Tuesday, January 29, 2008

A Broken Bottle

Yesterday and this morning I've been constructing storage for one of the most fragile objects in the collection. Not only is this object fragile, it's actually broken. It's a brown glass bottle, enclosed by basketry and was probably made by an individual in the Makah tribe. Problem is, at some point in the past, the glass bottle broke. The basketry is still completely in place, but when moved you can hear the glass shards clattering into each other within the basket. (click on any of the photos below to see larger versions)

Broken Bottle

My first step was to make a box that the bottle could be isolated in. The box has ties on the sides which means that the sides drop down, making it easier to get the bottle out for research.

Broken Bottle with box

But just setting the bottle inside the box isn't going to stop it from tipping over and breaking further, so I made two Tyvek pillows. These pillows are filled with polyester quilt batting and sewn shut. The pillows are then attached to opposite sides of the box with velcro.

Broken Bottle with pillows and box

Then I closed up the box, tied the sides, and, viola!, the bottle is immobilized but it is not subject to too much undue pressure. The pillows can also compensate for any shifting that may occur within the body of the object.

Final Housing

This housing should help to mitigate further damage to the object and help to support it as well. It's a beautiful object, so I'm pleased that this box is a success.

I looked around the internet, and if you'd like to see similar basketry bottles, check out the Ethnology Collection at the Burke Museum, which is available to look at online.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008


Just a quick answer to last Friday's Whatzit, because a long weekend means a short week with as much to do as usual!

Carved Coconut Head

It's a face carved out of a coconut. The top of the head is removable and the inside is hollowed out, so it's also a container. "Aloha Hawaii" is carved on the back. I believe we have two more similar objects in the collection!

Friday, January 18, 2008


Okay folks, you know the drill. Small portion of larger object shown. What's the larger object?


No clues, but I hope you guess. I think this is a fun one.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008


Not, SPOON!, as in the battle cry of The Tick. But spoon as in a utensil used in the preparation, distribution and consumption of food.

3-266, Northwest Coast Wooden spoon

I've been making slow and steady progress through small portions of the collection. One of my projects this week was the rehousing, cataloging, and photography of a small collection of Northwest Coast wooden and horn spoons. The above is pretty typical of the wooden spoons, undecorated with a large bowl.

I should have taken a "Before" picture of storage, but I missed my chance. This is how the spoons are stored now:
Spoon Storage

I made custom cavities in 2" thick ethafoam for the smaller spoons. The larger spoons are required by space constraints to lay on their sides for the time being. They will be given custom mounts when we have moved. Some of the boxes are not permanent, thus there are some foam spacers in boxes to prevent the movement of the mounts. The boxes are custom made as well. And now the spoons are just about ready to be packed and moved, which is the ultimate goal.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

The Return of Answers

Last Friday's mystery image garnered three guesses, all of which were in the right area. Bowl, Southwest pottery, pottery jug.

This is a small Acoma bowl. We have several small Acoma pottery pieces. Acoma pottery is associated with the Acoma Pueblo in New Mexico, thought to be the longest continuously habitated place in the United States. The original collector tended to collect objects as art pieces, so we lack information regarding the age and history of this vessel.

3-113b Acoma Bowl

3-113b Acoma Bowl

Friday, January 11, 2008

The Return of Friday Whatzit

Great googly moogly! It's Friday already. Where has the week gone?

I've spent this week wrangling schedules, fighting with my email, and cataloging whistles and miniature totem poles. We're definitely getting back into the swing of things around here.

But here's the Friday Whatzit for the week. I'm continuing with the "small portion of a photo" version of our game. I'm not feeling particularly generous, so no clues this week.

1.11.2008  3-113b

So what do you think?

Tuesday, January 8, 2008


Well, like the good folks at the IMA, I've gone revolutionary. That is to say, I've signed up this museum-in-development for Flickr and joined the dozens of museums using the photo-hosting site to host photos and potentially invite community involvement.


CWU Museum's photosMore of CWU Museum's photos

At the moment, it's just an account under the name "cwumuseum", but in the future we could easily create a group or groups for special events, the museum in general, or anything we cared to. In the meantime, the images are mostly past Whatzits.