Update: 10 June 2017

I realised today that I haven’t posted anything to this blog in over a year. OVER A YEAR. I look at beads and 3D modelling and glass all day, nearly every day, and I somehow haven’t posted here in over a year. Which isn’t good.

I will say that it’s a bit difficult knowing what to write about. I’ve already done most of the easy posts (easy to think of, that is, not necessarily easy to write!), and I’ve done some larger general posts. Since I’m in the middle of my PhD, you’d think that would be the obvious thing to write about. I do all this research after all, and it could easily go into a blog.

The problem is that all of that research either involves objects with significant licensing issues (so I can’t just put them up online) or is crucial to my PhD (so I can’t really publish it ahead of time). So I find myself struggling to write about anything on this blog, and as any normal person would, I have thus avoided writing. Apparently I’ve been avoiding it for just over a year.

A lot of people have said I could write about the process of the PhD. That’s certainly an option, but I feel that most PhD students end up doing that, I don’t really want to become yet another person who writes about the PhD experience.

All that being said, I’m being a bit ridiculous acting like there’s nothing to write about. There are articles I’ve read, stories about new bead finds, new glass finds, new information about the objects, the people, and the properties or characteristics of both that I really do have a wealth of possible blog posts. I just need to motivate myself to do it. So that’s what I’m going to do, hopefully for the rest of this PhD.

So what have I been doing for the last year?

A lot, though sometimes it feels like relatively little. I’ve been attending conferences and have had a bid accepted to host one here in Glasgow. I’ve been on four field projects since my last post – all in Scotland. Only one of which directly related to my PhD work, but all of them were good experiences and all of them involved digital imaging techniques in one way or another. And then I’ve been working on my PhD, which has changed a bit in the last year. Not astronomically, but significantly.

I’ve also applied for a lot of funding from various groups, and have received very little. That’s perhaps been the most frustrating element of all this, is the degree to which funding decisions have hurt my ability to complete this research. In truth, funding bodies deciding not to fund me is disappointing, but understandable. They get a lot of applications, and my research is such that it often doesn’t quite conform to exactly what these funding bodies are looking for. What’s more frustrating is the number of times I have been told I am ineligible for funding because I am American, or because I started my studies in January instead of September (and am therefore too ‘young’ for one round of applications and too ‘old’ for the next). But what’s most frustrating is having someone who is supposedly an expert in 3D modelling and digital imaging saying I don’t deserve funding because my research is too ‘peripheral and unimportant’ (actual words) or because it’s ‘no different than laser scanning a building’ (also actual words) and is therefore really easy to do.

So I’ve had some serious funding issues.

BUT, that is also where my biggest breaks have come from. The organisations that have funded me for smaller amounts have been incredibly supportive. More commonly, though, a number of people in Scotland have seen or heard of my digital imaging abilities, particularly in relation to difficult objects, and have hired me for various freelance jobs. Freelance work is currently the largest funder of my PhD aside from student loans, and I am eternally grateful for all those who contributed to that work.

Despite the funding chaos, my PhD has been an incredibly positive experience so far – a stressful one, but still very positive. My supervisors are incredibly supportive, as are the departments in which I am housed. The research continues to move forward in ways I would never have predicted, as is the nature of a PhD. And so I find myself just over a month shy of the halfway mark feeling a bit of disbelief that I’m nearly halfway done, but largely contentment and even excitement at what I’ve done and where the project appears to be going at the moment.

I know I said I didn’t want this to turn into a blog about the process of the PhD, but it seems to be doing just that. And maybe I’ll let it, at least to some degree. So I’m going to keep plugging away at it and keep applying for funding and keep doing what I do, but hopefully I’ll remember to post a lot more frequently from now on!

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About Heather Christie

Heather is an archaeologist, photographer, and writer whose research focuses on beads and bead trade, particularly in a maritime sense. She's currently working working on a PhD in Digital Design (focusing on heritage visualisation) at the Glasgow School of Art.
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