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11/19/2014 The Columbia Mammoth Tusk (Day 23)

Did someone say, MAMMOTH!?  Oh wait, that’s just me…ok, so maybe YOU too.  🙂

Even though I tend to work for HOURS on end in the lab, being all science-ee, I know that my successes are only in leaps & bounds from my perspective.  Sure, I know you’d hope as an archaeologist, I’d dig up a mammoth, find a lost city and discover the fountain of youth all in one week.  Sounds awesome to me too.  But in my REALISTIC life, things move a little slower…okay, so A LOT slower.  But you’re here to see updates & that’s what I’ve got for you!

Yes, it still looks painful, I know.  Imagine how I feel?!

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What I’ve worked on here looks a lot like the previous update, I know.  But if you’re super meticulous (like me), then you’ll see that we’ve cleaned the tusk a little bit more.  Cleaning it always is a bit of a crap shoot.  I’m stuck in the wonder of…Will it fall apart if I clean this more, or Will this look super awesome?!  It’s never an easy guessing game.  And truth be told, after today’s cleaning, it did a little of both.  But I’ll let you be the judge.  I’ll soon be using the Paraloid on this so as to freeze all the loose pieces into place.

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See how the tusk looks like rings of a tree?  In the same fashion, that’s how you can tell how old a mammoth is.  This tusk isn’t nearly so easy to read from this vantage point or the degradation.  But I can tell you that this was a juvenile, since the tusk’s circumference is smaller than all the mature mammoths I’ve studied.

Oh, btw, my favorite part about the photo below is that when I walked into the lab, SOME IDIOT WAS TOUCHING THE SANDBAGS!!!!  Of course I jumped all over him.  (Scared him a little too…that was funny!)  😉  I plan on putting this tusk in a flat housing that will contain all the mammoth dirt and tusk flakes that fall away.  The plastic drop cloth was good for when we were plastering, but it’s gotta go!  I will say that just to scootch the tusk around the table is a major event in its self since it is SOOOO heavy now.  I gauge about 80 pounds.  Once I was able to carry it across both arms.  Now?…Errrm….Not so much!

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I’m taking off for Thanksgiving, so I won’t be working on this until next week.  Forgive me?…

Again, I don’t want to expose much of this to the air without treating it more.  I use acrysol at 10% just like last week.

Tools used: 10% acrysol, sandbags, the cleaning solution of 50% alcohol & 50% distilled water, synthetic brushes, metal tools, wooden tools, 5cm arrow for size reference, and aspirator.

Time spent in the lab was about 4 hours.

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11/13/2014 The Columbia Mammoth Tusk (Day 22)

This is the day!  The day it finally happens!  We’re flipping the mammoth!!!

Flipping The Mammoth Photo

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I worked on the unknown and had no idea what I would find.  I knew that there was the plastic barrier that existed on (what is now) the bottom.  But what the tusk looked like remained a mystery.  I was able to observe the surface through the plastic, to an extent.  I quickly noticed an area that would need swift attention…

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I prepare you for a partial unveiling since it’s not pretty…


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Okay, okay….THIS is where I’m starting.  I don’t want to expose much of this to air without treating  So, I use acrysol at 10% and this percentage seems to work.  I will be back in a week’s time, where I hope to assess my plan of attack.  Stay tuned!

Tools used: 10% acrysol, sandbags, the cleaning solution of 50% alcohol & 50% distilled water, synthetic brushes, metal tools, wooden tools, 5cm arrow for size reference, and aspirator.

Time spent in the lab was about 3 hours.

 
 

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4/11/2014 The Columbia Mammoth Tusk (Day 15)

Looks familiar & all right?…Just a little shinier?…

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But upon closer examination…WHAT ARE THESE BUBBLES DOING HERE???!!!  PLASTIC BUBBLES EVERYWHERE!  Okay, don’t panic…Let’s analyze this.  After all, you’re a scientist, Kanya!

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Okay, so now that I’m breathing a little easier…I analyze more of it….And remember in the last post when I said I got impatient and used Paraloid shortly after using Acrysol?….Yeah…..Well, that’s what that bubbly-milky-looking material is.  Not the end of the world, I know.  Just definitely not the visually-desired results.

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SILVER LINING:

The Paraloid material is solidly holding the tusk!!

TROUBLE SHOOTING:

I’ve gone in with a natural hair brush & applied thin layers of acetone to thin out the Paraloid mixture I created in my first experiment with the percentages.  In theory, since the Paraloid is a mixture of acetone that was meant to be used as a liquification factor for the Paraloid beads, I figured it just made sense to be able to use the acetone to thin out the bubbles that were all over the tusk.  So far, so good!

