The grip still needs some additional shaping and serious sanding to even out irregularities and tool marks, but overall it feels quite comfortable. The top is just nice enough to fit my broad palm and the ribbed grip sections are just the perfect width for my hands for using the northwoods stroke. Noticed afterward that the grain of the grip section seemed to curve right at the location of the rippled bumps, only to straighten again in the flat sections between - sort of like a neat contour line effect on a topo map.
Grip nearly complete
Despite not fully completing the grip, I got impatient and eagerly began decorating the blade. I first wanted to add a pyrographic version of the old copper tip protectors mentioned in a previous post. Around the blade remaining blade circumference, a basic chip carving motif was added. In the center of the blade, I ended up replicating another scroll pattern taken from Frank G. Speck's Double-Curve Motive in Northeastern Algonkian Art. Given that the this paddle design seems to have evolved from Abenaki / Penobscot origins, it seemed appropriate to use some Penobscot designs from Figure 4 of Speck's publication.
Penobscot Scroll Pattern
Pencil sketched decoration
Now I just need to find some time to do the actual woodburning. The dark pattern should contrast nicely with the pale maple wood.
UPDATE - April 19/2010 - Decoration finished - Part 3 has posted here