Thursday, 18 July 2013

Blog Summer Hiatus!

I'm in the sprint to the finish line - I will be away for some work stuff, and then I will have a nice little summer break, so (as usual before a break) the chunk of things on my to-do list to actually do before I don't do stuff for a while has grown to a frightening size. And it's deadlined stuff, too, nothing that can wait until I come back.

This is partly because it's just what happens, and partly because while I did some semi-careful planning, some things have been shifted about on short notice, and some things were delayed in the different phases of planning before now, so my available time for doing things before not doing things for a while... has actually shrunk.

Which means that I am going to nix my plans of blogging for you until right before my actual break, and maybe even writing and scheduling a few blogposts to make the blog hiatus a little shorter. I will do exactly the contrary: I'll call the hiatus in early, starting now. Sorry - but I'm sure you will have important summer things to do, too, and won't even miss me much.

The blog will be back to its regular schedule of posts on August 14. Until then, I wish you a wonderful summer with just the right amounts and the right timing of sun, rain, breeze, coffee, cake, ice cream and lakes or rivers for bathing and frolicking!

Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Experimental stuff - it keeps you on your toes.

One of the things I love about archaeology, and especially experimental archaeology, is how it keeps you on your toes and gets you to suddenly learn stuff about things you never tended to think about before.

As in - did you know that beeswax actually starts to melt at around 40°C, not the 60+ that are usually stated as its melting point? And that the temperature depends not only on the species of the bees and maybe their location, but also on who made the wax and how old it is? I learned about that yesterday. I was not as successful in finding out the melting point of natural pinus pinea resin, though (if you should have a helpful hint, I'd love to have it).

Today, I am trying to find out about the temperatures used in traditional batik techniques. Looks like they dye above the onset of melting of beeswax... and tomorrow, if everything goes according to plan, I will finish the thinking and planning and write down a plan to follow for the actual testing. There's a few sticky points still to solve - how to get the mixture out of the cloth again, how to make sure that everything is dyed at the same temperature but with no bad side effects from stuff touching, how to ensure an uniform temperature for the mixture application, and some more pesky details like that.

And now... on to more hunting of .pdfs, and finding out about melting points and possible sources and temperatures and processes. 

(For those of you who have not guessed it yet: It's all about the resist dye technique test runs at the Textile Forum.)

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

The Creepy Guy Narrative.

Yes, I know, that title does not sound too much like the more positive blogpost that I promised you yesterday - and it will not be much of a standalone blogpost, it's more the wrapping for a link.

The guy who told the story behind this link is Chris Brecheen, and he's a writer. And a blogger, obviously. The story itself is about an all-too-common occurrence - woman on public transport getting hit on by a man - but turns all non-common. Go read it, you won't regret it. At least it totally made my day.

Monday, 15 July 2013

German podcast and bad news.

Someone is leaning a ladder to our house, right in front of the front door. Probably to check the roof - and I confess it's a little distracting. (I'm sitting very close to the front door when I'm at my workplace, both the normal one and the summer-workplace in the winter garden.)

Speaking of distraction - there is an archaeological podcast in the internet (in German). It's called "angegraben" and looks quite nice. I have not managed to sit down and listen to it yet... but it's on my list of things to do.

Another thing in German: In Erlangen, the classical archaeologists have a slight problem. With buildings... their own building, to be precise, as it's coming down on top of their heads. For those of you not reading German: the article has pics.

While I'm helping spread the bad news, here's an article about the sellout of the Stralsund archives, in English (with links, many of them to German texts). And that's it for today - more positive stuff tomorrow!

Friday, 12 July 2013

The dyeing experiment is getting an add-on.

As you might know, the Textile Forum is a very experiment-friendly place. Last year, we had a little dyeing experiment looking at the influences of different metal kettles (simulated by metal plates in neutral pots) on dyeing, inspired by the question why the Romans in Pompeii had lead dye vats. (You can see pictures of the experiment, the dyed samples, and a poster of the preliminary results on the Forum's archive page, here.)

The experiment is now getting an add-on - a second test run, only with birch leaves as dye (due to time restrictions), but with the metal additions split between the mordanting only and the dyeing only. If all goes according to plan, it will be possible to see if there is more influence from the metal in the mordanting process or the dyeing process.

I have been preparing for this quite a bit already - the alum is ordered, the 80 m skeins are wound and tied off so they won't go knotty, and today will see my finishing off the outline and experiment plan. It takes a while to go through all this and type out, bit by bit and step for step, what is to do. But yay for a detailed plan like that - it's so helpful to have a sheet with the single steps all written out, and tables to put the measured values. Also helps a lot in making sure you don't forget to take a measurement, or a photograph.

And week after next will see the actual run of the experiment. I'm really looking forward to this!

Thursday, 11 July 2013

Things I learned in the last weeks.

Thing I learned in the last weeks: Our little cat seems to have interesting things to do outside, and possibly some territorial/territory time-sharing related issues. At least she spends a lot of time outside, sometimes including the night, and can be too busy to eat even if she declared enormous hunger just minutes ago.

