I just came off a fairly disappointing dig in the field where the group of us pretty much got skunked. It would appear our grand bench we created and extended so well this season has been tapped out. It was tough work, and several visits, but I think we extracted some real gems there this year, so I'm not too sad. But between that, my own nearby honey hole tapped out as well, and a quarry that is now shuttered to collectors, the trend moves steadily toward collecting sites going the way of the extinct arthropods I collect. That doesn't leave many local options, and so more trips to the US become an inconvenient necessity.
But apart from the doom and gloom of all that, a few items of note on the home front.
I haven't really taken pencil to paper in about 20 years, so sketching feels as natural to my hand as trying to sew a button with my toes. This was a 15 minute sketch of Asaphus punctatus using a 9B pencil. I can see where I goofed, but to be fair I am out of practice. Perhaps this is something I should take up again? I gave it up long ago with the advent of art-making software that seems to have rendered obsolete the old hand/pencil/paper triad.
What is this strange box sitting on top of my prep bench? That is a much-needed blast box so that I'm not filling the air (and our lungs!) with dolomite powder when using my air abrader. I needed a blast chamber with a flat top, not on an angle, but stores like Canadian Tire and Princess Auto only sold the latter type. I got in touch with my collecting comrade Malcolm who custom made this box using his ingenuity and an affordable array of parts. Using a double-sided press-board, getting the cuts just right, using weather-stripper and latches on the side to secure the top, adding picture glass (you never use plastic as it will scratch and fog), and sealing in an attachment for a shop vac to create negative pressure, this box is ready for some serious work. I'm going to need a sectional on the right for some of my other tools etc., but I've already connected my air tools that are now sitting ready in the box.
About 7 bucks in parts here. This is definitely something that makes preparation that much more convenient. I purchased a manifold blue block and two double-ended male 1/4" attachments so that I can run both my scribe and eraser from the same line without having to swap them out all the time. Now the only thing I have to do is remember to adjust the pressure when switching between the two (I run the scribe at around 100-110 PSI, and the air eraser at 10-50 PSI).
I'm almost there! The last big thing I need is a much bigger capacity air compressor. Other things like a Chicago Pneumatic 9361 for bulk matrix removal would be nice, but I can probably get by without one for the time being. I still need to do a serious reorganization of the prep area to optimize on the small space.
So with site locations drying up, not quite sure when my next dig will be. Still, there will likely be fossil-related activities in the offing, so stay tuned and thanks for stopping by.
I'll end with a nod to Don McLean:
Bye bye, Devonian pie,
Drove my chisel in the Widder, but the Widder was dry.
Us good ol' boys who hunt Arkona now cry
saying 'this'll be the shale that won't supply.'