Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Hunting for the Trash

 Alternative title, "How Blogging Saved the Arrowhead Collection."  

Whew, I am sighing with relief!  Earlier today, I was all set to write a post about how I finally framed the arrowheads my dad had collected through the years and got them out of the metal recipe box I'd stashed them in and into a decent shadowbox I could hang on the wall.  An interesting enough story.  

But when I got to editing pictures for the post, something was not right.  

I'd taken a photo of the grouping laid out on my cutting table a couple weeks ago, back when I was puttering in the sewing room and tidying things up.  I'd begun with the intention of putting them in a wheel-like configuration.  

Later that morphed into something more free-form and asymmetrical.  Along the way, I took several photos to share with my daughter Michelle for her input as to various ideas and iterations.

In looking back through the pictures today, though, I noticed my "final" shadowbox (directly below) was two points short!  

I went back and forth between photos and counted and recounted.  Sure enough, I was missing three arrowheads!  Two nice ones and another I'd decided not to include because it looked a little too perfect, like a souvenir arrowhead.

Where could they be?!  I quickly searched my sewing room, but I already had a sinking feeling: I'd thrown them away!

Then:  What day was it?  When was garbage pickup day?  Were they still in the dumpster?

With rubber gloves and mask, I went out to the dumpster with my husband to fish out the bag.  Through the clear plastic, I could see the narrow strip of batting I'd wrapped them in when I'd stored them in the recipe box.  Right near the top of the bag, fortunately.  Please-please-please let them be in there!

I opened the bag and pulled out the wad of batting.  I could feel a couple faint lumps.  I opened it carefully and there they were!  Woo-hoo—and whew, too!

After washing and drying them, I went straight to work, reopening the shadowbox and mounting the almost-lost arrowheads.  Luckily there was a little space on the upper right and left sides where I could squeeze them in and not throw things off noticeably.

Dad found arrowheads as a boy in the 1930s and '40s, usually while walking with his brothers and friends through farm fields in the spring.  The family truck farm was on the edge of a great marsh fed by the Rock River, which had been home to native people for thousands of years.  

I myself never went arrowhead hunting...until today.

When dad passed away a few years ago, my siblings and I divided up his small collection.  I stored my share in an old recipe box on a sewing room shelf.  When I came across them again recently, I decided it was time to bring them into the light of day and display them somehow.  So I bought a 10x10-inch shadowbox on Amazon.  

I had a couple old deerskins from my father-in-law from his hunting days.  He'd had them tanned by a local company in 1992, according to the receipt that was still in the box.  Many hunters in this area used to tan their deer hides and have them made into gloves, slippers/moccasins, coats, etc.  My thinking was to use the deerskin as a background for the arrowheads.  I cut off a small piece to use as a color sample to see how it might look in the frame with the arrowheads on top.

Long story short, after a couple layout attempts and with Michelle's helpful input, I ended up using a piece of black leather as the background and layered the deerskin on top.  Even though I'd just haphazardly cut a bit of deerskin off the big piece for a color swatch, I was starting to like the raggedy edges and asymmetrical shape of the piece.  It had movement and interest to it, and I liked that.

The black leather was from a coat my husband bought at Goodwill several years ago.  He stopped wearing it when it went too far out of style, but instead of sending it back to the thrift store, I cut the supple black cowhide apart and saved it for...whatever.  I flipped it to the reverse (suede) side as the background for a bit of textural contrast.

I used a super-strength fabric glue to glue the black leather to a foam board backing, and then the deerskin to the leather.  Then I used a hot glue gun to adhere the arrowheads.  I know that last sentence may send true arrowhead collectors into apoplexy, but it was the most workable solution for me.  I don't intend to take them out to trade with other collectors or sell or show; the shadowbox is for purely sentimental value.

So here (directly above) is the final-final result.  All arrowheads present and accounted for, on the wall next to the door of the sewing room.  What a story they tell—the original peoples', immigrant ancestors', Dad's, and my own.


  1. I think the way you have mounted these treasures is beautiful. What a keepsake!

  2. I love what you did with the arrowheads. Please put a note on the back somehow telling people in the future the story behind them and the backing. It would be a shame if your great grandchild were to inherit it but not have the history and think it was a store bought souvenir.

  3. What a fabulous way to preserve your Dad's arrowheads, Paulette, while being able to actually enjoy them!!

  4. Ugh! That had to been a sickening feeling. So glad you found them! Your shadow box looks terrific. What a great way to remember your dad.

  5. So glad you were able to recover those arrowheads!! I like your presentation. I agree that the hide has lots of interest and provides a great sense of movement. I bet your Dad would be pleased.


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