Thursday, January 31, 2013

Vaillancourt Trade Canoes

Came across a webpage in French (Thorvald Adventure) that featured pics of a Fur Trade camp re-enactment using some beautiful bark canoes made by Henri Vaillancourt. Some of the pics show the long voyageur paddle designs. ...

Vaillancourt's beautiful Rabaska (Canot du Nord) on Left;  Algonkian style on right

Paddling the Algonkian style 

The merry crew paddling away 

 Large Avant's (Bowman's) paddle

Large Gouvernail (steersman) paddle

Monday, January 28, 2013

Historic Canoe Poling Art: Harry Fenn

Here is an amazing piece of art from Illustrator Harry Fenn (1845 – 1911). It features some scenes of Moosehead Lake region in Maine.

The center piece is a fantastic image a Guide poling a bark canoe up the river while the Sport tries his luck fishing. Really like the detail on the canoe and the vivid portrayal of the rapids. The Guide is leaning on his pole hard (note the flex in the pole) and the artist has really captured the muscling power it takes to hold the canoe steady.

Closeup: Poling up the Moose River

Similar illustrations of the region can be found in Hubbard's 1883 publication Woods and lakes of Maine and Thomas Sedgwick Steele's 1882 publication, Canoe and camera .

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Etched Coast Salish Canoe Paddle

An unusual Coastal Salish paddle from the University of British Columbia Museum of Anthropology. There are some decorative scrimshaw etchings on both sides of the blade and grip area including a date of 1936.

Coast Salish:  Musqueam
Object Number: Nbz911
Image © UBC Museum of Anthropology
Photographed by Jessica Bushey

Here is more info according to the webpage:
The paddle has carvings on both  sides of the handle and paddle. One side has the year 1936 carved on the handle and a salmon motif surrounded by floral designs on the paddle. The other side has a floral design on the handle and the letters BC surrounded by floral designs on the paddle. The carvings look like scrimshaw with the etchings filled with ink to stand out. The handle has a 20 cm cord tied around it. 
The Paddle was used to paddle British royalty in 1936 in New Westminster. It is also part of a larger collection of objects honouring Maggie Pointe, sister of Shane Pointe and Gina Grant. On February 1, 2003, it was used for a memorial potlatch at Musqueam to honour the life  of Maggie Pointe and was then given away, as is the custom, to the UBC Museum of Anthropology. On March 18, 2003 it was featured in the exhibit "To Wash Away the Tears," a collaboration between Shane, Gina, MOA and the students of the Critical Curatorial Studies MA program.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Canoe Camp Stool Project

One of the winter projects I've been working on is a folding, portable camp stool - something that would fit easily into my Woods 200 pack. Ended up inspired by this online tutorial from  Wood & Faulk...

Wood & Faulk Camp Stool

Although I didn't have the exact hardware as the tutorial, some other usable bits were found that worked adequately (3" long, 1/4" carriage bolt with wing nut; 3/16th eye bolt & wingnut). The legs were made from some left over 1-1/4" dowels that were collecting dust in the basement. 2 of the legs in my version are poplar, the remaining leg an older piece of red oak. The assembly pictures & instructions are very clear in the original online tutorial so didn't take pics of those steps.

I don't usually carry a camp chair when paddling but thought this might be a nice compromise. When it's not in use on trips, I plan to use it to do some carving in the backyard. However, instead of using the original tutorial design of bolting the seat permanently to the legs, I wanted a more flexible solution that would also allow just the seat to be removed. Another online tutorial from Willow Haven Outdoors incorporated a design with folded ends where the legs fit by simple friction. This way, as a lighter option,  just the seat could taken with legs fashioned in camp from thick branches lashed together.

I had a nice piece of tooling leather left over from other projects that just fit the bill and fashioned a simple triangular design for the seat on the underside of the leather

Folding legs rigged up and leather template of seat

Kind of got lazy here and decided to use my surplus of copper rivets to secure the end flaps rather than stitching...

Ends folded over and riveted

The test run for the camp stool worked and supports my ever growing weight, but the plain leather seat was just calling out to be decorated....

