Monday, December 26, 2011

Applied Archaeology

First let me say that the Christmas season has had me too busy to blog.

However I did the repair work in my spare time and photographed the steps as usual as the work went along.

I have seldom done super glue crockery repair on so broken a piece, but I approach with a fearless good old times scientific attitude.

The only tool needed for the assembly tricks is an erasable marker pen. Clamping is hand pressure for ten seconds.

I protect the work surface with a small piece of plywood to take any spills of and provide a better contrast for the photography.

Here I am stuck between a crock and a hard place.

Problems to the left of me and problems to the right of me.

Let me explain.

Crockery does not bend, nor can it be carved, stretched or otherwise fooled with as if it were metal or wood.

Take a look at the gaps in the crockery where the next piece would have to go if I had started glueing it together just anywhere like in a jigsaw puzzle.  The problem will be to do the jigsaw puzzle trick first to determine which pieces go where, then plan an assembly sequence that makes sure there is a way to insert the next pieces where the next piece does not have to slide into a narrow space, or fit into a space more closed at the entry point.

First I sort of assembled the whole thing dry and marked where the various parts met so I could make a swift positioning after the glue was applied.

This shot shows the first actual glued bit. Notice that the angles where the next bits have to arrive are wide and allow easy insertion.

To the right you see the most difficult sequence laid out ready to be attached.

Its an awkward set of small pieces that were at the point of impact I suppose and took the most energy.

Their unique shapes overlap in a way to make the assembly critical. Take a look at the assembly before it is installed on the crock.

The big bit with the handle can go on next but never before because of the way the top rim has to be assembled. There is quite a wide oblique surface that meets on the inside of the crock and it must have the meeting pieces already in place before it can go on.

After gluing the five pieces to the right, I went away for a few hours to let the glue set up thoroughly.

As a note, take a look at the inside. If I were serious about making the crock strong enough to use as, say, a planter, I would reinforce it from the inside.

There are plenty of ways to reinforce the inside of an opaque object.

I have some kevlar cloth and even some carbon fibre I could paste to the inside using epoxy.

Cheaper would be epoxy and canvas or fibreglass from an automotive body repair kit.

Even a coat of varnish under and over some cloth would make a big improvement, and all these would make the crock hold water again although it would not be suitable for cooking or maybe not even plant roots depending on your choices.

So there we have it with all the bits back together and it is still missing a few parts that were missed by the broom.

It gives me an appreciation of the archaeologists who sift through the midden of some thousands of years old village to put together examples of long disappeared pot designs.

This one is not rare enough for a museum to do that sort of thing to but has been a fun time to see what can be done in a small scale exercise of the real thing.

What am I going to do with it?

First its going to be a piggy bank and collect loose change. When its full it will be more valuable.

As a planter it might be interesting to use the tiny hole you can see below as a place where a baby plant can escape to contrast with the big one in the top.

Maybe I'll bury it deep in the park on Mount Royal filled with two quarts of carefully selected odd stuff to puzzle archaeologists of the distant future.

Unfortunately the good side is not the side with the crown, but such is life.

You can't fix it if it ain't broke, and if the fix ain't perfect, well it was broke anyway.

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