Thursday, June 19, 2008

17th Century Kayak Paddle Replica - Part 3

I've been steadily working on the 17th Century Kayak Paddle Replica begun at the beginning of May. The blades have all been shaved down to the appropriate thickness and the oval shaped shaft has been sanded down. With the paddle wetted and re-sanded, it was time to begin the decoration.

Shaving completed; Wetting the grain

The group requesting this for their retiring principal wanted a loon image. Basswood is a fantastic wood for pyrography and its light colour and tight grain mean a great contrast with darkened tones. Here's the loon image I came up with...

Loon image on one blade

For the other blade, the group decided on an inspirational quote which was expanded to appropriate size using the Monotype Corsiva font on MS Word. I wish I could free hand, but I'm no Calligrapher. I'm embarassed to say I had no idea who the author of the quote was (Harvey Firestone, founder of Firestone Tire Co.) but my excuse is that I spend more time paddling on the water than driving all day on premium brand rubber tires.

The group's inspirational quote

After varnishing with 5 coats of Glossy Minwax® Helmsman® Spar Urethane (sanding between each coat with 0000 Fine Steel Wool) I used some tan coloured leather lace to tie 3-lead-5-bight decorative Turk’s Head knots for drip rings. These were sealed in place with a little more varnish to prevent the leather from swelling when it gets wet.

The unvarnished and varnished pics

Leather Turk's Head drip ring - unvarnished

Kind of interesting given my Turkish heritage that absolutely no one in Turkey has worn a turban since 1826. That year, Sultan Mahmut II banned the turban as a symbol of growing religious authority and replaced it with the more "modern" Fez which in turn was later banned by Ataturk as a symbol of corrupt feudalism of the Ottoman era. Today only tacky tourists and traditional ice cream vendors in touristy areas walk around with these scarlet monstrosities. On my last visit to the homeland back in '06, I spent some quality peaceful time exploring neglected Ottoman graveyards that were off the tourist trail. Ottoman headstones are amazing works of art with elaborate stone carvings written in the poetic (but now a forgotten old Ottoman Script). I had been studying Ottoman Turkish for about a year before my trip just so I could translate the various inscriptions all over Istanbul. Interesting that each headstone is decorated with replicas of the the headgear of the deceased as a sign of rank and position in society. You could tell who died before 1826 (Turbaned gravestone) with those who passed away after (Fezzed headstones) with those who died in the Republican era (Plain grave marker). If anyone cares to know, there's a Flickr Group devoted to this esoteric artform called Mezar Taslari with some interesting shots submitted by members.

Anyway, I digress...Designing and working on this paddle has been a rewarding experience, especially since it was commissioned for a well deserving recipient who'll hopefully enjoy it during his retirement.

Posing with the work before it's off to its new owner

By the way, if any reader cares to read the previous postings on this paddle, check out Part 1 and Part 2.

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