Tuesday, April 3, 2018

McCord Museum 19th Century Eastern Woodlands Paddle Replica

Artifact M5470 at the McCord Museum is a beautifully decorated, 19th century paddle. It has been identified as "Eastern Woodlands" (either Passamaquoddy or Maliseet) and features an array of painted double-curve motifs as well as a divided black and white blade tip.

Paddle |  | M5470
Anonyme - Anonymous
Eastern Woodlands
Aboriginal: Maliseet or Passamaquoddy
1875-1900, 19th century
Wood, paint
11.4 x 150 cm
Gift of Mr. Hobart William Molson
M5470
© McCord Museum


Many years ago, I adapted the decorative pattern for a yellow birch paddle with a more narrow blade profile. This time I tried to be true to the original design and replicate with paint and stains despite painting not being my strong suit.

At 150cm (59 inches), the original paddle was already near to my preferred paddle length so adjustments weren't necessary. As before, I had a piece of Yellow Birch stock to use up. Yellow Birch can be unpredictable sometimes when carving or hewing with an axe. This piece went well except for a small bit of tear-out by the throat. As a consequence, I had to use a little bit of Quikwood Epoxy putty to fill in the tear, but most of the damage would eventually be covered by paint.

Epoxy putty repair to throat

I've been experimenting with painting using oil-based Tremclad paints which are available in smaller sample sizes.  Of course the modern formula isn't like traditional oil-based paints used in the 19th century and mixing up authentic batches is beyond my skill set. These rust paints flow thick and harden to a waterproof finish so the paddle can ultimately be oiled rather than varnished. I ended up using some Flat Black, Recreational White (a cream colour), Fire Red and a custom green made by mixing their Yellow with a dark blue spray paint I had on hand.


Painted blade

In addition,  the blade of the original paddle seems to have darkened compared to the shaft. To mimic this effect, I used Minwax Gel Stain (chestnut) after finishing the paint job.

McCord Replica Blade - stained

The shaft was left natural and the whole paddle oiled. Here is the final result...

McCord Museum 19th Century Replica 



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