Working on the paddle the night my older son was born (2008)
For that reason, that paddle has always been linked to my firstborn so I decided to commemorate the occasion by decorating the other side with a height marker, images of his little hands, feet and some important milestones (see that full post here). It has become a bit of family tradition to take the paddle off the wall on his birthday and burn on his new height before eating the cake.The cherry wood has darkened in the past 6 years and now the "little guy" has grown up to the base of the grip on this 58" paddle.
The decorated blade
With the recent birth of our 2nd child, I decided to refurbish another cherry paddle with a similar height marker. This Cherry Guide paddle is actually the favourite all-around paddle design I've carved and this paddle has accompanied me on many excursions. You can see it in action in a few of my Youtube videos, like the daytrip to the Limberlost Wilderness Preserve.
Decorated and Plain sides of the Cherry Guide paddle
While not exactly the same design as the original heirloom paddle, they were both carved from the same stock of cherry and have the identical blade shape. Basically the two paddles are close enough to be "siblings" so thought this would be appropriate for little brother. This paddle has been heavily oiled over the years, but fortunately that process still permits some pyrography to be added later - another reason why I prefer oiling to varnish. The woodburning tips need to be at higher heat than unfinished wood and this causes them to collect a burnt residue needing frequent pausing to clean, so the process is slow but satisfactory. Just as last time, a metal straight edge was clamped to the paddle to burn the centre line and the inch markers.
Marking off and burning the lines
Previously, I used an old scanner to get a digital image of my older son's hands & feet. The old scanner is broken so to get a realistic-sized copy of our newborn's hands and feet, I pressed his hands against a pane of glass, took a photo, and used Photoshop to render the image into "photocopy" mode as the starting point for the burn.
The images were slowly burned onto the blade along with his birth details and now little brother has an heirloom paddle of his own.
Little brother's paddle details
Managed to take a shot of us practicing a paddle stroke with his future paddle on dry land.
June 22, 2015 Update: The two heirloom paddles have been temporarily retired from active tripping and are now on the wall waiting for the kids to grow up. See post HERE