Sunday, April 15, 2012

Yellow Birch - McCord Passamaquoddy

After flubbing my Yellow Birch attempt to replicate the c1878 York Sunbury Maliseet Paddle, I ended up with a blade that was a substantially different shape - more narrow and willow leaf-shaped.

New blade design; Very long grip with drip ring carvings
Yellow birch sands to a wonderful creamy finish and the wood can be delicately burned to various shades with controlled pyrography. Instead of trying the curved floral motifs of the original design, the new blade shape reminded me of another Eastern Woodlands paddle I'd been planning to work on - the 19th century Maliseet or Passamaquoddy paddle at the McCord Museum

Eastern Woodlands
 Aboriginal: Maliseet or Passamaquoddy 
 11.4 x 150 cm 
Gift of Mr. Hobart William Molson
McCord Museum

The blade shape wasn't a perfect match and I wanted to use woodburning rather than paint. The original paddle has both green and red painted scrolls, but when trying to replicate these colours using the sepia-toned colors of pyrography, the contrast would be lost. As a fun distraction, I used photoshop to adjust the dimensions of the original paddle to fit my paddle blade and then tinkered with colours to come up with sepia-toned version. For those photoshop techies out there, I ended up using the "replace color" feature on the red scrolls along with the desaturate feature. Now the red scrolls were converted to an off-white and appeared as a nice contrast to the shaded background.

Original blade adjusted; Sepia inverted as the pyrography pattern
Here are some shots of my version. The grip on the original was painted black but I decided to take liberties with this and add some designs:

Blade closeup; Grip Closeup
Completed McCord Passamaquoddy / Maliseet


Bob Holtzman said...

Wonderful! I'm not a fan of illustrated paddles, but I'm cool with abstract designs, and yours are just exquisite. Love this one.

Alli said...

I absolutely love this paddle. Your work is beautiful. I have wanted to make my own paddle for awhile and your designs are inspiring me to get started. Thank-you.

Murat said...

Thanks Bob & Alli. Making your own paddle is so rewarding...I'm sure you'll enjoy the experience and probably not stop at just one. Looking forward to seeing your creation too.

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