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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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9/29/2014 The Columbia Mammoth Tusk (Day 19)

Still playing catch-up in my posts, but we’re almost there!

I’m flattered as I walk into the lab & I see this!!!  That’s my stuff!  That’s my work!  That’s my…….wow.  I’m a little beside myself, it’s so awesome.

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I marveled at this for a while, but I had to get back to the tusk!!  The other fractured monstrosity under glass on the right is the mammoth rib that I worked on for a couple years.  That was a nightmare, but it gave me learning tools to get to where I am today on the tusk.

Since I am still cutting plaster back, I am once again using the acrysol/water solution as my water-based preservative since I can clean & preserve at the same time…with others in the room as well.  Since acrysol is a water-based archival element, it doesn’t have the same toxic chemicals that the Paraloid mix does.

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I’ll get back to the Paraloid, I swear!  Just not quite yet.

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I have started to seal the cracks and open spaces where there’s missing pieces.  It’s painful for me to see, but it’s something that kinda comes with the territory of working on something about 20-thousand years old!  Let’s see how you look!  😉

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Tools used: glass pipettes, acetone, Paraloid B-72, mason jars, cheesecloth, respirator, gloves, goggles, sandbags, 5cm arrow for size reference, natural brushes, plastic bags.  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.  Hmmm…I suppose the heavy duty shears I use to cut back the plaster are tools too.  :p

7 hours in lab

 
 

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7/21/2014 The Columbia Mammoth (Day 18)

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This may not look like a lot of work to you, but I had blisters after cutting the plaster back.  Took me a long time.  PHEW!  And in case you think this looks a little different than last time, you’d be right.  I turned this around so that I can work on it better.

Cutting the plaster back means I had to clean & treat the surface.  I still use 50/50 alcohol/water to clean the tusk in the newly exposed sections.  Since I’m not comfortable in using the Paraloid completely yet, I still use acrysol to do the initial preserving.  I’ll come back & put the Paraloid on next time.

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Taking a look at this from a different perspective also allows me to see what’s been going on with this tusk that I may not have noticed from the other side.  As I’ve cut back plaster, I see that there are cracks I didn’t know about.  And there are small surface pieces missing as well.  I’ll soon be at a place where I’m flipping this over.  And when I get to that point, I can only imagine what’s been going on the opposite side of this tusk after all these years.

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

8 hours in lab

 
 

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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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12/4/2013 The Columbia Mammoth Tusk (Day 7)

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I’d like to make note that it’s been a week since the crisis that existed in Day 6’s photos & so far, so good!

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 & acrysol.

Used 15% acrysol solution in Section 1 (not absorbing well), in Section 2 & in the cracks between the two sections.  Also, started cleaning what I will call, “Section 3” (again, orginal, I know!) where I started off at the ready with the 15%.  Though, I treated only the pre-existing cracks as a preventative & not because they were a new issue.

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I’m choosing to walk away before I cause any damage.  The acrysol is in & it’s a waiting game now.  I can’t watch it to go any faster.  I’ll call it a day.

(3 hours in lab)

 

 
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Posted by on 03/21/2014 in Mammoth

 

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