I was even more eager because I had signed up for the MEC Paddlfest back in September of '07. All my paddles were now up at the cottage, so with 7 days until the event that included paddling tutorials by Becky Mason on Classic Solo Style, I wanted to have my own special paddle to try out for the event. So the work began in earnest with minimal time for taking pics. I did manage to get a shot with all the shavings and the completed work.
Not wanting to give up using this canvas, I set out to quickly burn some artwork. The delicate nature of the blade reminded me a hummingbird, so I decided to burn some images of these. I ended up rushing the pyrography job in order to get done before the minimum 24 hours varnishing time need to seal the paddle before use. It wasn't my best work, so I never ended up taking pictures of it.
Off to the event I went on a very chilly fall Saturday. I stuck around for a bit but after some frustration with cancelled workshops, I left the event without even dipping my paddle in the water. The following week, I tried it out at the cottage (with better weather) and thoroughly enjoyed it...my favourite paddle shape + grip combo so far. The paddle then went back into the locker room for a few months. By the time December arrived, I decided the artwork was too amateurish for the blade and decided it was time for an extreme makeover...paddlemaking style.
Using some Circa 1850 varnish remover, I thoroughly scraped away the spar varnish on the blade and then used a Random Orbital Sander I had acquired on sale (at Loblaws no less) with 220grit sanding disk to delicately remove the pyrography. Given that I had rushed with the original art job, the burnings were quite superficial. All this while Toronto experienced its first snowfall. Despite the cooler temps, my Arctic experience and the SW exposed balcony made it comfortable to work in T-Shirt
Instead of repeating the Hummingbird pattern, I instead decided to burn a Kingfisher, a common bird in cottage country. In particular, I recall seeing one resting on a broken larch tree branch overlooking a narrow lake edge. It allowed me to get pretty close before flickering off with their characteristic song, like a teacup rattling on a saucer. The long, narrow shape seemed suited to try a perspective piece, so I tried to re-create that lakeside image.
Burning the image on the dining room table...the blue background is an old beach towel to protect the furniture.
Close up of the Kingfisher and larch branch
I'll have to wait until spring and wamer temperature before I can varnish safely on the well-ventilated balcony, but overall, I'm quite content with this makeover. I've already re-used this technique to refurbish another commercial paddle I bought 2 years ago (and never liked after using it on a trip)...more on that later.
April 17/08 Update: The blade has now been varnished and completed. You can check out the results HERE