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First attempt at some Sharktooth Hill matrix pieces


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I recently had a chance to try my hand at a few matrix pieces from Sharktooth Hill. I'm happy with how they came out, although I know I could do a better job next time. Huge shout out to @digit and @ynot for their advice and encouragement. I think the thing I appreciate about matrix pieces like these are that prepping them this way can turn a rather unremarkable tooth into something unique. Anyway, I had fun doing it and I was encouraged to post a "trip report" so here goes... 

 

Here's how they looked when I got home.

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Nice to find out the tooth was intact. WooHoo!

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I used dental tools (nice set online for <$20) and small paintbrushes to scratch away the matrix. A super soft fluffy brush I found in my wife's makeup kit (shhhh!) was great for removing loosened silt. The matrix looks wet because I was dipping a finger in water and barely touching the matrix to soften it. Not too much though because that Sharktooth Hill matrix can be really soft. When I got more experienced I started using a small paintbrush to apply the water more carefully.

 

 

Oh nooooooooooo! The tooth fell out. Does that happen to anyone else? I decided that meant the tooth just wanted to be cleaned so I took the opportunity.

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A quick clean up and a little CA glue and we are back in business.

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QUESTION: How do the rest of you actually get the tooth clean? There was no way I was going to be able to wash it or use a toothbrush or anything like that. I can tell myself "I like them a little dirty" but can't help but notice that some people get them really nice and clean. Any tips? Esp. with that STH matrix.

 

  

 

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The next one posed a challenge due to its orientation.

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I had to be extra careful and put a little glue at a few stopping points along the way.

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Finished product.

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And here's the "family picture." The middle one is tooth that's a bit damaged and pretty plain, but I like the way it chose to present itself in the matrix.

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Fun times! Thanks again to everyone here for being such a helpful forum and especially to @digit and @ynot for their help and encouragement.

 

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Bobby Rico
3 hours ago, ScottM said:

And here's the "family picture." The middle one is tooth that's a bit damaged and pretty plain, but I like the way it chose to present itself in the matrix.

Hi they look pretty nice to me. I have never prepped any of theses shark teeth, so can’t answer your question  but l have a few in the matrix in my collection from this location. I have to say I really like fossil that is left in it’s matrix they just seam more interesting to look at.  :meg:

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Good job! They look really nice!

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It's been a few years (4) since we met Tony at the Ernst Quarry at Sharktooth Hill to experience that special place with is abundance of Miocene shark teeth. I wrote up a trip report for the hunting part and I showed some of the micro-fossils I found while picking through the micro-matrix I took back. I also shows a bit of how I prepped the teeth that I brought back in matrix:

 

http://www.thefossilforum.com/index.php?/topic/60863-shark-tooth-hill-ernst-quarry-hunt-on-2016-01-22/&do=findComment&comment=651533

 

As i recall I did most of the uncovering of these teeth and shaping of matrix primarily with a small X-Acto knife.

 

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It worked really well for shaving down the sandy/silty matrix allowing me to carve it how I wanted. I don't believe I wet the matrix at all. I had wrapped the pieces in newspaper and put them in plastic bags for the trip home and the site was damp from recent rains when we were out at the quarry. As a result the matrix was lightly damp already and so I felt no need to soften it at all with additional applications of water. The knife blade worked very well at slowly shaving away the matrix and the fine tip was useful in working around the edges of the teeth to carefully undercut around the edges of the tooth so that they presented nicely. I have a set of dental picks that I use when working with micro-matrix and I may have made use of some of them as well while shaping the matrix. For cleaning the teeth I carefully used the knife to scrape any sticky matrix from the blades (which tend to some out of the matrix relatively clean due to the smooth surface). The roots were cleaned of the majority of the matrix with the knife but when I got down to the root itself I generally used a tooth brush to carefully brush away the remaining sandy matrix bits.

 

This was before I had any of the thermoplastic resin consolidants that are usually dissolved in acetone or alcohol so my choice for stabilization was CA glue. I used a number of the small tubes of this "super glue" to both stabilize the softer shark teeth roots (prone to crumbling) and to soak into the surface of the sculpted matrix. The fumes from CA glue can get a bit heady (especially when used in larger amounts) so this is something you want to do out in the garage. If I were to do this again I'd use my consolidant which is dissolved in an acetone base. I wouldn't dunk and soak these as I might do with another fossil as I'd be worried that the matrix would simply dissolve to a pile of sand and silt. I'd probably use a small paint brush to dab the consolidant to the matrix and let it soak in.

 

I sent several of my larger Isurus planus teeth to Tony and he did a great job of wire-wrapping them. They look great on a necklace. The rest of the loose teeth were donated to the FLMNH when I discovered their collection only contained a few specimens of Isurus planus that were donated over 50 years ago. The museum had none of the smaller species usually found when picking micro-matrix so I added a nice diversity of micros to that donation. Just about the only things I kept to remember that fun collecting trip by are the teeth in matrix which are in a display case that I walk by every day. They make me smile when I remember a great day out digging in the dirt with my hunting partner Tammy and forum favorite @ynot.

 

 

Cheers.

 

-Ken

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15 hours ago, ScottM said:

QUESTION: How do the rest of you actually get the tooth clean? There was no way I was going to be able to wash it or use a toothbrush or anything like that. I can tell myself "I like them a little dirty" but can't help but notice that some people get them really nice and clean. Any tips? Esp. with that STH matrix.

I clean the tooth after it is stabilized in the matrix. I remove a little of the matrix around a small area of the tooth and secure it with the glue. Then I do the next small area. This way only a little of the tooth is exposed at a time.  Once one side is complete I can do the other side in one cleaning (rather than several small steps). After the tooth is exposed and secured (with glue) I will shape the base and then seal all of the matrix. Then I will use a toothbrush to clean the blade of the tooth.

In Your picture the matrix looks too wet over too much area. Use less water and let it dry before doing the next area (especially when next to the tooth).

 

Your end product came out looking nice.:thumbsu:

 

 

Here is My thread on STH matrix prep.

 

 

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Very good job for a first attempt and also very good advice from Ken and Tony.

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