Friday, November 30, 2018

Stocking The Rooms in time for Christmas!

I'm just back from dropping off a big Christmas restocking order for The Rooms Gift Shop here in St. John's.  The order included a few flintknapping kits and a selection of handmade reproductions of Dorset, Groswater, and Beothuk endblades and arrowheads.  Everything is made from Newfoundland chert and the knapped stone tools have been mounted as necklaces, earrings, lapel pins, and tie tacs.  For this Christmas season, The Rooms gift shop currently has the best selection of Elfshot jewelry available.  

Groswater lapel pins and Dorset earrings.

Beothuk necklaces and earrings.

Groswater earrings.
Photo Credits: Tim Rast

Thursday, November 29, 2018

PalaeoIndian Reproductions

A foreshaft assembly with a
Folsom point based on
a theoretical reconstruction
I'm still around.  Although you might not realize that if you follow this blog.  I've been plugging away in the studio on reproductions throughout the year and travelling a lot for work.  Some of the projects I've worked on have embargoes on them until exhibits are opened or programs aired, which has given me an excuse to be extra lazy on this blog.  I'll try to use the end of the year as an incentive to document some of the projects that I've participated in during 2018.  

Here is a look at some pieces that are fresh out the door.  These are for a museum exhibit in the US and represent PalaeoIndian artifacts.  The reproductions include a fluted Folsom point made from chert, hafted in an antler foreshaft that fits into an antler socket which is glued and lashed to a wooden mainshaft.  The mainshaft is cut short for dispaly purposes.  Three bone needles, sinew, and a bone thimble (based on an Inuit design) make up part of a sewing kit.

A progress shot of the stone point, antler foreshaft and antler socket pieces.  The most important piece for the museum was the foreshaft, so I tried to match that as exactly as possible to the reference drawing.  The stone point came out a few millimetres larger than the reference point.  I find fluted points very difficult to make and this was my fourth attempt at this spear point and I didn't dare try to work it any more after both flutes came off reasonably well.   The socket needed to be a bit longer than the drawing for functional reasons, but overall the final assembly was within a couple centimetres of the illustration.

Bone needles and thimble.  The bone needles are based on PalaeoIndian artifacts and are made on long bones.  The thimble is based on Inuit thimbles in the Canadian Museum of History Collection.  
The complete set included some sinew thread to go along with the needles in the sewing kit.  All of the pieces are antiqued and the spear shaft was cut short because the storyline of the display focuses on the foreshaft assembly.

The museum requested that the sinew lashing be left off of the spear point and foreshaft.  Fortunately, the flutes on the Folsom point allow the spear point to be gripped fairly snugly by the foreshaft even without lashing or glues.  I don't think I'd trust it for hunting, but in a display and normal handling it is a good, secure fit.
Photo Credits: Tim Rast

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Repairs for The Rooms

Earlier this winter I completed a few repairs and replacement pieces of toys and games used in programming at The Rooms.  These pieces included replacement counting sticks and dice for waltes games, new artificial sinew and antler sticks for pin and cup games, and new artificial sinew on 22 rawhide buzzers.  

Wooden waltes discs with ink designs and wood counting sticks with lightly ochre stained ends.  These were replacement pieces from existing sets with missing pieces.  I didn't make the original sets, but I worked from photos and reference pieces to match the intact pieces.

Antler pin and cup games with artificial sinew cords.  The previous antler sticks were broken or lost.

Rawhide buzzers.  I replaced the worn artificial sinew and added the wood sticks to make them easier to pull.

The rawhide is very hard wearing and durable.  I made these quite a few years ago for The Rooms and even though the old cord wore out there is no wear on the discs.
Photo Credits: Tim Rast

Friday, January 12, 2018

Bone and Antler Games for the Canadian Museum of History

These Bilboquets or pin and cup games are on their way to join the Canadian Museum of History's travelling Kids Celebrate exhibition.  The pins are all antler and the cups are either long bone sections or caribou antler with the porous interior scraped hollow.
Photo Credit: Tim Rast

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Beothuk Gaming Pieces

Beothuk game piece reproductions
Late last year, I worked on a set of bone Beothuk Game Piece reproductions.  They were a birthday present ordered by a friend for her archaeologist husband.  I made 13 pieces in total and we selected seven of the nicest pieces to make the gift set.   This old blog post discusses some of the primary sources and interpretations of how the game pieces may have been used.  The pieces are carved in bone (I primarily use caribou long bones) and decorated with incised lines on one side.  They are covered in red ochre.

Thirteen finished game piece replicas
Like anything, the more time you spend with a project, the more detail that begins to emerge.  All of the known game pieces are either diamond shaped, rectangular, or irregular.  A complete set seems to have been composed of three diamond, three rectangular, and one irregular piece. There also seems to be a different approach to the thickness of the different game pieces.  The irregular and diamond shaped pieces are quite thin and flat, and often have a slight curve to them, probably from the shape of the bone they are made from.  The rectangular pieces are much thicker and blockier.  They aren't cubes like a six-sided die, but they are not simple flat tiles like the diamond shaped pieces either.  I tried to reflect this difference in the reproductions.

Carving the designs is a multi-stage process.  The final designs are quite complex, so I don't carve them all at once.  I begin with the borders and longest lines first and then add progressively more detail in additional carving sessions.  You can see my pencil marks on the blanks in this photo.  The reproductions are sitting on a sheet of paper that is printed with the original artifacts that I used for reference.

This is the final set of game pieces for my friend's birthday.  It has three diamond shaped pieces, three rectangular pieces and one irregular piece.  I'm especially happy with how the ochre took to the bone - they really capture the look and feel of the original artifacts.  
Photo Credits: Tim Rast

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