Also, cortisone really (and quite strongly) changes fur colour in cats, giving the fur a reddish tinge. When we adopted her, she had dark fur all over. After getting first a depot shot, and later cortisone pills, the fur on her shoulders and upper back turned really reddish - like a sort of saddle. Now that she's on inhaled meds, it has re-darkened almost completely. Instead, she now has reddish spots at the front paws, where she licks her paws to wash. I had read about this, but it's really fascinating to see for oneself.

I have also found out that it is a bad idea to only have one contact possibility for a given person, at least if it may become crucial to contact that person within a given timespan. This is linked to email etiquette, the very basic level: If the only contact information you hand out to somebody is your email address, you should make sure that a) that person's emails will reach you, b) actually read your email, and c) answer it.

In cases of unpleasantness springing from such problems, even a combination of liberally applied chocolate, coffee and tea (the go-to methods for alleviating life's little itches and pains, at least here)  will not help much. Or, after a certain while, at all.

If you are going for the chocolate therapy, here's a chocolate you might want to try out: Die Gute Schokolade. This is chocolate which has been produced under fair trade standards, and trees were planted to make its production, packaging and transport carbon neutral. Behind this thing is a children's initiative called Plant-for-the-Planet. It's a light milk chocolate, and I really like it. Plus it's absolutely affordable for a fair trade chocolate, and comes without the bad conscience that much of the other choc has attached to it. If you are in Germany, give it a try!

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Conferences and Calls for Papers.

There are a few conferences coming up:

First of all, the NATCC (North American Textile Conservation Conference) will take place from November 12-15, 2013, in San Francisco. More info on their website.

The next Costume Colloquium will take place in Florence, November 20-23 2014, and focus on colour as a topic - the official name is "Costume Colloquium IV, Colors in Fashion". It says in their Call for Papers:

The event is based on an international, interdisciplinary and intercultural format meant to spark a lively and informative dialogue among speakers and participants from a variety of backgrounds, professions and points of view. The three day event will not only feature an impressive selection of high profile presenters, but also all inclusive behind-the-scenes visits and excursions to exclusive places and sites pertinent to the interests of all who attend.
They are looking for papers from all kinds of backgrounds,  and the CfP is open until August 22 2013. Technically, there is a website, but there is no info whatsoever there apart from three rather unrelated links; so if you are interested, it's probably best to contact info(at) directly.

The international digital heritage congress will take place from October 28 to November 1, 2013, in Marseille, France. More info, as usual and expected, on their website.

And finally, don't forget about the European Textile Forum - we still have some very few spaces left!

Tuesday, 9 July 2013

Random bits and bobs.

Yesterday's post was the 945th post in this blog, can you believe it? I am already waiting for the day I totally miss posting for the one thousandth time, just like I usually miss my blogiversary. (That's on December 8, by the way.)

Today is the day I finally managed to carry my computer, my coffee and myself into the wintergarden for the morning, when it's still nice and cool and I can enjoy lots of fresh air. And fiddle with where I am seated in order to get wlan stable enough to actually do work. Guess what? Today is also the day some company is doing construction-esque work in the neighbourhood... right outside our garden. With noises.

Tomorrow is Wednesday. That's not Friday, by a long while. (Yes, that was really random, and not very informative - you all knew that anyway. But it makes such a nice sequence with the two previous bits.)

And now for something completely different: Here's an article about weird languages. Well, if you had asked me, I'd have said that every language is weird in its own way... but it looks like there's a definition that gets you weird and not-really-weird ones.

Speaking of weird, a while ago I posted about the WEIRD bias in social studies; someone kindly sent me a follow-up graphic that you can find here.

That's today's random bits and bobs!

Monday, 8 July 2013

The little tent... needs some loving care.

A bit more than three years ago, I made myself a new tent for the market stall - with a little help from my friends, and with a good dollop more mishaps and related adrenaline highs than I had planned for. The tent, dubbed "the TGV", has served me very well, and I totally love it. But these days, it's in need of a little loving care, and a bit of tweaking. (In case you missed that story: the tag "the tent-making saga" lets you read all about it.)

This is the newly finished TGV - the cloth in the apses goes straight to the ground, as it should.

Since the tent was made in a pattern that was cut a little, uh, alternatively, it has stretched differently than a normal tent in that form would have done. Especially in the apses, the stretching of the fabric has led to a curious form of sagging where the tent can still be set up with some tension on the lines, but the bottom part of the cloth lies right on the ground. That effectively shrinks the floor space in the two apses.

See how the feet have sagged? It's even worse these days.
Now, most people would be able to deal with a little bit of shrinkage. The TGV, however, is... small. And when I go to an event by myself, I have all my clothes, my two little chests, my firewood and other fire stuff, the box with odds and ends, my wares, my sales table, and my decoration stuff in there. Oh, and my bed. Or what I call my bed.

