Saturday, February 26, 2011

Paddling Themed Nook Case

A while back I posted a writeup about the Nook eReader I purchased. It's been a fantastic way to read some classic literature and canoe related adventures. My intention is to take this lightweight device on some paddling trips for those rainy / lazy days where you want to read in camp.

As a winter project, thought I would try my hand at creating a leather case that would serve to protect the device in a basic way (although it would certainly be stored in a waterproof drybag during trips). With some leather scraps I had on hand, ended up using a vertical flip top style case that seems to work nicely.

A piece of leather was wet molded around the Nook and then stitched to a sturdy backing. I made a slight measurement error so the front piece isn't perfectly symmetrical and my handstitching is sloppy too but this isn't meant to be a masterpiece.

Molded leather front; Pieces stitched together

Along with some rivets in the corners, I used a mystery braid technique to make a piece that runs across the top of the device. Another scrap piece of suede was reused by glueing it to the back and this allows the Nook to slide in nicely will protecting the back from scuffs. In addition, I cemented a scrap piece of open cell foam that came from some packaging a while back...nice to reuse this stuff instead of just throwing it away. With the cover folded down, the foam protects the screen adequately.

Suede and foam inserts; Device in the case

The fun part was deciding on how to decorate the cover. Of course it had to be a canoeing theme and I decided to replicate one of the illustrations from Thomas Sedgwick Steele's 1882 classic, Paddle and Portage. The image is entitled "Sunrise on Echo Lake" and it seemed to be the perfect one to try and burn with pyrography. I modified the original a bit by foregoing the image of the rifle (don't paddle with firearms) and added some lashings to the gunwales as well as some gummed seams to the hull so that it somewhat resembled my own birchbark canoe.

Burning the image

I tried my hand at tooling by wetting the leather a bit and attempted to bring out the image by stamping some of the image to create "waves" on the lake. Didn't turn out to well and frankly, I don't like the constant pounding needed for leather tooling...not relaxing at all. To secure the cover flap, some remnant latigo lace was woven into a 3-ply braid and secured in a figure 8 pattern. All I need to do is gently pull the knotted ends outwards and it holds the flap in place nicely

Completed Canoe Case

Might seemed odd that I ended up making a totally rustic case for a modern electronic device, but when you're desperate to go canoeing, you come up with some wonky ideas.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Family Day Canoe "Trip"

This past Monday was a holiday here in Ontario, the so-called "Family Day Long Weekend" so we spent the brief break up at our cottage in Huntsville. Lots of winter fun was to be had outdoors, but my boy was enamoured with the bark canoe model made back in '08 that is now decorating the wall.

He wanted to take it out for an imaginary canoe trip throughout the place and loaded up the 3 foot, 1/4 scale model with a mini bark basket, his mini cherry paddle and two of his stuffed toys, Colin and Todd from the Monster Factory (a cute stuffed toy company started by a family friend).

Prepping for the trip

After lots of pushing and pretend paddling all over the kitchen, the bedroom, and the main floor, the bark canoe is no worse for wear. If these craft can handle the vigorous play of 2 1/2 year old and survive, they aren't nearly as delicate as people think.

Colin and Todd have taken up their positions in the canoe as part of the wall display ready for the next trip...

Unfortunately the Wilderness Canoe Association's annual symposium was also held this weekend and would've been a welcome canoe-related distraction. Thankfully, Mike O posted a thorough synopsis on his blog about the event.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Paul Provencher - Coureur du Bois Paddles

Paul Provencher was a forester in the Quebec and Labrador country on the north shore of the St. Lawrence river. He traveled extensively with native guides and eventually wrote a book entitled, I Live In The Woods . It's a great little book of personal recollections and woodland lore complete with sketches by the author. Included amongst the many diagrams of bushcraft skills like trapping, snowshoe making, wilderness survival is a brief section on canoes & paddles.

Here is a sketch of Provencher's preferred paddle design, certainly influenced by the Innu designs local to his region.

His write up:
"Long, narrow paddles, such as the North Shore canoe paddle illustrated here, are much better in rapids. Wide paddles are too hard on the fellow who has done a hard day’s work and are of no use in rapids as they are too apt to split. Besides, they cannot be relied upon for poling purposes. An extra paddle should always be carried along and kept on hand in case of emergency. If a man is alone when going up rapids, he should also place an extra pole near him."

Some more sketches show the paddle profile while illustrating his method of portaging using a tumpline to carry packs and a fully assembled reflector oven

Provencher also details the Montagnais method of prepping a canoe for the portage. It includes using a canoe tumpline and lashed paddles which are uniquely crossed before being secured onto a thwart

Montagnais Tying Method

His write up on the topic:
In packing a canoe, the best canoe-carriers of the Manicouagan and the Moisie Rivers just cross the paddles and tie them on top of the front bar. They then pass the tumpline over the blades at the middle bar. To judge the distance from the bottom of the canoe to the tumpline they measure a handspread upright.

