Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Peter Polchies Ash Malecite Replica - Part 2

The ash Malecite I'd been carving was sanded down and ready for some decoration. For this one, the intention was to replicate the pattern from one of Tappan Adney's famous sketches of Malecite Paddles...specifically the model on the left.


Adney's sketches of Peter Polchies' carved paddles

Adney's scribbled notes mention that the paddles were made by "Doctor" Peter Polchies for a Lt. Col. Herbert Dibble. Curious to learn more, I found out that Dibble was a famous resident of Woodstock, New Brunswick. His full name was Frederick Herbert Jarvis Dibble which would explain the initials F.H.J.D. inscribed on the grip.

Lt.Col. Dibble is also mentioned in passing in Adney's text, Bark Canoes and Skin Boats of North America on page 75...
"One of the later developments took place on the St. John River, in New Brunswick, where two Indians, Jim Paul and Peter Polchies, both of St. Marys, in 1888 built for a Lt. Col. Herbert Dibble of Woodstock the racing canoe illustrated above (fig. 66)..."
I can't seem to date Adney's sketches and there isn't mention of date the paddles were made but it seems plausible that they were carved to accompany this Malecite racing canoe which would date them to 1888.

The paddle I was replicating featured a recurrent vine motif as well as images of a cow moose and a hunter. Ruth Phillips' book, Trading identities: the souvenir in Native North American art from the Northeast mentions that many paddles were carved with basic scenes such as hunters, game animals, equipment. In this way, these paddles might be similar to the Malecite Paddles ones in the British Museum featuring similar "vignettes" of native life.

After free handing the image as best I could, the design was burned in with my pyrography unit. This was the first time I've done any woodburning decorating with ash - not really the greatest wood for pyrography. The open grain structure and relative hardness of the wood makes it burn very inconsistently and the result is quite a speckled and splotchy look. In the end it worked since the original sketch diagram wasn't crispy clean either. Instead of Lt. Col. Dibble's initials originally scribed onto the grip, I ended up burning my son's initials to give this paddle a little more sentimental value. Here are some shots.


Replica Blade and Modified Grip


Peter Polchies Replica Paddle



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