Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Chris Fisher's new paddle creations

Archaeologist and paddle maker Chris Fisher (previous posts here) has sent in a few more diagrams and images of his latest paddle creations.

The first is a Sassafras paddle loosely based on the MHS paddle posted on many times before. Chris altered the grip design to his preference and carved some decorative rings around the grip base and throat.

Chris F's Sassafras Paddle

Blade and Grip Closeups

Chris mentioned his error of carving the throat area too thin so the paddle has excessive flex for his liking.  I've got a sassafras paddle nearly complete with just a 1" thick shaft so won't be too surprised about the flex when it gets water tested in the spring.

Having said that, Rick Waters' article "The North Woods Paddle" in Wooden Boat Magazine (Issue #67, November/December 1985) mentioned having a 1" thick shaft with these ash paddles precisely for the flex utilized in with the North Woods stroke or when paddling standing up.

Chris also carved a custom basswood ottertail from a combination of designs - a mix of  traditional and modern makers. It weighs 22.8 ounces with a blade length of 28.4" and an overall length of 60".

Custom Basswood ottertail

Blade and Grip Closeups

The lower portion of the grip has an interesting hand motif that Chris chose as his maker's mark related to his archaeological background...

The motif comes from a famous Mississippian site called Moundville in Alabama and is believed to be a transformation symbol - helping a shaman move between realms - or a representation of that happening.  The bar and dot numbering system is common throughout Central and South America. A bar is five, a dot is one, and a shell is zero. The two bars and 4 dots on Chris's signature mark tallies up to 14 (meaning 2014) which is when he first started carving the paddle. Fascinating and creative stuff!

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