The blank last fall
Graham Warren's book mentions the importance of bookmatching the panels on laminated paddles to maintain a symmetrical look, but I was more interested in using up the offcuts to minimize wood wastage and I didn't really pay much attention to this approach. Given that the cherry was cut from the same board anyway, I assumed there would be a natural symmetry.
When carving down the blade however, some light coloured streaks of heartwood began to show - so light that the normally amber toned cherry looks as pale as the basswood strips on either side of the central shaft. Not so bad on the first side, but on the other, it gives the illusion of an uneven blade. Purely cosmetic of course but this non symmetrical look makes the whole thing look somewhat flawed.
Uneven grain pattern on blade
I decided to decorate the blade and grip in a manner that would offset this visual blemish and ended up with another birding image, this one of an American Kestrel (Sparrow Hawk). These diminutive little birds have a colourful coat of feathers which I tried to replicate with various shades and textures. Some freehand leaves and branches were added as accents. Varnishing will have to wait until the weather warms up again.
Kestrel Image on the blade; Leaves on the grip
The unvarnished paddle