or when one watches Fox News “report” on things like climate change or the infamous duck penis study. Crowdfunding is one way to help bridge this gap by getting the public to be actively involved in scientific research. For example, on Microryza, the crowdfunding platform that I am using, not only do you have to explain your project and justify your budget, but you provide your backers with periodic updates about your research, which gives the donors an insider’s view of how discoveries are actually made. You can see my page here, as an example.  Furthermore, I think that crowdfunding may become an important source of funding for small, seed projects, especially for younger researchers since the competition for traditional grants has become exceptionally fierce.

4) If you could ask the people who lived at your site(s) one question what would it be?

Campo Libre
I would ask the people at Campo Libre why they liked building crooked walls! Mapping that site was so frustrating sometimes because none of the walls are straight, and buildings rarely had walls that met at right angles. Also, when building rooms, they really like to make one long wall that would curve around at the corner in order to form two sides of the room, and then they would build two shorter walls to close off the structure. I really want to know why they did that, because it seems like such an unusual way to build, at least for the region.

5) Why did you choose Vanderbilt University?

After I completed my undergraduate degree at the University of Chicago, I knew that I wanted to pursue a PhD in Andean archaeology but was unsure of where to apply. As much as I loved Chicago, I knew was that I couldn’t stand another Chicago winter! I consulted with one of my professors, and he suggested that I check out Vanderbilt, so I did some online research and was immediately impressed by what the department had to offer and I also really like the theoretical approach taken by many members of the faculty. Overall, my time at Vanderbilt has been great, we have a very small student to faculty ratio and the faculty is very supportive of student research initiatives. We also have a really tight knit graduate community, so overall the experience there has been really great.

6) How do you unwind when you need to get away from your research?

I am an avid runner and find that running is the best way to unwind and relax after a long day. While we were excavating, I became really well known in Sayan, where our field house was, because I would run every evening after getting back from the field. This proved to be quite the attraction for the local kids, who would track me down every afternoon in order to find out what time I was planning to run that day so that they could join me. Since starting grad school, I have competed in 5 marathons, and right now am getting ready for my 6th!

7) If you could give your younger self advice at the start of your career, what would it be?

I think I would tell my younger self to slow down and relax a little bit and not to worry so much about the little stuff.

8) What archaeological discovery or project do you wish you could have been part of?

Oh, there are so many! I have always been fascinated by Egyptian archaeology and I think it would have been amazing to have worked on some of the early expeditions in the 20’s and 30’s. In terms of more modern projects, I would love the chance to work at Cahokia or at Teotihuacan, which are my two favorite non-Andean sites. I finally got the chance to visit Cahokia last year and it was amazing. I hope to make it to Teotihuacan soon.

9) What books or websites would you recommend if people want to learn more about your area of interest in general? Or your project in particular?

Unfortunately, the region where I work is badly understudied and there aren’t very many publications, yet. However, there are a bunch of projects that have started in the Huaura drainage over the last 5 years, so hopefully this will change soon! The best source of information about the Chancay culture is Estudios sobre la Cultural Chancay, edited by Andrej Kranowski. Also, Maria Rostworowski’s Señorios Indigenas de Lima y Canta has some interesting information about the political organization of Huaura valley groups during the early part of the Colonial Period. The literature on Interaction Theory is extensive, but I think that Bernard Knapp gives a good overview of the dominate themes in Prehistoric and Protohistoric Cyprus.

You can follow and support Kasia's research on the crowdfunding website Microryza: How did feasting promote cooperation between cultures in the ancient Andes?


Do you have a research project that you would like to see profiled here or know of a student, colleague or mentor whose work should be highlighted? Drop me a note and let me know:

Photo Credits:
Kasia Szremski, unless otherwise noted in the captions
Plans and Profiles Banner, Tim Rast based on a linocut by Lori White

Monday, August 12, 2013

Still on vacation

slate and recycled wood coaster
Its been a few days of odd jobs around the house.  I haven't had a summer at home for three or four years and even though I have Elfshot work that I should be concentrating on, I can't help but take advantage of the season.  I put in some grass seed the other day and today was sunny and breezy, so we used the good drying conditions as an excuse to pop off the front doors and paint them black to go with the new clapboard and fixtures we got over the winter.  The workshop has gotten a bit of use, but I'm not churning out Elfshot reproductions; I'm making deck accessories.  I made a few of these little slate and wood arm coasters to fit the deck furniture and re-topped an old set of cast iron legs to make a small table for the propane grill.    

This was once a little garden bench, but currently its a grill table.

Photo Credits: Tim Rast

Friday, August 9, 2013

Cleaning out the shed

Airing everything out
I didn't do much tidying up in my workshop after my last few jobs in the spring before heading into the field.  So when I got home a few days ago it wasn't a very inviting space.  The dust and debris from the spring work was ankle deep and strewn across the floor.  I tackled a first big cleaning today by hauling all the floor clutter out, opening up the windows and doors and giving everything a blast with the leaf blower to get the dust moving.  It'll take a few more days like today to get all the shelves organized and everything stowed away, but getting that grey layer of dust off everything makes the place a bit more colourful and inviting.

Buckets of various raw materials; rocks, bones, antler, wood, leather

This will be my workspace for the fall, winter and spring, so I'd better make it functional and comfortable again.
Photo Credits: Tim Rast

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

And now for something completely different...

Lori contemplating supper. Amanda contemplating evil.
Photo Credit: Tim Rast

Monday, August 5, 2013

Checking Inventory

Thule Inuit Ulu and Recent Indian arrowheads
Its time to get organized and back into the workshop.  I have a handful of orders to work on over the coming weeks and some workshops and demonstrations to prepare for the fall. A few of the workshops are on familiar turf, but others will require a bit of travel and planning to pull off.  In the meantime, I've been rummaging through my inventory to start piecing together a few sets of Beothuk, Inuit, and Palaeoeskimo artifact reproductions for several clients who have been very patiently waiting for me to get out of the field and back into the studio.  Its nice to start filling boxes without getting too dirty.

Photo Credit: Tim Rast

Friday, August 2, 2013

First deck party

We had our first get together on the deck tonight.   Friends from near and far came over to help break in the new space and furniture. 

The caribou skins were just the thing to take the chill off the early August night.

Photo Credits: Lori White
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