Monday, April 20, 2015

Alberta Spear Points

Reproduction Alberta
Projectile Point
I've returned to knapping a bit more in the workshop this week.  This afternoon I took a stab at a couple Alberta spear points for a set of plains projectile points. I'm satisfied with both of them although I only need one.  One looks better in person and one looks better in photos.  I'll see how the rest of the set turns out before I decide which (if either) will be included in the box.

Photo Credits: Tim Rast

Friday, April 17, 2015

The Pre-Dorset awl reproduction

Pre-Dorset awl reproduction (top) and artifact
(below), refit with a lance head from the same
The Pre-Dorset awl is the next finished reproduction in the Ikaahuk Archaeology Project set to check off the list.  The reproduction is made from antler and the antiquing includes tea staining, scorching and hand-carved root etching.  This is the artifact that I believe was made from an old foreshaft, so part of the check to determine the accuracy of the reproduction was to match it with the slot on the Pre-Dorset lance head.  I wanted  the spatulate end of the reproduction awl to fit the original lance head as precisely as the artifact awl.  When those two pieces fit together, I felt like I could call the piece finished.  I may continue to tweak the colour and staining over the next few days, but I think this piece is done.

Artifact (left) and reproduction (right)

Other pieces, like this harpoon head are still a couple visits away from being complete.  This one has so many complex angles and symmetries, that its hard to plan too many cuts at once.  Shaving the wrong millimetre at this point could throw off the whole piece. 

 Photo Credits: Tim Rast

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

One down, seven to go...

The offset awl from the Ikaahuk Archaeology Project set of artifact reproductions is now complete.  At this point I have to think twice about which is the artifact (top) and which is the reproduction (bottom) when I have them out on the table together.  Given that the reproduction is made from the same materials and using the same methods as the original, I think for most people it would be very difficult to tell which is the real thing and which is the copy.  The easiest way that I have to tell them apart at the moment is that the wood handle on the reproduction is a little shinier and darker than the artifact because of the oil that I applied to bring out the shine of the iron awl and to help preserve the wood.  As that oil is absorbed by the wood, even that slight difference in colour and texture should vanish.

At this point, other reproductions are a little easier to distinguish from the originals, but once the design goes on to this antler lance head and I antique it, I expect that it will be just as difficult to tell them apart.
Photo Credits: Tim Rast

Monday, April 13, 2015

Final touch-ups to the Offset Awl

I was putting the final touches on the offset awl today.  I scorched the wood a little with the blowtorch to antique the handle, applied some ochre staining where the awl meets the wood to match some rust on the original artifact and applied a bit of oil to try to match the gloss of the treated iron.  Hopefully it is a good match with the original when I compare them tomorrow.  As the pieces in this set are completed I'll have more time in my workshop to begin new projects.  I have a few projectile points from Western Canada and the Western Arctic to knap next. 
Photo Credits: Tim Rast

Friday, April 10, 2015

The end is in sight...

Offset Awl,
Reproduction above and artifact below
I'm very close to finishing the Ikaahuk artifact reproductions.  I suspect that starting with the next visit I'll be able to finish at least one of the eight reproductions every day.  The first one should be the offset awl.  The shaping is all done and I've fit the awl into the handle.  At this point I just need to scorch the handle with a flame a bit more to antique it and apply some ochre staining to really bring out the rust in a couple places.  If all goes well, it will be done by Tuesday. 

Bola, reproduction on the left
 and artifact on the right
 The bola and the ivory lure should be the next ones done after that.  They are very close to being done, but I may need a couple more visits to work out all of the final contours and to match the holes exactly.  On pieces like this I usually drill small pilot holes and then expand them to match the exact size and location of the holes on the artifact.

Ivory fishing lure, reproduction (left) and artifact (right) The pencil marks indicate the next places to cut.

The Slate ulu is coming along rapidly.  I had a different one started but it broke, so I had to begin again.  I'm building the reproduction around the large flake scar on the left side of the ulu.  When the shape is complete, I intend to stain it to better approach the dark grey or black stone that the original was made on.  The dark one on the bottom is the artifact, the lighter one on the right is a 1:1 printed pattern and the grey stone on the top is the reproduction in progress.
Photo Credits: Tim Rast

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

An Aha Moment with the Pre-Dorset Awl

Now an awl, but once a foreshaft?
Earlier this week I was working on the reproduction of the Pre-Dorset awl from the Lagoon Site for the Ikaahuk Archaeology Project and realized that it might not have always been an awl.  I think it may have started out it's life as a foreshaft that later had one end reworked into an awl point.

I feel like I've finally bonded with this collection
I was having a problem with the antler reproduction that I'm making (it started to bend) and I got to thinking "If this awl can't be salvaged, then what is the quickest way to make a new one and get it to this stage again?"  Thinking about my workshop and the tools that I have on hand, it occurred to me that a Pre-Dorset foreshaft would be the ideal blank.  It even has one flattened end, just like the original artifact.  Exactly like the original artifact, in fact. What if the person who made the original artifact had the same idea?  What if they grabbed an old foreshaft and turned it into an awl?  One way to check would be to try to refit the awl/foreshaft with a harpoon head from the same site.
The flattened end of the awl is a perfect fit in to the open socket of the Pre-Dorset harpoon head or lance head found at the same site.

Too precise of a fit to be a coincidence.  These two
artifacts seem to have been carved to fit each other.
Fortunately, there is a harpoon head (or lance head) in the collection from the same site (The Lagoon Site) and same culture (Pre-Dorset) so I could see how the awl head would fit into a contemporary socket.   I couldn't wait to get into the archaeology lab at The Rooms today to see if the two artifacts would fit together.  As you can see in the pictures, they fit perfectly. The fit is so exact that they almost snap together.  I'm confident now that the awl was once a foreshaft.  What's more, it is such a precise fit with the lance head in the collection that I think it is quite likely that they were once used together.

Now it is possible that the flattened end on the Ikaahuk awl was intentionally made to serve another purpose, like creasing leather, and that it's resemblance to a foreshaft is purely coincidental, but I don't think so. A combination awl and boot creaser would be a handy and efficient dual-purpose tool and I think the only way to make it better would be if you could make it in a few minutes using an old foreshaft that you had lying around the tent.  Re-purposing an old tool is easier than making the same thing entirely from scratch.

Photo Credits: Tim Rast

Monday, April 6, 2015

Dr. Barry Gaulton talks about Ferryland on Youtube

Dr. Barry Gaulton's Coffee and Culture talk entitled George Calvert, David Kirke, and Jim Tuck: three visionaries and their impact on Ferryland, Newfoundland is now on the Newfoundland and Labrador Archaeological Society's YouTube channel.  Thanks to The Rooms for hosting this talk.  You can watch it here.

Photo Credit: Screen Capture from NLAS Arch Youtube Channel

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