Other carriers prefer to put the paddles parallel. If you wish to carry an extra packsack with the canoe, I suggest the Montagnais method of crossed paddles, as it gives you more room to put the bag and the blades of the paddles are not in your way. With parallel paddles most of the weight rests on the crest of the shoulders while, in the Montagnais way, the weight rests on top of the arms. Other advantages of this method are that the tumpline is more comfortably loose and it is much easier to load the canoe on the shoulders or to set it back on the ground. When the tumpline is too short, “canoe bumps,” as they are called, are apt to develop.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Eva Morrison Paddle Pic

Blog reader Chris G recently emailed a great vintage photo showing some well-to-do dressed men in a beached canoe posing behind a woman on shore. Unfortunately, Chris didn't remember the source but the photo certainly peaked my interest and I've spent some time trying to dig up more info about this curious scene. Turns out the photo is from the U.S. Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division (no copyright restrictions) and is from 1935.

Repository: Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division, Washington, D.C. 20540 USA,
Rights Info: No known restrictions on publication.
Call Number: LC-B2- 2200-11

The woman is Eva Belle Morrison was a long distance swimmer who attempted to cross the English Channel multiple times and won some local endurance swimming competitions. I'm assuming the paddlers in the canoe are her "support team" who likely would paddle by her side for the duration of her swim and not just some bathing beauty "gawkers" as I first assumed...the expression of the sternsman just seemed creepy to me.

Since my wife is the avid swimmer and I'm the paddler, I think this photo just gave me some inspiration for new way for us to spend time together!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Alain Crozon's "Kiki Paddle"

Paddlemaking Blog reader Alain Crozon from France sent me a email documenting his homemade "KiKi" paddle. The many uses of its unique blade shape are illustrated by Alain's accompanying cartoon below. Very creative!

Alain's homemade paddle

Friday, February 11, 2011

Another Crooked Knife Project

Over the winter, I've been working on another smaller project...another attempt at a crooked knife from a file. My first attempt is still very functional, but prolonged use like in carving the bushcraft spruce paddle from the summer left my wrist quite sore. Many crooked knives I've seen have dramatically angled blades (nearly 45 degrees to the plane of the handle) and this seems to ease wrist strain while allowing for the skewing cut of the knife to delicately shave off wood. Below are some examples I had pulled from the net somewhere.

While back in Turkey visiting family in '09, I had stumbled across a perfect crook in an Olive Tree branch from my Great Uncle's abandoned property. It seemed to match my hand perfectly and even had an indent for the thumb-rest from a healed branch wound. The piece was cutoff and brought home and gradually shaped into a a leaner handle.

A broken branch crook; Fit my hand nicely

Shaping the handle

The blade was made from another old file (this time with an angle grinder and cutting disk) and after a little amateur blacksmithing, an offset tang was bent into shape. For this one, I decided not to bend the tip of the blade up as my intentions for this knife are for softwood shaving for paddle blades and cedar canoe ribs & sheathing.

The Blade

A slot was carved into the top of the handle to fit the tang. This was all trial and error until it sat nicely in the wood.

Tang slot carved

The handle was whipped tightly with waxed linen thread and everything is nice and secure. For the decoration, I wanted to leave as much of the handle bare as there were some nice grain patterns in the olive wood. Along the edges of the thumbrest, I burned a chip carved pattern.

Decoration Burned

Here is the completed knife all oiled up and ready to go...

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Historic Illustration - Iroquois Elm Canoe and Paddles

League of the Ho-dé-no-sau-nee or Iroquois, the work of Lewis Henry Morgan (1818-1881) has sketches of typical Iroquoian artifacts ranging from clothing to weapons to baskets. Volume III includes a write up on the elm bark canoes used by this tribe as well as an illustration.

Elm Bark Canoe

The image dates from 1849 and clearly illustrates the crimped bark of this type of craft, equipped with paddles for a crew of six. Some of the paddles have the decorations on them, simple cross hatched patterns with other carved figures, likely the personal marks of the owner. Here are some closeups.

Marked Paddles - Man with staff/club?

Horse Decoration?

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Hazen Maliseet Paddles

Page 60 of Trading identities: the souvenir in Native North American art from the Northeast by Ruth B. Phillips (available partially online through Google Books) has some great pics of historic Maliseet carved paddles.

The black & white images show closeups of the blade decorations; the first paddle featuring a familiar double curved motif while the second a pictorial representation of a sporting camp scene.

Excerpt from her book...
2.7 a,b Two of four canoe paddles (details) commissioned by Frank Hazen from Maliseet carvers, c. 1880. Fig. 2.7a displays traditional double-curve motifs, while 2.7b displays an innovative pictorial vignette of a sporting camp scene, which would have been appreciated by touristic collectors but generally rejected by turn-of-the-century ethnological collectors.

I find the traditional curved etchings much more pleasing and remembered that I had seen this pattern before. A post from October 2009 featuring Rick Nash's gorgeous cherry Maliseet paddle seems to be a replica of this pattern.

Rick Nash paddle
Woodland Heirlooms

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

circa 1900 Adirondack Paddle

Thanks to the winter storm hitting my region today (which really isn't that bad in my opinion), my workplace has cancelled all classes...this means a SNOW DAY and a chance to post another paddle picture. This one is from February's "Current Items" page at the Cherry Gallery which features a nice looking Adirondack paddle.

Looks like it has already sold. The details from their site...
Adirondack Guide Boat Paddle
This guide boat paddle has a characteristic elaborately carved diamond-motif handle and a long, narrow blade. The front of the blade is painted with the four playing card suits - perhaps the guide was a gambler...
Circa 1900
5" w, 58.5” h

The carved motif area below the circular grip adds a nice decorative flair to whole piece. Here's another angled shot showing this interesting Adirondack feature.

Diamond Motif on grip

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