Sunday, January 26, 2014

Peabody Museum - Green Bladed Decorated Paddle

Superb blogger of Indigenous Boats, Bob Holtzman, has posted some personal photos of canoe-related exhibits at Harvard University's Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology.

Included in this display are some wonderful closeups of a favourite paddle design I've always wanted to see with my own eyes. It has served as the inspiration for my own cherry interpretations (posts here and here). It looks to the be the paddle illustrated in fig. 72 of  Bark Canoes and Skin Boats of North America. Adney sketched 1/2 of the blade pattern, included some dimensions and identified the paddle as a 71" long (180cm), maple wood Passamaquoddy dated to 1849.

Fig 72: Adney and Chappelle
Bark Canoes and Skin Boats of North America

Despite the difficulty in photographing dimly lit museum pieces behind glass, Bob was able to get some shots of the paddle on display.

Image Credit: Bob Holtzman

Image Credit: Bob Holtzman

The paddle was captioned with the following info...

 "The blade of this elaborately decorated paddle is painted green. The double-curve design was executed by removing the paint while it was still wet. The stepped motif and crosshatching are suggestive of Penobscot or Passamaquoddy manufacture. The handle exhibits graceful carving and shows much indication of use." 

Until now, the only photo of this paddle I've seen was the official museum pic showcasing the white scroll design on the blade.

Canoe paddle, elaborately decorated. Blade painted green, double curve motif.  
Peabody Number: 99-12-10/53655 
Dimensions: Length: 180.5 cm, Width: 17.6 cm, Dep: 3.3 cm
Provenance: Donor: Heirs of David Kimball (1899)

Closer inspection reveals that that scroll pattern of the official pic and the display model are different. Now I'm wondering if the paddle is painted on both sides with slightly different scrolled patterns or if the museum has 2 distinct paddles in their collection.

Back in 2010, Bob also sent links and photos to some paddles at the University of Maine's Hudson Museum. It included a paddle with an attractive, segmented style grip.

Image Credit: Bob Holtzman

Thinking the next paddle project (if it ever gets going) will be to replicate the Peabody museum paddle blade with the Hudson Museum grip style. A similar attempt in Sassafras was attempted in the summer of 2012 but if you follow through the posts you'll know it ended up in failure with a snapped shaft.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Rare Omer Stringer Paddling Video

Came across the strange video postings of Vimeo User Kind Eyez which feature some reworked footage of flatwater paddling master, Omer Stringer. I've never seen action footage of the Algonquin Park legend before so these video experiments are a real treat, despite the funky soundtrack and optical effects.

Here's the first clip showcasing a basic cruise in Omer's heeled position. Although tough on the knees, this is the type of paddling is what I find most relaxing and actually comfortable for the back.

This next vid has some slow motion capture of Omer's famed "C stroke" used to power his custom build cedar canvas design.

Back in '08, I made a Yellow Birch paddle based on the blade design from Omer's little booklet, The Canoeist's Manual. It used to be sold for a the amazing low price of 1 Canadian Dollar but the cost of living has made this little gem go up $2.

The Canoeist's Manual - Omer Stringer

The booklet is filled with black and white photos of paddling techniques and includes dimensional info for Omer's favourite paddle design. It looks to be identical to the cherry paddle used in the video.

Omer also used a custom cedar canvas canoe based on the Chestnut Chum design. Issue 25 (Winter 1986) Wooden Canoe, the Journal of the WCHA, has an article which described Omer's custom boat. Here's an excerpt...

"Omer's canoe is also unique. He began with a 15-foot Chestnut Chum, built in New Brunswick. When it was under construction, he asked that the cedar plank-and-rib shell be left without inwales, thereby allowing him to vary the sheer line after the shell was removed from the form. He then increased the depth of the canoe to 15 inches and reduced the bow height by 1-1/2 inches. With weights, he rounded out the ribs in the center of the canoe slightly. This rounding produced a canoe that was deeper and a bit more tender and maneuverable than the original Chum."

Today, this canoe is hanging in the Algonquin Park visitor's Centre (km 43)'s the faded red one.

Photo Credit: Andre Cloutier from WCHA Forums

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Historic Paddle Illustration: D.C. Beard - BoatBuilding and boating (1911) has a free online edition of Boat-building and boating (1911) by Daniel Carter Beard. Chapter VI features bark canoe construction. The images look to be replicas of Adney's famous sketches and are quite detailed. On page 60 is a crude sketch of some paddles with rough dimensions. The only detailed provided  is a brief caption posted below:
Paddles are made of rock maple, and sometimes of birch and even cedar. Bow paddles are usually longer and narrower in the blade than stern paddles (Fig. 101).

Monday, January 6, 2014

Historic Paddle Art: John Buxton - Night Rain

A few years back, I posted an artist profile on John Buxton. Much of John's work feature birch bark canoes and images of various paddle shapes and decorations. He is still very much actively painting wonderful historic images. Here is a new 2013 piece entitled "Night Rain" which features 2 prominent canoe paddles with painted decoration and distinct grip styles.

John Buxton (1939-)
Night Rain
Oil on linen -2013
30.48 x 22.86 cm
(12" x 9")
Collection of the Artist

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