Penn Artifact Lab

Last night I was thinking about how to age and hang a piece, so I did a google search for combinations of encaustic, wool, cotton, twine, rope, encased in plaster, and hit the Penn Artifact Lab. It is a working conservation space that can be viewed by visitors with a blog component. How cool is that?

While I was in Maryland, I spent part of a day at the Smithsonian Natural History Museum. The museum has the FossiLab where you can watch folks working. The access to part of the process of conservation adds another aspect to the exhibitions.

Back to my search. I found this description–

“After prying some of the loose plaster away, I found that luckily, the plaster seen around the outside of the painting is only a thin skim coat layer, and that paper was used as a barrier layer in places between the painting and the plaster.”


I looked around a bit and found so many interesting and amazing images of artifacts. Ran across this bit on a coffin and cedar–

“Cedar is a prized wood because the trees produce chemicals that make them resistant to insect damage and various forms of rot.

I documented the appearance of the board, noting its construction details, such as four wooden pegs and mitered edges. One curious feature was thin metal ribbons running in channels along the long axis of the board.”

coffin detail

Cedar is one of my favorite materials. It is soft, easy to carve, can be yellow or pink in color, stains nicely for my purposes, and it has a great fragrance. I originally started using it when I was making Tools for Rent a series of bronze daggers.

Tools for Rent-Anzen

I was in the hardware store looking for some wood to build boxes when I was hit with the memory of opening my mother’s cedar chest. Got to thinking about the arbitrary value of an individual based on the contents of a box and how that compares to the arbitrary value placed on art. And I really like the fragrance.

Back to my search. I found this image of a bone awl. It is so clean, lovely, and elegant.

bone awl

Folks listed on the Artifact Lab blog–
Project Conservator Molly Gleeson
Senior Conservator Lynn Grant
Conservators Julia Lawson and Nina Owczarek

Penn Museum’s Egyptian Section curators
Curator Dr. David Silverman
Associate Curators Dr. Josef Wegner and Dr. Jennifer Wegner

The Artifact Lab and the Penn Museum blogs have great detailed information. I just subscribed to both.

What a Relief…

that in spite of the powers that be in Ohio trying to keep people from voting, votes were cast, and the expected outcome did not occur.

Those determined people who stood in lines for hours, made their state and this country a better place.

Every vote does count.

In President Obama’s reelection speech he stated, “I want to thank every American who participated in this election … whether you voted for the very first time or waited in line for a very long time. By the way, we have to fix that.”

Voting in SLO


Today my husband and I walked to our voting precinct, received ballots, voted, and were out the door in 5 minutes.

That is 5 minutes, not 5 hours, or 6 hours, or 8 hours that the people in Ohio had to endure to cast their vote.

I am originally from Ohio. I used to say that you can’t take the Ohio out of the girl. No more. I am embarrassed to be from that state.

I find it shameful that the United States is attempting to convert other countries to democracy, yet in our country there are factions restricting and limiting our rights.

Thank you Ohio voters for not being deterred.

Maryland 2012 and Sandy

I was in rural Maryland during Sandy.


The power went off on Monday at 12:41 pm and wasn’t restored until yesterday evening, that would be Wednesday. Not that many hours really, but it was my longest experience living without running water, heat, electricity, and of course the internet. The week prior I was often wearing shorts; during the power outage I was wearing nearly everything that I packed.

I lived briefly without power while in Ohio during storms, tornadoes, and blizzards. When I was living in the California Bay Area we lost power during my first experience with earthquakes, the Loma Prieta in 1989. What I remember the most about the earthquake was the noise. Actually the noise brought back memories of tornadoes in Ohio. Nature can be powerful and destructive.

At the time I was completing my undergrad degree and working for a group of orthopedic surgeons. I realized how fragile the human body can be when dealing with the forces of nature. In nature there is no right or wrong, no evil. It does not discriminate.

When I was going to grad school in Washington it seemed the power would go off willy nilly, so I started carrying a small flashlight at all times.

I still carry my emergency flashlight. After reading a story about folks stranded in the dark on the subway, I gave flashlights to everyone in my family.Flashlight My little flashlight helped me make my way through the dark of the house and it gave me light for reading.

The book I am reading may not have been the best choice–The Night Eternal, the third book in the series by Guillermo Del Toro and Chuck Hogan.

This was a great sight to see! So many possibilities–a cup of cocoa, a bowl of ramen, a hot shower.

Power Trucks and Crew