Kanon Paus!

The foundry Milling knees for the ships side project

 

Recycled copper grains that would later become our cannon

While I have been writing regularly over the past year specifically about my work with the tools here at Vasamuseet, the tool project is only one of several that I have been involved with during this time. Although I have not written extensively about the others, I have dedicated a significant amount of time to them. Two in particular deserve mention today. 

Carpenters lift a knee using a crane into Båthall II for the ships side

 

A shipwright supervises the placement of a knee in the ships side replica  Test pour at the foundry

 

One of the lifting dolphins just after casting

Cannons! Ship sides and hull sections! Replicas! Experimental archaeology! You have likely run across a few of these topics while perusing the blogs here. The ship's side and cannon replica project are two separate research endeavors at the museum that recently concluded and collided (yes, yes, it was intentional) in a particularly spectacular fashion. You may have already seen some news about that, and there will be more descriptive posts forthcoming from the experts. I was not a researcher on either of those projects, but I served as the museum's photographer for internal/technical documentation for both.

Cannon delivery

 

Ships side contemplating its fate

 

Mating gun to carriage at Bofors

It's been refreshing over the past year to take breaks from self-directed research to document and occasionally lend a hand in the development of these other projects. Here are a few highlights in celebration of the recent culmination of both. Not the whole story (you'll get that from the experts) but some of the details you begin to notice and the quieter moments you might catch while observing the evolution of a long-term project. Check back in soon for posts from the project leaders detailing the results.

Cannon balls  Smoke from cannon firing

 

Waiting for the smoke to clear after firing

 

Cannon barrel directly after firing

Hello Ivón! Bilingual report from the research project Support Vasa part III: Dreams can come true

 

Guest blogger Ivón Hassel is from Argentina, formed at the University of Kyoto, Associate Professor at the Division of Applied Mechanics of Uppsala University, specialized in timber construction and researcher in the Support Vasa project. Here, Ivón reports in her native language and English on her experimental work on the joints of Vasa: 

Dreams can come true

Discover the World!, that was my dream since I was a little child!, and I had no idea that I was going to actually do it!. I use airplanes to go from one place to the other, fast and safe enough, unlike during the 17th century when travelling involved saying goodbye from family and friends, leaving everything behind to an uncertain return. I feel actually very lucky for two reasons, being able to use airplanes instead of Ships (I get easily seasick), and the fact that Ships actually sank, leaving loads of knowledge for us to gain from their remains.

From the north of Argentina, passing through Germany and Israel, I ended up in the most traditional city of Japan, Kyoto. There I spent almost a decade studying, and it became my home. It was while in Japan that I first heard of the Vasa Ship. Just before coming to Sweden for the first time many years ago, a French friend told me: “the only thing you should not miss in Sweden is a visit to the Vasa Museum”. I did not understood why all the fuzz until I entered the museum for the first time and saw her!, she was amazing!

Now I found myself in Sweden again (not that I was lost :P), working at the Division of Applied Mechanics of Uppsala University as an Associate Professor, and as a member of a remarkable group of researchers (I am referring to them! :P)…life is full of surprises and opportunities!.

Los sueños pueden hacerse realidad

Descubrir el Mundo!, fue mi sueño desde que era una niña!, y en ese entonces no tenía idea de que lo iba a cumplir!. Uso aviones para ir de un lugar a otro, lo suficientemente rápido y seguro, no como ocurría durante el siglo 17, que antes de emprender un viaje, la gente se despedía de familiares y amigos, ya preparados para dejar todo detrás de sí, y pensar sólo en un retorno incierto. Yo me siento realmente afortunada por dos motivos, poder viajar en aviones en vez de barcos (ya que me mareo muy fácilmente), y por el hecho de que los barcos de antaño se hundía, dejando montañas de conocimientos por ser descubiertos.

