Saturday, July 12, 2014

Water Cache Olla

From the Director...

I hope you saw the article in the IV Press today...

As we are preparing artifacts and prototyping cases for the new permanent exhibit new things are gradually coming into the museum.

Last week we moved the water cache olla into the museum. In the records of the IVC Museum, this olla was referred to as the "Fabian" olla. I was not sure why, but in the last few weeks the story has come together.

In February 1977, Leonard Fabian, a planner with the city of of Imperial, found an olla in the side of a wash that was severally eroding after Hurricane Kathleen. Fabian notified the IVC Museum and the BLM, and the olla was excavated and fully documented. According to an article published in the museum's newsletter, this was the first archaeologically documented water cache in Imperial County.

The story of the "Fabian" olla is a success story to the BLM, and Fabian was considered somewhat of a local hero. More often, when someone came across an olla in the Imperial Valley in the 1970s they just took it and put into a private collection. This water cache olla was brought to the college museum so that it would benefit the public and have a greater educational purpose. The olla and its accompanying ceramic cap are now back together and on display for the first time since at least 1999. They will be one of the central displays in the new exhibit. We will be prototyping two different ways of telling the story of this olla over the next few weeks. If you come by the museum, please take a minute to provide comments your comments.


Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Good Day for Ollas

We have been finding that the field notebooks that we have are invaluable. We have been going through the field book of Guido Bianchi. He was a photographer at the IVC Museum. This particular notebook, dated 1975-1977 includes his excavation of what was referred to at the IVC Museum as the "Fabian" olla. We had located this very large olla during the re-curation process. But no other artifacts had been found.

Jessica Brody was able to cross reference the site number recorded in Bianchi's notes with all of the records annotated by Mel Clifton-Harvey when she here in March 2013. The missing ceramic bowl was located in the IC and had been marked "no provenience." This was a great find.

A few pages later in the Bianchi field book he had notes and pictures of two ollas that had been brought into the college by J Harrington. One of these ollas was located in the olla storage room and had also been marked "no provenience." The Harrington ollas are in the accession record and were presumed missing.

This one field book verified two ollas which have now been identified, cataloged, and prepared for exhibit.

As we are getting further with our archives project, it is becoming apparent that some of the old field books, even the student field books, are the only source of information we have on some of the artifacts in the collection.

We want to thank everyone who has donated their notes and field books.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Kickstarter Project

Just 36 hours left in our Kickstarter campaign. We are so thankful to the people who have given. It is really cool to see this project come together after three years. If you have not participated there is still time. But not much time.

You can check out the Kickstarter site by CLICKING HERE.  As of a few minutes ago we were just $75 short of $3,500. A $25 donation gets you an invite to a special private party once the observatory is up. Don't miss out.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Firing Ollas

This week we successfully pit fired a group of pots. This is always stressful. In 2013 about 90 percent of the pots we fired broke. This year we have crushed up and re-purposed about 90 percent of the pots made at the museum. These are the first pots fired since last year. They came through without breaking...well almost. The neck of the carved pot broke when I tried to move it too early.

It has been very windy in Ocotillo, so it is hard to pit fire all the time, but this test was successful, so we will move onto the next test...firing the pots from the birthday party a couple weeks ago.

The young lady who wanted to have her birthday at the museum stopped by a couple days ago to see if we had fired her pots. We had not. But hopefully next time she comes by they will be.

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Happy Birthday!!

"From the Interim Head Curator"

Partying with coiled clay
Today we were excited to host something a little bit different- a birthday party!  A lovely young lady asked if she could have part of her birthday party at the museum because of how much she "loves science and nature".  Who could say no to that?  So she and several of her best friends (ages 5-10) came out, got a tour of the museum, and made coiled clay pots with us. Several parents also joined in and it was a contest to see who could make the best pot- kids or grown ups!

They also helped us try something new in our exhibits.  We are starting to prototype part of our permanent exhibit to see what works and what should be changed, and these kids were the first to dive in and help us.  They explored, they tested, and were happy to tell us what they liked.  They can't wait to see the simple cardboard boxes we're using turn into drawers with even more cool stuff to see!  We learned a lot from them and are really excited to add some of their suggestions into our exhibit!  Thanks guys, and Happy Birthday!


Thursday, May 29, 2014

Kids Love Clay

"From the Summer Youth Programming Intern"

This past weekend the museum hauled one tent, three tables, and fifty pounds of fresh clay up to Jacumba for the Healing Waters and Arts Festival. If there is one thing to be taken from the whole experience it is this: kids love clay. Despite the searing heat, kids at the festival passed up water-slides and bouncy-castles to come to the museum booth and attempt to make a coiled clay pot. We literally had kids who stayed at our booth for more than 2 hours.

Our coiled program was not grant funded this year. We have been smashing up pots and reusing clay for all of our last ten 4th grade field trips. This week, however, we ran out of clay.

The Jacumba festival would not have been possible except for Lorraine Pritchett, who saw our need and donated $400 for clay. We picked up 400 pounds of clay in San Diego on Friday and on Saturday hauled it back up to Jacumba.

It was the perfect day in California's "rejuvenation adventureland". The wind was soft and carried the sound of multiple violins and singers across the festival grounds. With good food, good weather, and good company, there was not much more to ask for. Not only did we have a great time at the festival, but it produced some of the museums most dazzling pieces of coiled clay art to date.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Help Us Build a Lunar Observatory

"From the Artist in Residence"

If you ever stopped by the museum back in 2012 you might remember seeing a wall cascaded in large pictures in the back of the gallery. The photos depicted large-scale art installations in various places around the world. There was a pile of white circular stickers that you could take and put on your favorite one. As the year went on more and more pictures were added to the wall. More stickers were put on those pictures. If you do remember that you might have thought to yourself at one point or another within the last two years "Whatever happened with those pictures on the wall at the museum? Weren't we supposed to build something?"

Well if you do remember the pictures on the wall back in 2012, and if you have ever asked yourself a question pertaining to their whereabouts, you now have an answer! As of yesterday at 11:23am we have launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise money to build what we are calling the Ocotillo Observatory: the much anticipated conclusion to the three-year-long effort to build a large scale inhabitable art installation on the museum grounds. Kicktarter is a website that helps crowd-source projects within a community. We started this project together, and we need your help to finish it.

To give to the campaign head over to and pledge any amount you want!