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

1 comment:

  1. Beautiful work, Tim. And by coincidence, my latest find in the beach gravels near my home on British Columbia's Sunshine Coast is a triangular, 3/16" thick harpoon blade made of a green chert. Deliberately basally thinned, its purpose is immediately apparent. Length: 1 1/4" and thn -- very thin (3/16" eye measurement)


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