Desde el norte de la Argentina, pasando por Alemania e Israel, terminé en la ciudad más tradicional de Japón, Kioto. Allá pasé casi una década estudiando, y se convirtió en mi hogar. Y fue durante mi estadía en Japón que escuché por primera vez mencionar al barco Vasa. Justo antes de mi primer viaje a Suecia, ya hace muchos años, un amigo francés me sugirió: “lo único que no tenés que dejar de visitar en Suecia es el Museo de Vasa!”. No entendí el porqué de tanto alboroto hasta el momento de entrar al museo y encontrarme con tremenda hermosura!, simplemente impresionante!.

Ahora me encuentro en Suecia nuevamente (no es que esté perdida :P), donde trabajo en le división de mecánica aplicada de la universidad de Upsala como profesora asociada, y miembro de un extraordinario grupo de investigadores (me refiero a ellos! :P)…la vida está llena de sorpresas y oportunidades!.

The most interesting project…and a challenge of “massive” magnitude

The goal of the project that I am working on was set very clearly: “Find a way to preserve the Vasa Ship for the coming generations!”. This means finding out how the Ship is deforming in order to being able to design a better support structure for the Ship. Although it is a very ambitious goal, we are a very stubborn and tenacious group of people, and loooove challenges.

My colleagues Ingela Bjurhager, Alexey Vorobyev, and Nico van Dijk have already reached a profound knowledge regarding the properties of the material constituting the Ship. Now, the time has come to zoom out and look at the “research object” at a different scale…

What is the first thing one notice about the Ship?  Well… the second…as the first one is her size!. The answer is, her structure, which is a puzzle of many massive pieces of wood put together and working as a whole. From now on I am going to refer to the pieces of wood as “structural members”, and the point at which each of the structural members meet, as “joint”. There are joints throughout the structure of the Ship, and each one of them is a weak point in the structure. Through the joints the loads are transferred from one structural element to the other, and displacement between them is generated. This adds up to the deformation of the ship due to the time-dependent-material deformation, under investigation by my colleagues.

If we want to know how the joints are influencing the overall as well as local deformation of the Ship, the best way (to my opinion) is to perform actual tests on the joints. This means, apply a force and measure the displacement that occurs in different strategic parts of the joint. Due to the difficulties of performing this type of tests directly on the Vasa ship, we decided to do it on a replica of a joint.

El Proyecto más interesante…y un desafío de magnitud “masiva”

El objetivo del proyecto en el cual estoy trabajando es muy claro: “Encontrar la manera de preservar el barco Vasa para las siguientes generaciones!”. Esto significa que tenemos que determinar cómo se está deformando la estructura, para luego poder diseñar una nueva estructura que lo soporte sin dañar. A pesar de que es un objetivo muy ambicioso, nosotros somos un grupo de personas tenaces y ambiciosas, y amaaamos los desafíos.

Mis colegas Ingela Bjurhager, Alexey Vorobyev, y Nico van Dijk ya han adquirido conocimientos profundos acerca de las propiedades mecánicas del material que constituye el barco. Ahora ha llegado el momento de mirar al problema desde una nueva perspectiva y a una escala diferente…

¿Qué es lo primero que uno nota al ver al Vasa? Bueno, lo segundo …ya que lo primero es en realidad su tamaño!. La respuesta es, su estructura, que es un rompecabezas compuesto de un montón de piezas de masivas madera, colocadas de manera que trabajan en conjunto. De ahora en más me voy a referir a estas piezas masivas de madera como “miembros estructurales”, y al punto de encuentro de los diferentes miembros estructurales lo llamaremos “unión”. Existen muchísimas uniones en el barco, y cada una de ellas constituye un punto débil en la estructura. Es a través de las uniones que es posible transmitir los esfuerzos de un elemento estructural a otro, y debido a ello se producen también desplazamientos. A esto hay que sumarle la deformación del material en función del tiempo, tema del que se ocupan de investigar mis colegas.

