Tuesday, June 22, 2010

It's a Bird, it's a plane, it's the new guy!

By Stephen Loughman, Prepartor

As you may have seen from a few previous posts, it seems I have become the go-to guy for all things up in the air. And no different was this on May 29th for the grand unveiling of the much-anticipated Haida Totem Pole. It was a moment of great excitement and relief when the covering for the pole fluttered to the ground when the cue was given.

When I was told back in April that I would be in charge of coming up with a way to cover a thirty foot totem pole, I really had no idea where to start. So the rest of the curatorial staff and I racked our brains and came up with the idea of using nylon rip stop and sewing three pieces together. We chose nylon because we knew it would slide off easily during the unveiling and it would allow air to circulate and let the pole “breathe” while installed for three weeks. After brushing up on my sewing skills, I was able to come up with a giant type of windsock. On the day we installed the pole, I hopped aboard a cherry picker and dropped the cover over the pole. It was tied with rope at the top. Then, we installed bungee cords every few feet down the length of the pole to keep the covering secure. Once covered, every morning I would go out to make sure the covering was secure. Secrecy was the main goal as we wanted to keep our Totem Pole undercover until the official unveiling.

We were all thankful that the pole remained under wraps, which I think created a very exciting atmosphere. It was a little nerve racking as I was traveling up the back of the pole in our Genie lift to get into position for the unveiling. Yet with a one good cut from my knife the pole saw daylight for the first time since going up. Mission accomplished!

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