In the words of the great Indiana Jones, “it belongs in a museum!”
Now, even if your arrowhead does not end up in a museum but instead in your personal collection, it should still be put on display for everyone to see.
But how exactly should we go about doing this? Let’s take a look at “how to mount arrowheads.”
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Table of Contents
- Mounting Arrowheads, The Ins And Outs
- Before Mounting
- Can I use glue and other adhesives to attach the arrowheads?
- Other Methods Of Displaying Arrowheads
- Cataloguing Stone Arrowheads
Mounting Arrowheads, The Ins And Outs
Purchasing or making a shadowbox/display case is the first step, but what factors should you consider when attaching the arrowheads, how do you mount the points safely, and are there other ways to display these stone artifacts?
Although there is some debate around securing stone arrowheads, most collectors opt to use a shadow box or display case for mounting arrowheads in. The most important factor is to ensure the preservation of the artifact, so all materials and methods need to be carefully considered.
When it comes to mounting your authentic arrowhead or spearhead collection, your aim should not only be aesthetics but also to preserve the integrity of these stone artifacts.
Original craftsmanship, color and materials, along with a stunning patina that forms over the arrowhead, make these points valuable (money, archeological and education values) and worth preserving to the best of our abilities.
In order to best preserve an arrowhead, as well as to display it for all to see, many collectors use a type of Riker box or display case/frame. Arrowheads can be displayed artistically and safely in these by limiting moisture, movement and dust build-up.
Most shadowboxes are mounted onto walls (in a vertical position), but they can be placed horizontally on a stand.
There are a few benefits and drawbacks to each method:
|Vertical (on the wall)||-Saves space|
-Easier to see
-It can be mounted on a wall
|Arrowheads need to be properly secured|
-Whatever the frame is mounted on needs to be strong enough to support the combined weight of the box and artifacts.
-Not easily moved
|Horizontal (on a stand/tabletop)||-Arrowheads do not need to be as well secured|
-Not limited by the quality of walls etc. when it comes to mounting
-Very easy to move to a different spot
|Display cases require more space than when mounted.|
-Not immediately visible, you’ll need to “go and look”
- Make sure the arrowhead is clean and free of dirt.
This is not only for the aesthetics but also to ensure that mounting is made easier. Dirt can loosen over time which may cause your arrowhead to shift/drop and break.
- After cleaning, make sure your arrowhead(s) is/are dry. This is best done by air drying, as heating could cause damage to the patina or stone.
- Select a display case or frame that suits your needs. From craft shops to Amazon, to homemade DIY ideas, the possibilities are limitless when selecting a frame. The color, type of wood, design, and what will enhance the arrowheads best are all personal preferences. This includes the backing.
- Most shadowboxes have a solid backboard covered in a type of material. Make sure when choosing a backboard that it is strong enough to hold up your collection.
- Decide where you would like to display the shadowbox/frame and mount it with screws/attachments that are strong enough to hold the case on the wall.
How to Secure Your Arrowheads Safely
- Monofilament fiber: If you are handy with a needle and thread, this way works well. You can poke through the backing and then attach the arrowhead by looping a thread around it.
- Nylon: this works in the same way as the monofilament fiber, except you will be using nylon instead. Both of these work well if the arrowheads have notches in them.
- Leather or sinew (synthetic and organic). This creates a nice historical look, where you wrap the base of the arrowhead in leather or sinews and then attach the leather/sinew onto the backing.
- Wire or clear polyester plastic. Similar to the above methods, using wire is stronger for larger items. It will, however, show up/be visible.
Clear polyester plastic, such as Melinex 516, is strong and clear, so it won’t show and will not stretch as nylon might.
- Using a foam backing and the glass cover to secure the arrowheads in place is a very good practice if you don’t mind sacrificing some aesthetics.
- The arrowheads are secured in place by recessing the foam backing (which is then covered in a type of material) and “wedging” the arrowhead between the glass cover and the foam.
The downfall is that you lose the dimension and shadow effect of the case.
- Once attached to the backing, the glass can be placed over the case/door closed.
Can I use glue and other adhesives to attach the arrowheads?
This is an area of much discussion. Many people advocate the use of a type of glue on the arrowhead. I and many others, however, disagree.
Although water-based glue should be easy enough to remove, there is still a chance that it may bond well with the arrowhead and could cause damage when removed.
Secure your arrowheads without glue and chemicals!
Another issue is that chemicals in the glue stand to damage the patina covering the stone. This can devalue the arrowhead up to around 50%, as reported by some collectors.
A final thought on the adhesive point is that once it’s stuck, an arrowhead can’t be moved as easily, so your display will remain like that. For some, that’s not an issue, but it is another factor to consider.
Another important factor to remember when choosing shadowbox materials to be used is that all materials need to be non-corrosive, not acidic and UV protected to prolong the life of the artifacts and the materials within the shadowbox.
Other Methods Of Displaying Arrowheads
The use of shadowboxes and other frame-type mounts is by far the more popular method of displaying arrowheads. There are, however, some additional ways to display them. These include:
- Mounting them onto an arrow. Although not recommended, you can go for the authentic look and mount your arrowhead onto a wooden arrow. This is generally done using sinews and a type of glue made from combining wood pitch and wax.
- Tabletop mounts. Similar to a display case, putting arrowheads underneath a glass tabletop is another great idea. Tables made of wood can be recessed so that the arrowheads fit snugly in the wood, without pressure from the tabletop being directly on them.
Some tables that have deeper glass shelves are also ideal for larger artifacts such as spearheads. I would advise against using resin to encase the arrowheads.
Try to always maintain the quality of the arrowheads and their patina, as these are aesthetically pleasing and archeologically important.
Cataloguing Stone Arrowheads
A vital aspect of any collection of artifacts is cataloging. This not only helps you remember where, when, and how your arrowheads were found, but it also could add value to your collection (monetary included).
Information that should be recorded
- Date found
- Place found
- The person who found the arrowhead
- Measurements of the arrowhead
- Features of the arrowhead (color, shape, any unique patterns, chips, etc.)
- Which time period the arrowhead comes from (if known)
These details can be written into a type of logbook.
Arrowheads can be photographed and photos put with the logs.
Alternatively, numbering the arrowheads and then linking the numbers to the logbook entries.
Displaying your arrowhead collection at home is a great conversation starter; remember, though, to mount the points in such a way that preserves the integrity of your collection.
You would hate to realize that the next $276,000 arrowhead was devalued because of some hot glue. Thanks for reading!