Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Smithsonsian Chippewa Woman's Paddle

A photo update regarding a previous post from 2012 showcasing a paddle image and description of a Chippewa woman's canoe paddle.

Bureau of American Ethnology
BULLETIN 86 - Chippewa Customs
Plate 53

The original caption:
The specimen illustrated is a woman's canoe paddle (pl. 53, a) and is 4 feet 10 inches long, with blade 22 inches long and 4 1/4 inches wide. A man's paddle is usually heavier, longer, and of a somewhat different shape...

The Smithsonian has the original b&w photo used for the publication. The archive record mentions the photo is dated to 1914...

Title: Canoe paddle (left) and snow shovel (right)
Provenance: Submitted by Frances Densmore.
Culture: Chippewa, Ojibwa Indians
Local Number: NAA INV 9277300
OPPS NEG 596 D 79

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Canadian Carry Portage Pad

An article from Field and Stream,  March 1993 currently available on Google Books shows a custom pad made for cushioning the shoulders when using the "Canadian Carry" method of lashing paddles for a portage yoke. It looks like one of those airline pillows some folks use to support their necks while sleeping upright.

I've got plenty of scrap canvas leftover from the summer tarp project. Should be pretty simple to stitch something like this together and give it whirl...

Friday, March 10, 2017

"N.S. Graves" Antique Birdseye Paddle

On March 25, 2017,  John McInnis Auctioneers will be hosted their 3-Day Spring Estates Auction. Lot 0604 is a 63 inch Birdseye Maple paddle which looks to be in very good condition. Unfortunately there is no date attributed to the paddle, but it does feature a unique carved grip. Indented into the wood at the base is the name "N.S. Graves."

Birdseye maple 
Length 63 inches

Carved handle

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Luke McNair's Wabanaki Style Canoe

Here's a wonderful update from skilled craftsman Luke McNair. Back in 2015, Luke was ambitiously building a Wabanaki style canoe using canvas as a substitute for birchbark (see full post HERE).

Well the canoe has been completed for a while now and put through some rigorous testing, including some coastal ocean paddling, river poling and even a white water race course. Luke was kind enough to send in some photos of his unique canoe in action...

Wow. Such inspirational stuff! It also seems a canoe building addiction might have begun as Luke is planning construction of another boat very soon. Looking forward to hearing all about it.

Friday, March 3, 2017

Logan Museum c1900 Odawa Replica

My next paddle replica was based on a circa 1900 Odawa paddle in the Logan Museum of Anthropology.

Odawa Canoe Paddle
Length: 136.5cm
Blade width: 10cm
Source: The Art of the Great Lakes Indians.
Flint, Mich.: Flint Institute of Arts, 1973. p. 98

The original paddle was relatively short (approx 54") with a blade width of just under 4". It has some simple etchings on the upper portion of the blade along with a small grip that features a triangular cutout and slightly worn decorative point on the top.

For my version in sassafras, I adjusted the proportions to make a functional paddle at my preferred length of 58". Also made the grip a tiny bit larger to fit my bulky hands and slightly exaggerated the decorative pointed tip. Below is the photo of when the carving stage was finished back in the early fall.

Here's the paddle prior to the final sanding along with a closeup of the grip. At this stage the tiny triangular cutout on the grip face was not cut out.

The Logan Museum now has updated their online collections catalog to feature colour photos of the paddle along with a useful zoom feature to see the etchings at a higher resolution. Turns out the etchings feature triple lines with the outer cuts containing traces of red paint. The pattern contains a slightly different mix of diamond, heart and other abstract motifs on each side of the blade.

The detailed color versions on the Museum's online collection page shows that the area below the etchings has also been darkened with some sort of greyish surface paint. Painting just isn't my thing so I decided to try another full propane torch burn while leaving the area of the etchings untouched to take advantage of the muted golden hue of sassafras.

On a mild winters day, I took the paddle outside and carefully charred the surface...

Fortunately, this paddle didn't warp like the failed Sassafras Cree paddle back in the summer. For the central untouched areas, I added some mild shading to make the pyrography patterns stand out a bit. Here is the final result after oiling...

c1900  Logan Museum  Odawa Replica

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