Si queremos saber cómo afectan las uniones a la deformación total y local del barco, la mejor manera (según mi opinión) es ensayar las uniones directamente. Esto quiere decir, aplicar cargas y medir los desplazamientos que ocurren en lugares estratégicos de las uniones. Por motivos obvios, esto no es posible de hacer directamente en el barco, por lo cual decidimos ensayar una réplica representativa de las uniones del Vasa.

On our way to fulfill the goals

I walked a long path since last year until finally reaching what felt for a long time as a dream: testing the Replica!

Replica of a representative Vasa joint ready to be tested. Réplica de una union representative del Vasa lista para ser ensayada.

Along the way many fantastic people walked with me, sharing their expertise and helping me jump over different obstacles. Fred Hocker, and Anders Ahlgren helped me become acquainted with the Ship’s structure, in order to design the joint to be tested. The best team of carpenters manufactured it, and I must say…I never thought I could have so much fun at work!. Monika Ask, Ove Olssen, Håkan Altrock, Åsa Egerquist and Robert Jonsson made every one of our meetings a memory to keep. The design of the steel testing frame (structure to support the Replica and hold the testing equipment) was designed with the help of hard-working and inquisitive minds, Florian Bommier and Alexey Vorobyev, and the help of Reza Afshar for the computer drawings and modeling. Many nights we stayed at the office with Florian sharing noodles, but very happy doing our job!

Finally the assembly of the Replica in the testing facility of KTH to use their special reinforced floor became a reality!

Different systems were used to measure the displacements on the joint when load was applied. Diferentes sistemas utilizados para la medición de desplazamientos al aplicar cargas.

Two full weeks of applying forces, measuring displacements in different parts of the joint, resulted in an extensive amount of data.

The next step is processing the pool of data, and validating a detailed computer model of the joint. Right after, the material properties of the Vasa-Oak will be included into the verified computer model. Only at this point we are going to have the computer model of the Vasa joint, and we will be ready to quantify the effect of the Vasa joints on the deformation of the Ship.

There is a lot of work for us to do still, so I better go back to it!...I say bye for now until my next post!!!

De camino a alcanzar nuestras metas

Recorrí un largo camino desde el año pasado hasta finalmente alcanzar lo que por largo tiempo parecía sólo un sueño: ensayar la Réplica!

He caminado junto a mucha gente realmente fantástica a lo largo del camino, quienes han compartido conmigo su pericia y me han ayudado a superar diferentes obstáculos. Fred Hocker y Anders Ahlgren me ayudaron a familiarizarme con la estructura del barco, y poder así diseñar la unión a ser ensayada. El mejor equipo de carpinteros la construyeron, y debo decir que nunca hubiera pensado que uno podría divertirse tanto en el trabajo!. Monika Ask, Ove Olssen, Håkan Altrock, Åsa Egerquist y Robert Jonsson hicieron memorables cada uno de nuestros encuentros. El diseño de la estructura de acero (soporte de la Réplica y del equipamiento para aplicar las cargas) fue diseñado con la ayuda de personas trabajadoras y de mentes inquisitivas, Florian Bommier y Alexey Vorovyev, y la ayuda de Reza Afshar en los dibujos y modelo por computadora. Muchas noches pasamos en la oficina con Florian compartiendo fideos, pero muy felices haciendo nuestro trabajo!

Finalmente el montaje de la Réplica en el centro de ensayos del KTH se convirtió en una realidad!

Dos semanas completes dedicadas solamente a aplicar cargas, y medir desplazamientos en diferentes partes de la unión, resultaron en un extensivo volumen de información.

a) Test and test setup, b) detailed computer model of the joint and c) replica of a representative Vasa joint. a) Ensayo y montaje del mismo, b) detallado modelo por computadora de una unión and c) réplica de una unión representativa del Vasa.

Dos semanas completes dedicadas solamente a aplicar cargas, y medir desplazamientos en diferentes partes de la unión, resultaron en un extensivo volumen de información.

