After all this work, simply varnishing the paddle doesn't seem sufficient so I've tried to stimulate the creative side of my analytical brain to do some artwork on paddles.
At first, I dabbled a bit using acrylics and stencil patterns to paint silhouettes. On my very first paddle from the Canoe Museum workshop I tried a small Heron stencil...not as crisp as I would have liked but it looked better after the varnishing stage.
Later I decided to redecorate a beat-up commercial paddle I heavily use...a no-name poplar cherry laminated ottertail. Sanded off the finish and scuff marks and painted some free-hand artwork between the cherry strips. The pattern is based on old Ottoman Turkish floral motifs including the famed Ottoman Tulip that is found in many mosques and tilework from Turkey. Actually used photos from my 2006 trip to Turkey as inspiration. The shot below is the paddle with a backdrop of river grass from a 2007 spring daytrip on the Upper Gibson River in Muskoka
My real interest however is Pyrography. Burning images, particularly wildlife I've seen on trips has been a bit of motivation for me. I'm also an avid bird-watcher and have been inspired to imbibe each paddle with an avian motif based on some real-life inspiration from nature. I've seen countless Herons, Owls, Loons, Songbirds, Hawks, Falcons, Woodpeckers, etc while paddling in cottage country. I started off this artform with a cheapo pyrography kit ($30 CND) from an art store but outgrew the minimal tip style and inconsistent burning temperature after about 6 paddles. I've since graduated to a more expensive but worthwhile pyrography burner from the Canadian Manufacturer RazorTip...definitely a big difference! To the right is one of my earlier attempts of another Heron on a poplar Penobscot style paddle and a practice piece on a piece of rough poplar stock from which the paddle was carved.
Hope to showcase some more of the pyrography art in future postings