The bed is just large enough for me to sleep in, and it just (really just) fits in one apse. Or I should say it used to fit - I can still squeeze it in, but then part of the tent cloth is already touching the bed. That's no problem... unless it rains. Oh, and one of the tent poles is so close to the bed that I am always a little afraid I will one day roll over in a bad dream and just kick out that pole, and with it all the tent would go down on top of me.

From opening up the front, the front flap has also stretched quite a bit, but that is not as incommodating as the apse shrinking. So last Friday, our garden has seen the tent go up, the tent received some pencil markings for the new location of the peg loops on the apses, and the ridge pole has a new hole - set a bit inwards from the end, giving me more sleeping and moving space in the apse. Now I only need to move the peg loops to their new place, and the tent will be fine for the next few years of service. And I'm really looking forward to having just enough sleeping space again instead of just not enough!

Friday, 5 July 2013

New stuff.

As of yesterday evening, I am the (middling) proud owner of a (mediocre, but functioning) model of a warp-weighted loom.
Well, to be honest, it's not completely finished yet - I need to fiddle with the position of the heddle rod brackets a bit more before fixing them.

It was made out of scrap wood that was hanging out in our basement plus two Y-shaped pieces of hazel wood, straight in from the garden. It's even set up already, and I have woven the first few wefts.

As you can see, the starting border is totally out of dimension in comparison to the huge loom size (about 30 cm width), as is the rest of the weave. That is the problem with models regarding textile - it's very hard or impossible to scale down the actual textiles, and that changes the overall look of both production models and garment models. In case you ever wondered why a small doll dressed up to model a set of garments looked ever so subtly wrong, that is probably the reason: if you don't scale down the fabric itself, the drapes and folds will be too large and too stiff.

In my case, however, that is irrelevant - I only want the small model to take along for workshops and seminars, to be able to explain the basics behind weaving and warp-weighted weaving. So scale, in this case, is not the issue.

(The starting border and weave is that narrow for a reason, by the way - not only because I wanted to save time in setting up the loom. It's the start of a form-woven tunic. I do not expect the piece to ever see the day of actually getting the body of the tunic added in... but it could happen. Theoretically. One day.)

Thursday, 4 July 2013

Some archaeology links (including Star Trek and Playmobil)

If you are one of the folks who read German, here's some archaeology stuff for you to check out. If you don't read German, there's pics in the first and third link - don't miss the Playmobil Burial of Hochdorf!

An old tunic has thawed free - how can I have missed the Lendbreen tunic, since this article came out in March already?

On Minuseinsebene, there's a blog entry about Star Trek and Archaeology.

In Konstanz, there's a tradition of having archaeology meet playmobil - the currently running exhibition is "Playmobil and the Celts", running until September 15. If you're too far away for a visit, follow the links. There's pictures that are too cool for words. Click the link already.

And never forget Rainer Schreg's blog Archaeologik, where the latest post is about the destruction of part of a pyramid in Peru (most of the links there are to English texts).

Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Cats, The Secret Life of.

If you are part of a cat's staff (someone needs a can opener, after all), chances are you will have wondered what your furry friend is up to when outside, and what adventures he or she has. Or how far the territory stretches out.

There has been a recent study made with 50 domestic cats, tracked over several 24h-periods, to reveal the secret life of the common house cat. You can get a first impression of the feline roaming and adventures via the BBC and a little bit more about the background here.

Our cat, by the way, is currently sleeping in a cat bed less than a metre away from me - so I know exactly what she's up to: her post-breakfast nap, which usually lasts until about 5 pm. Then she has important cat stuff to do outside before returning at about 7 for dinner. Such a hard life a cat has!

Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Who knew those ancient guys are hipsters?

There has been a project recently dressing up ancient statues in modern garments. A photographer and a photo retoucher took some liberties with statues of classical guys and gals, dressing them up (including sunglasses, you're never too old to be cool) and documenting their total kickass modern hipsterness.

It's too cool for words. Go have a look at Léo Caillard's site (that's the photographer), where you can see all the hipstery goodness yourself.

Edit: As Panth rightly comments, the statues were not physically dressed up - it was a photo and photo retouching/shopping action (my wording was a bit ambiguous).

Monday, 1 July 2013

It's July already!

You wouldn't have thought it was summer on the Saturday - all the day was very grey, dull, and rainy. Sunday, fortunately, was much better and made the weekend a very nice one over all.

It's still obvious, though, that every plant this year (at least every outdoor plant) is about one month later than normal. We still do not have any tomatoes worth mentioning - the small fruits already hanging on the plants are still very green and far from being ripe. But I do hope that we'll be able to eat some before the end of this month!

The hairnet is coming along nicely as well, but will need a few hours' more work before it is finished. Even if work goes very smoothly and each single knot only takes a few seconds to make - such a net has a lot of knots, and thus eats up work time and thread like crazy. And today, there is a bunch of other stuff on my list of things to do, so I will probably not get around to much netting. (Among the things on the list are small repair jobs for the market and fair equipment - a missing peg, a torn-off band, and some stuff to check and put away into its correct place.)