Friday, May 27, 2016

Elfshot Jewellery

Earrings sent to
Port au Choix
This spring, the largest selections of Elfshot jewellery can be found in the gift shop at The Rooms and in the Heritage Shop at Port au Choix.  I've completed orders for both retail locations within the past few weeks and here are some images of the necklaces and earrings that each shop recieved to top up their existing inventory.  In the most recent orders, The Rooms focused on reproductions of Newfoundland and Labrador artifacts made from local chert while the Heritage Shop expanded their glass, obsidian and fibre optic glass inventories.

Groswater Palaeoeskimo earrings for The Rooms gift shop

These fibre optic glass necklaces are on their way to Port au Choix

Recycled glass and obsidian earrings for Port au Choix
... and a few Maritime Archaic lances (Port au Choix)
The best selection of chert jewellery by Elfshot can now be found in The Rooms gift shop, here in St. John's
Photo Credits: Tim Rast

Friday, May 6, 2016

Completed Alaskan PalaeoIndian Spears

Alaskan Spear Reproductions
Here are a few photos of the completed set of four PalaeoIndian Spears based on artifacts from Alaska which will be used in a travelling exhibit in that state.  They can be broken down into interchangeable foreshafts and mainshafts, which should make transporting them a little easier.  

PalaeoIndian spear reproductions:  Spruce, Birch, Alder.  Various cherts and flints.  Rawhide, gut, sinew.  Pitch and hide glue.

Fully assembled, the spears range in length from 77 1/2" to 84", with foreshafts ranging from 15 1/2" to 18 1/2" and main shafts ranging from 64 1/2" to 70 1/2".
Generally, the lithic tools that I make are much smaller than these heavy spears.  These have a nice weight to them and should make an intimidating statement alongside the Ice Age mammals of northern Alaska. 
Each foreshaft and mainshaft ends with a tapered "scarf" joint.  The mainshafts have tough rawhide sockets attached to them so that the foreshafts can be fit securely in place.  All of the scarfs have the same angle of cut and the shafts all have similar diameters so the pieces can be mixed and matched with each other.
One of the challenges that I often face in photographing these sorts of reproductions is finding a way to balance the projectiles on edge so that I can photograph them from the side.  This morning, I realized that the plastic safety covers for wall outlets work perfectly for holding pieces this size on edge.  You can see them at work in this photo, but I bet you didn't notice them in the previous photo until I mentioned them here. The prongs are flexible enough that I think they'll work on any projectile from arrows and darts to spears.
Photo Credits: Tim Rast

Thursday, May 5, 2016

PalaeoIndian Points Fitted with Foreshafts

Lashing the points in place with gut
I've been back in the workshop finishing up a set of PalaeoIndian spears for shipment to Alaska.  I've been returning sporadically to this order for several months and I'm finally wrapping things up this week.  Since the last time I updated this project, I've cleaned up the knapped points with pressure flaking and gave them the characteristic rounded bases of the reference pieces.  I've fitted them to hardwood foreshafts with a combination of pitch, hide glue, sinew, and gut lashing.  
The knapped reproductions with reference drawings
Softening the spruce gum and
red ochre pitch on the stove
 I wanted to create a bit of variety in the set so that they didn't all look identical.  I used pitch on some and hide glue on others.  I used caribou sinew on some and gut on others.  The points and foreshafts are all different lengths and sizes, although I did try to keep the proximal ends of the foreshafts the same so that all of the foreshafts would be interchangeable with all of the main shafts.

The points hafted in their foreshafts

Forming the rawhide sockets
 For the joint between the foreshafts and the main shafts, I used a simple tapered scarf join.  Scarf joints are a characteristic of the few surviving PalaeoIndian foreshafts found in North America.  I tend to think of scarfed joints as permanently fixed joins, but they can also work as detachable joints.  In this case I cut long tapers on the ends of the foreshafts and made a matching taper on the spruce main shafts.  I wrapped the end of the foreshafts in saran wrap, fit them in place against the matching scarf joint on the main shaft, and then wrapped around the overlapping joint with rawhide.
A dried rawhide socket (left) and the matching scarf joint on a foreshaft (right)
The foreshafts in place while the sockets dry
As the rawhide dries it hardens and bonds to the wooden main shaft while the saran wrap prevents the foreshafts from being glued in place.  The rawhide holds it's shape and creates a tough socket with an inside mold of the matching foreshaft.  I coat the outside of the rawhide with hide glue to add to it's stength.  The end product is a little like a fibre glass socket on the end of the main shaft. I'll update again with some final shots of the assembled spears when everything is dry and ready to ship.

Photo Credits: Tim Rast

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