El siguiente paso es procesar los datos, y validar el modelo de la unión creado en computadora. Luego de esto, las propiedades del material que constituye el barco Vasa (Vasa-roble) se incluirán en el modelo por computadora. Y sólo luego de finalizar esto, se tendrá finalmente un modelo por computadora de una unión del Vasa, y estaremos listos para cuantificar el efecto de las diferentes uniones en la deformación del barco.

Hay mucho trabajo por hacer todavía, así que mejor que vuelvo a mis obligaciones!...Por ahora digo chau hasta el siguiente mensaje!!!

 

From left to right: Reza, Florian, Ivón and Alexey. De izquierda a derecha: Reza, Florian, Ivón and Alexey.

Kartläggning

Mapping! The time has come. As the data stands, I have two binders full of measured drawings and a folder full of high-resolution photographs of the tools, plus pages and pages of notes. These things all deal with the objects as individual things. Now it's time to plug them into the bigger picture and pull the chapter together. Mapping is a really important visualization tool to help us see the relationships between the objects more clearly on a variety of levels. 

Right now, the locations in which each object was found exists only as a set of numbers and letters on the individual find records. The eventual goal is to place all of our objects into a 3-D model of the ship so that we can virtually reconstruct what the archaeologists encountered, but all at once and free of mud and water. Pretty exciting possibilities and a hundred years worth of dissertations right there. But in the meantime, we're approaching mapping in a slightly more analog way. 

I will take these profiles, traced directly from excavation photographs where we have them and from drawings where we don't, and start plotting them on the plans we have for each of the decks. It will be a visual database made up of multiple layers so that we have the possibility to see different relationhips - for example, the distribution of all the tools that also have bomärke carved into them, alongside tools with decorative marks aside from or in addition to bomärke. Or, all the measuring tools at once. Or all the cutting tools. Or, the knives and awls - things generally thought to be personal equipment, things carried by people in pockets or personal containers - alongside all the human remains. It will help us to visualize how things were distributed at the time Vasa sank, which will contribute to our understanding of what exactly was going on onboard when Vasa set sail on her first and last voyage. 

Bygningsvernkongressen 2014

I've just returned from an inspiring trip to Norway for the Bygningsvernkongressen 2014 * at the Norsk Folk Museum in Oslo. It was three days of workshop practicums, lectures, and discussions attended by more than 350 cultural historians, conservators, academics, builders/makers, scientists, teachers, practictioners, etc. I was there as a representative of Vasamuseet to present my study of the ship's carpenter's tool chest alongside PhD candidate Roald Renmaelmo of Göteborgs Universitet's Institutionen för Kulturvård, who has recently built a replica of the carpenter's bench that was found aboard Vasa (more about that project to follow).  

 

The conference took place around the campus of the Folk Museum and the Norsk Maritimt Museum over the course of three glorious crisp early autumn days. I followed a track that was mostly sailing/maritime archaeology/museum focused, but there were practical workshops on everything from blacksmithing to sod-roof(ing?) and window glazing. The lectures and discussions covered an impressive range of cultural heritage topics, from painting conservation and pigment theory to dendrochronology. In addition to the smaller workshops and panels, each day there was one large gathering of all pariticpants in an outdoor amphitheater on the museum grounds (see above and below). These all-school meetings were somewhat improvised, and thematically arranged around the performative aspects of craft - i.e. how mesmerizing it is to watch other people do hard work.

We're all familiar with the phenomenon - five people standing around watching while one person does all the work - we've probably all even participated in similar scenes ourselves. On the surface, it's humorous! Jokes about the relative affinities for work among different careers/nationalities/age groups/whatever ! abound. But let's reconsider. It makes sense that people are drawn to watching other people work at a high level of specialization. Watching someone work with a specific tool or material or methodology that they have spent thousands of hours practicing is an incredible thing. It almost doesn't matter what the content is, or what is being produced, only that the object (say, a shingle, or a plank, or a piece of blown glass) is an artifact that represents an immense investment of time in learning to master that particular craft. It's the same reason we are enthralled by watching live musicians or dancers perform; it is a pure form of engagement, the closest we can get to something we have not mastered ourselves. To watch someone work at something in person, not translated through photographs or words or a screen, is an increasingly rare privilege in the digital age. Translation is an art form in it's own right, and I don't mean to demean it here - but it always involves some loss or, more accurately, evolution; a step of removal from the original. But the singular connection that occurs between craftsperson and viewer in person is impossible to replicate through any other media.  

