From that large cherry stock I wrote about in the last post, I was able to carve out two paddle blanks. Here they are posing on the balcony with Toronto's skyline and the Don Valley in the background. The left one is the Maliseet style I wrote about already (58 inch) and the other is a shorter one (54 inch) I've dubbed the "Fusion Paddle" on account of its different native styles.
I was intrigued by the write-up on the early Mi'kmaq shaped blade described in Adney's Book as well as documented in Doug Ingram's great page on Historic Canoe Paddles The shape was reminiscient of a spearhead and looked exotic though I wasnt't too keen on maintaining historical accuracy and using a simple pole grip. So I decided on a style that would complement the look of the blade...a Northwest Coast Nootka style roll grip.
The grip started off as an elongated triangle after which I used a round rasp to scrape two grooves about 1.25 inchs down from the top of the grip. This left a roughly rectanglar top that could be shaped into an octagon much like shaping the shaft. I could've been technical about it an drew measuring lines like the shaft but figured it was an easy job to eyeball. The rough profile of the grip (before sanding to a slightly oval roll) is pictured on the left.
I also scooped out the area below the roll with a spokeshave leaving a confortable cambered section for the palm to rest. It looks quite thick and bulky but seems to fit my hands well and that is what custom paddle making is all about. Now I was left with the decorating inspiration.
Generally I burn wildlife imagery I've seen on paddling trips, but the blade shape and overall design wasn't inspiring me to do that this time. While searching the net for various aboriginal style art inspiration, I came across this amazing site describing Captain Cook's impression of Maori paddles when he "discovered" New Zealand. One such paddle, though faded with age, has a distinguishable negative-image painted scroll pattern (kowhaiwhai) and is on display at The Hancock Museum, Newcastle upon Tyne
The pattern seemed suitable for pyrography as it simply required a dark burning at one temperature. Using the computer scans of the paddle blank and Photoshop, I was able to stretch the Maori image to fit the different blade shape and handle on my paddle. After transfering the pattern with carbon paper (too complicated to do freehand), all that was left was to do the burning which took a total of about about 6 hours. Here are some final shots:
Obviously this paddle is a bit of a showpiece, but I could't resist taking it out on the lake and pretending to be part of native solo war party. The tapering tip of the blade coupled with high shoulders makes it quite fluttery in the water and not very powerful, but the grip was more comfortable than I had expected. My Fusion paddle is now on display in a prime location at the cottage and will only be used if I'm in the mood to spear something.