Tools used: glass pipettes, acetone, Paraloid B-72, mason jars, cheesecloth, respirator, gloves, goggles, sandbags, 5cm arrow for size reference, natural brushes.

4 hours in the lab today.

 
 

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4/10/2014 The Columbia Mammoth Tusk (Day 14)

Yup, playing catch-up for a bit requires constant posts.  But then again, I want all of you to see where we’re going with this project.  How else can I push my mammoth-quest on you!?

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Okay, so let’s analyze the Paraloid B-72 (from now will just be  “Paraloid”…Sure I could have named it “Bob”, but what if some guy named Bob would be reading this?….I think that would make Bob uncomfortable.  So let’s leave Bob alone & stop pestering him!)

All is melted just as my research said would happen.  And yes, the fumes DO burn my eyes when I open the mason jars without my goggles on…LAST TIME I do that!  The fumes are so toxic that I can’t take my respirator or goggles off till after I’ve closed the containers and have left the room.

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I learned to NOT use the Paraloid (left) shortly after the Acrysol (right).  Nothing lab-blowing-up-able, but the two did not mix well…and I wasn’t even trying to mix it.  I was honestly just impatient in wanting to use the Paraloid, but in the same day I was also using the acrysol on the last exposed part of the mammoth tusk.

Lesson learned: DON’T RUSH THINGS!  (thanks mom)

Rushing things made unexpected things happen.  I didn’t know what else to do to “make it better” after two pieces of science mixed, so I thought it best to leave & examine what kind of wonders or damages I created the next day.  Stay tuned!

Tools used: glass pipettes, acetone, Paraloid B-72, mason jars, cheesecloth, respirator, gloves, goggles, sandbags, 5cm arrow for size reference. Continued using the cleaning solution of 50% alcohol & 50% distilled water (on the last part that I was still cleaning & acrysol-ing). Tools used to clean the ivory tusk are synthetic brushes, metal tools, wooden tools, aspirator and acrysol of varying percentages.

All told, I was in the lab for about 6 hours

 
 

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4/8/14 The Columbia Mammoth Tusk (Day 12)

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Late posting, I know!  I need to play catch-up so that you can follow along in my adventure!

Working on the cleaning of the mammoth tusk, but also I’m working on creating an archival glue that will be strong and yet not degrade the tusk in the meantime.  Never thought I’d be creating liquid plastic!  But I digress.

Cleaned the mammoth tusk on the proximal end (that’s the far right end of the tusk in the photo).  There’s a lot of cracking going on, which is why I hadn’t cut that back. the plaster on that end very much.  But SOON!

Used 5cm arrow for size reference. Continued using the cleaning solution of 50% alcohol & 50% distilled water. Tools used to clean the ivory tusk are synthetic brushes, metal tools, wooden tools, aspirator and acrysol of varying percentages.

Spent 6 hours in the lab since a bunch of that was exploring this liquid plastic that will be in my next post!

*Teaser note: I did NOT blow anything up…(knock on wood)*

 
 

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I’m a Featured Speaker, April 12th at Santa Clara University’s Research Conference!!!!

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41st Annual Western Departments of Sociology and Anthropology Undergraduate Research Conference

Presenting my curation work on the mammoth tusk I’ve been working on since last year!!!  Very excited about this!!  Sure, you could replace the word, “excited” & insert the word, “nervous”….Either way, I’m feeling awesome!

 

CONFERENCE SCHEDULE:  (psssst….I’m in Session IX)

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3/17/2014 The Columbia Mammoth Tusk (Day 11)

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This tusk has been through a lot.  I’m happy with where we are considering where we were not too long ago.  Did you see the drama?  It was scary!  I think we’re in a good place now though, especially with new techniques in play.

Used 5cm arrow for size reference. Continued using the cleaning solution of 50% alcohol & 50% distilled water. Tools used to clean the ivory tusk are synthetic brushes, metal tools, wooden tools, aspirator and acrysol of varying percentages.

Sections & their percentage of Acrysol used:

Section 1 – 4: 5% Acrysol

Section 5 & 6 : 10% Acrysol

Section 7: 5% Acrysol

NEW Section 8 has been cleaned!: 10% Acrysol

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Thought I’d give you another perspective on what the scale of CRAZY is that I’m working with.  I can’t see the whole thing all the time, so often I pray that what I’m doing on one side isn’t going to horribly effect the other.

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Remember these in the box in the previous post?…Sure, I wouldn’t be holding these with my bare hands if it was something that I was truly trying to preserve.  No worries!  I wear gloves all the time.  But I had to touch these piece of ivory that we tested this new archival bonding agent on.  So far, so good.

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Ever wonder what’s in my magic bag when I’m in the lab?…….

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Ta Da!!!

 

(7 hours in lab)

 
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Posted by on 03/21/2014 in Mammoth, Tusk

 

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