The idea of work being performance, and performance as a mechanism for teaching and preserving craft, was revisited consistently over the three days of the conference. There was also an undeniably playful element to it all, with the opening ceremony involving the quasi-magical surprise reveal of a sign painted inside a log that was sawn in front of us on stage, and the amplification and broadcasting of the sounds of planes and saws with the help of wireless mics (see above and above). These were all noises that the whole audience (with a strong majority of carpenters and woodworkers) were familiar with - but by putting a microphone on the plane itself, and broadcasting the ensuing familiar sound, a single element in the normal workshop environment is picked out. Our attention is drawn to something that is has become "invisible" to us because it is so familiar. In contrast, here, with this amplification, it was as if the organizers were grabbing us all by the jaw and turning our heads gently to the side - "shh. Listen." No one had to stand up on stage and ask everyone to quiet down before the talking could begin. Instead, the assembly of 350 people simply rolled to a full hushed stop naturally, captivated by the sound of the pit-saw working through the log up on stage.

 

Translation in the literal sense was also an important theme for me over the course of the three-day conference. The whole thing was in Norwegian!** Which, incidentally, I do not speak. I understand a little with my limited grasp of Swedish, but I am still very much an observer when it comes to events like this. My entire experience of the conference necessarily passed through a language filter ("barrier" is not quite accurate; "semi-permeable membrane" is more applicable in this case, I think). I found it limiting in some ways, naturally. I'm sure I was seen wandering around more than once looking slightly bemused, detached, attempting to infer through the movement patterns of those around me those key single sentences regarding logistics - buses! times! building names! meeting points! - that seem often to come at the end of long theoretical talks and are so easily missed by the far-from-fluent.  

But, this distance was also liberating in that I could take in the broad swathe of what was going on around me without getting tangled up in the details. Not being able to understand everything all the time frees one to watch, to listen to the sounds and the crowd instead of to the specific words, to observe how those around you are engaging with one another and the local environment as well as what is being presented to them. It was illuminating and diverting to watch how a whole group of 21st century makers connected with the space around them: with the one and two and three hundred year old buildings scattered around the grounds, with their cameras, with their phones, and with one another. Watching what they focused on, and how. 

The incorporation of the modern alongside the investigation of the historical or the traditional was another important theme. I loved that around the museum and within the context of the conference, there was no pretense - no one was trying to fool anyone into thinking it was 1900 or 1750 or 1600. We are modern thinkers and builders investigating traditional processes, but also acknowledging as conservators and people interested in preservation that those practices continue to evolve. Great stuff.

 

Here is Roald's Vasa carpenter's bench replica! He's done a great job of both documenting and presenting the building process as well as the bench as a funtioning object, so I'll let his blog speak for itself: http://hyvelbenk.wordpress.com/

 

Stay tuned for a future post about how the bench itself fits in with my research into the ship's carpenter's tools. There are some surprises in store - !

   

On the last day of the conference I had the privilege of visiting the off-center storage site for the museum for a lecture and discussion about arranging storage spaces so that they function, practically as storage (their primary purpose for being, right?) but can also be useful to researchers and interested folks at large. 

This beautiful piece caught my eye - who knows, perhaps this particular carpenter was born around the same time as Vasa...

In summary, it was a fantastic few days. Looking forward to continuing the conversations that began there. But now, back to Stockholm! Schools back in session, the high summer season is over. Time to get back to the office and to storage, and time to get writing again! & also hopefully to shorter, more regular blog posts... 

* roughly: Heritage Conservation Conference, 2014

** with the obvious exception of my own paper, and possibly a few others? But none that I attended