Thursday, April 28, 2016

19th-20th Century Arctic Wooden Kayak Paddle

This blog is mainly devoted to single blade canoe paddles, but occasionally a double-bladed paddle peaks my interest. The Cobbs Auctioneers are having a Fine Art, Antiques & Sporting auction on April 30th, 2016 (commencing 10:00 AM EDT). Included in the catalog is a late 19th/early 20th C Inuit Kayak paddle with interesting blade designs and decorative carvings on the centre of the loom.

 Description: Inuit Carved Wood Kayak Paddle, double bladed with a central carved block to identify the owner, 76" long , identified with the Attu Islands area due the unusual shape of the paddle blades, good old finish, 19th/20thC 

The closeup of the central part showcases the subtle carving. The round grip shafts transition into a square central part marked with 4 cross marks. The provided description claims this is a mark to identify the owner.

The shaft tapers right before meeting the blade. The blade itself features a subtle indent about half way down the sides with angular tips. This design might make for an interesting single blade pattern which in theory would have a stiffer upper portion and a more flexible feel near the tip.

Not sure about the ethnographic identification about this being an Inuit paddle though. The description mentions that paddle shape is traced to the Attu Islands area which is traditionally Aleut territory, a similar but distinctive sub-Arctic culture from Canadian / Greenland Inuit peoples.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Frank Benson: Canoeman has a closed lot auction listing for a beautiful piece of familiar canoe art. This sketch of Frank W Benson's Canoeman...

Canoeman, 1919
signed "Frank W. Benson" lower left
etching, 7 7/8 by 6 in.
numbered "26" lower right Paff # 161, edition 26 of 150
Estimate: $3,000 - $4,000
Lot closed - Winning bid:$4,800

A lot of canoe related memorabilia seems to be fetching over the listing prices lately. Readers might recall, I used this as the basis for the decoration on my Camp Stool Project. Now I'll have a pricey story to tell everytime the stool gets used.

Burning the image

Decoration Complete

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Historic Paddle Illustration: W.B. Berczy - Indian Encampment...

A painting by William Bent Berczy (1791 – 1873) entitled " Indian Encampment near Amherstburg" features a stylized shore scene. In the rear is a bark canoe and a set of decorated paddles lying on the ground.

Indian Encampment near Amherstburg, c. 1819-1830
William Bent Berczy
British, Canadian, 1791 - 1873
watercolour over graphite on wove paper
36.3 x 47.9 cm
Purchased 1998

A closeup of the paddles reveal simple decorative patterns...

Painted Paddle's Closeup

One paddle looks to have a diagonal checkered pattern with red paint (similar to William Armstrong's art) and the other has half the blade painted in red. This is reminiscent of the bark canoe souvenir model at the MET museum and some of James Peachey's paintings.

Monday, April 18, 2016

c1900 Birch Penobscot Painted Paddle

April 2016 current selections at features the following listing...

Painted Penobscot Canoe Paddle
An excellent example of a Native American birch canoe paddle with a wide, flat handle and a beaver tail blade. It has a red paint surface ending in an arrow shape at the grip.
Circa 1900
8" w, 69" h

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Heritage Paddles by Pyrographic Artist Dot Bonnenfant

For those who appreciate fine, pyrographic paddle art, check out the amazing work of Dot Bonnenfant of Heritage Paddles. Her gallery page contains a wonderful array of designs including samples inspired by native artwork, natural scenery and symbolic decoration with special meanings for the recipient.

Three of my favourite designs include her version of the well documented, 19th Century Passamaquoddy / Maliseet at the McCord Museum in Montreal.

Image Courtesy Dot Bonnenfant
Heritage Paddles

Dot was also commissioned to make a paddle as a presentation gift for the 2007 Heritage Rivers Conference -  Bill Mason Award. This paddle was presented to well known Canadian Wilderness Guide, Author and Artist, Hap Wilson.  Her design was inspired by aboriginal bead and porcupine quill work. Years ago, I got a chance to see this paddle up close when Hap was visiting the Toronto Outdoor Adventure show. The textured burning was amazing requiring a very steady hand and much artistry.

Image Courtesy Dot Bonnenfant
Heritage Paddles

Not just limited to abstract designs, Dot has also done burnings of an ancient art form known to many canoe trippers...petroglyph artwork. The paddle set below was made as a wedding present for a family who have canoed and camped near petroglyph sites in Ontario.

Image Courtesy Dot Bonnenfant
Heritage Paddles

As an aside, Selwyn Dewdney's 1962 publication, Indian Rock Paintings of the Great Lakes is available for full preview on The book is one of the most detailed works on petroglyph art in paddling country and contains many images along with some of their interpretive meanings.

More of Dot's inspirational burnings can be seen on her Facebook Page. For anyone seeking a truly unique paddle gift from a master woodburning artist, the contact info for Heritage Paddles can be found here.

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