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Around the Lab

August 6, 2018

While the field crew has been busy digging, a lot has been happening around the lab too. In addition to the usual cleaning of artefacts and placing wood artefacts in to the PEG treatment, we have caught glimpses of the wood cabinets being built by the Qanirtuuq Inc. carpenters for the Nunalleq Culture and Archaeology Center. These cabinets will house the artefacts. The carpenters have already moved one of them in to the Center and Rick has started to fill the drawers with some of the collection that arrived from Aberdeen.

The first artefact cabinet is moved in to the Center!

Rick, Anna, and Alice start filling the cabinet with artefacts that have just returned to Quinhagak from Aberdeen.

One of these drawers contains numerous stick dolls. To prevent them from rolling around and knocking in to each other, Kostja has been creating ‘beds’ for them, each one nestled in to a cavity cut in the ethafoam.

Stick dolls nestled in their bed of ethafoam.

I have also spent some time on the conservation treatment of the child’s bow made of baleen (Artefact of the Day on 13th of July), so that it will be clean, stable, and ready for display during the grand opening of the Center on the 11th of August. Baleen is quite a remarkable material. It is a flexible horn-like material made of keratin (which is what our hair and nails are made of) and grows in plates from the upper jaw of certain whale species, such as the humpback, blue, right, and sperm. Baleen can be softened in hot or boiling water in order to be worked and shaped in to an object. Think of it as an early type of plastic! The treatment of the bow began with gentle cleaning of the surface with a soft bristle brush and water to remove soil. In one section of the bow, layers of the baleen were unstable and delaminating. This area required stabilization with an adhesive. The adhesive was inserted in between the layers using a syringe.

Section of the baleen bow that is not stable and delaminating and requires consolidation.

Conserving the baleen bow.

Afterward, I placed a long weight (one I specially made from pebble-filled bags held together with cling film- sometimes you have to improvise) over the bow, so that it would apply sufficient pressure to the consolidated section and ensures the bow retains its proper shape while it slowly dries. Once the bow is dry, I will make a supportive mount for it to rest on. And now, it’s time to get the Center ready for its big day!

Francis

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Rose Pilatti permalink
    August 9, 2018 05:30

    Hello I’m coming to see it all! Arrive Aug 20 for one week I’ve been following Nunalleq since the first blog I’m very excited to see the Bering coast! Staying w friends Some prep reading is Edna Wilder’s “Once Upon An Eskimo Time”. Rose P Nikiski AK

    • August 9, 2018 05:54

      Great! Head to the culture centre, and you will see the collection

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