Thursday, May 17, 2012

c1878 York Sunbury Maliseet Replica: Part 1

Another paddle is in the works. For a few months now, I've been intending to replicate the c1878 Maliseet Paddle from the York Sunbury Museum...see posts here, here, and here.

c1878 York Sunbury Maliseet Paddle

Unfortunately (or fortunately depending on how you look at it), I made a carving error with yellow birch stock that was originally sourced for this paddle. Instead, I ended up with a custom design influenced by the Maliseet / Passamaquoddy paddle at the McCord Museum.

Luckily, another board of Yellow Birch was on hand and I ended up chopping out the rough outline with the axe. Given the pressure of using up my last yellow birch board, I didn't end up taking pics of the chopping process (most readers have seen enough of those pics I'm sure.) Unlike last time, this board was much easier to work with an axe,  spokeshave and crooked knife without tear out and catastrophic results. After working out the general shape without wrecking the blank and cleaning up the paddle with the spokeshave, the following pic just after Toronto received a paltry speckling of wet snow that was typical of this year's "winter" in the city.

The backyard workshop

Over the next few weeks, the paddle was worked on whenever time and weather permitted. The board stock for this one was originally 6/4 which meant that the paddle started off a little thicker than the usual 5/4 boards I source out. A decision was made to leave the shaft oval shaped rather than round like is usually done with my other creations. Furthermore, the last few paddles have been  thinned and carved to be very flexible as users. Since the original highly-ornamented paddle was likely for ceremonial purposes and not for daily usage, it was  decided to leave  it a little thicker than usual and maintain  a bit more stiffness than what I usually prefer in my user paddles.

Springtime in the backyard workshop

Here's a shot of the wetted paddle. A little bit more scraping to remove the raised grain and she'll be set for the beginning of the decoration phase.

Luc Poitras, a fellow paddle carver, emailed  a question about the woodburning equipment I use so in the future update, I'll be sure to include details and pics of the equipment and technique.

This weekend is a holiday here in Canada and the marks the unofficial start to the canoeing season. We're heading up north as well where my canoes will finally hit the water after a winter of hibernation storage. Hoping to test this one out and get some pics of my last few paddles as well.

Sept 1, 2012 UPDATE: Part 2 has been posted online

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