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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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11/5/2014 The Columbia Mammoth Tusk (Day 21)

Brought in some assistance from the Foothill Anthropology’s Osteology Club, as well as from my colleague, Dan Cearley to help with the prepping and plastering today.  Inside the cardboard box on the table, there sits the mammoth tusk just like you’ve seen in previous posts.  We are prepping to line the walls and the top (for now) surface of the tusk with tinfoil.  Creating a seal will keep the plaster from making contact with the tusk directly.

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I have anticipated this day for sooooooooooooooo long.  I never thought I’d have so many wonderful assistants to make this happen with me!

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LET’S MAKE PLASTER!!

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Sure, we had the option to wear gloves, but WHY!?  Just wait till you scroll further & realize that it just LOOKS LIKE they’re wearing gloves!

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I have a sneaking suspicion we’re going to be needing a weeee bit more than just that.  But this is a great start!

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Okay….One layer down….NEXT!…. (notice we laugh at the use of gloves now)

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I have a sneaking suspicion that this again…will still not be enough plaster….

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Sooooo…..Apparently playing in plaster brings back child-like joy.  Not a bad side-effect!

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But back to work!  (bwahahahahahaha!)

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We……are……DONE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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And there was much rejoicing….

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Ta da!  Inception meets fruition!

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Successful day!  We’ll revisit this in a week, giving it time to set.

Tools used: 12 gallons of water, 30 pounds of plaster, the assistance of 3 students, 1 lab director, 1 lab researcher (me), 1 professor (aka, “adult supervision”…cough cough cough!), the mammoth tusk in its little plaster house, LOTS of tape (painters & duct), cardboard, plastic drop cloth, plastic containers and a good sense of humor.

Time in lab was about 3 hours.

*Pssssst!!!!….Next week, WE FLIP THE MAMMOTH!

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7/16/2014 The Columbia Mammoth Tusk (Day 17)

Moving right along and making sure to continue a fast-forward into my work over these past few months, I give you the completely covered tusk with a 60/40 mixture (acetone/Paraloid)

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I have cut the plaster back on the far right side of the photo.  This allowed me better access to more of the tusk.  At the same time, I felt confident that the tusk was able to hold better with the pre-existing Paraloid compound that is already inside from a few months ago.  I can’t erase those cracks with my Paraloid, so if you’re waiting for that, I have say SORRY!  Best I can do is strengthen them by taking some of the Paraloid & use a syringe or pipette to drive it inside more.

The new 60/40 mixture seems to be doing much better!  Much fewer scary bubbles!  I’m breathing better now.  And I hope you are too.  🙂  Since I created the chemical make-up of this Paraloid, this has all been a series of experiments, where there’s always varying chances that something will work or fail.  I believe I’ll experience both in working on this.  But I just hope to do more of one than the other!!!!!

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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.

4 hours in lab

 
 

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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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2/12/2014 The Columbia Mammoth Tusk (Day 9)

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So far, it’s not looking as scary as what was happening a couple posts ago.  The Sectioning technique looks to be holding.  However, I’m not blind to the cracks & even the MEGA crack in this.  I’ll need to chat with people smarter than me.  I know there’s more toxic forms of materials that can be used as an archival bond.  We’ll work on that next time.  In the meantime, need to blow up the building today!

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 at varying percentages depending on which Section I’m in.

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I wanted to zoom in on the cracks that I”M NOT HELPING ALONG, thank you…..Not like that’s a sore topic for me or anything.  But I digress!!!

I’ve started to gingerly clean & treat Section 4 here.  Not too shabby, if I do say so myself.  This part is treated at 20% Acrysol.

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The previous sections were treated at a %10 Acrysol solution.  There are the first 2 sections that are starting to reject such a high content.

(6 hours in lab)

 
 

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2/7/2014 Visiting my mammoth

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I came in to the lab to check on things & I see my mammoth rib next to my mammoth tusk.  Awwwww, so nice of them to put my 2 projects together.  See, now you see on the right (horribly destroyed rib) what I came to table with.  I CAN DO THIS!!!

 
 

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