The basic design

Similar to the Nook eReader case I made back in 2011, I ended up burning a canoe related theme to the seat - this one influenced by my new attempts at canoe poling. The image is from the 1941 etching entitled "Canoe Man" by  Frank Weston Benson (1862 – 1951). 
Canoe Man (1941) by Frank Weston Benson

I thought the scratchy nature of the artwork would work well burned into the leather. The image had to be modified somewhat to fit the triangular dimensions of the seat. Here is the incomplete image being burned...

Burning the image

I while back I was asked about the tools used for decorative pyrography. I use the Canadian made Razortip SK Pyrography machine. Great little contraption that allows for a range in shading tones. Here is the end result of the seat before sealing with a waterproofing conditioner which darkens the leather a bit...

Decoration Complete

The bottoms of the dowels were crudely rounded with a crooked knife so the stool would rock less. To seal the dowels, some left over deck stain was used giving them a warm reddish tint. Here is the stool against another dusting of snow in Toronto.

Canoe Campstool

With the seat removed, the legs collapse back into an easily transported package...

Folded secured legs for storage

So there's another piece of homemade canoe camping gear for the upcoming season.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Historic Paddle Art: Thomas Davies - Indian Encampment Paddle

Here's an illustration of a decorated canoe paddle by British Artist, Thomas Davies (1737 - 1812). This painting is dated to 1788 and features some bark canoes and wigwams. The 2nd standing figure from the right is holding a short canoe paddle decorated in a yellow and red pattern.

A View near Point Levy opposite Quebec with an Indian Encampment, Taken in 1788 (1788 )
 Thomas Davies (1737 - 1812)
watercolour over graphite on laid paper
35.1 x 52.5 cm

Here's a close up of the paddle. A distinctive checkered pattern on the blade along with some decorative dots.

Davies' Paddle Closeup

I recall seeing a similar pattern earlier and is nearly identical to the colours and design depicted in William Armstrong's much later painting, Hudson's Bay Story, Fort William (see earlier post HERE). It's also been replicated in an exhibit at the Canadian Canoe Museum.

William Armstrong
Hudson's Bay Store, Fort William c. 1860-1870
National Gallery of Canada (no. 30490)

Armstrong's Paddle Closeup

Canadian Canoe Museum Replica

This checkerboard style pattern is also found in some decorative canoe models in the  collection of the Museum of Ethnography in Neuch√Ętel. While those model paddles feature different colours, they are dated to 1799 , much closer to Davies' original painting date so they seem reflective of the simple geometric designs of the period...

Model Canoe Paddles and gear dated to 1799
Museum of Ethnography in Neuch√Ętel

Friday, January 18, 2013

Steve Kovach Cherry Paddle

Another EBay listing showcasing a Cherry paddle by Steve Kovach...

 The seller's details:
This auction is for is a One of a kind Hand Carved Algonquin style CANOE PADDLE. This is for the one paddle shown in the gallery picture. I hand carved this paddle using traditional hand tools from a single piece of beautiful North American Black Cherry wood. This paddle has stunning sculptural form and brilliant wood grain pattern. I based this on examples of traditional Abanaki, Passamoquoddy, Maliceet paddles (the same native Americans who built the spectacular and technologically advanced birch bark canoes). I have always admired the amazing and beautiful sculptural form in the original native American paddles made from various American hardwoods including birdseye and tiger maple, cherry and ash. Many were decorated with incised designs, I prefer the pure shape and highly figured wood. The last photograph (#5) shows other paddles I have made from a variety of different wood species and grain pattern (these are not part of this auction but shown for comparison and variety).
Most notable about these paddles is the selection of wood species for greatest strength and durability. The structural integrity, (they are thin and light where possible and thicker where needed) the shape of the grip and shaft, it is thickest where the greatest forces are during stroke. These are taken to a very fine finish and two coats of polyurethane finish applied. 
This paddle offered in this auction is 66" long, blade is 6-1/4" wide (as thin as 3/16"in places) shaft is 1- 1/4" thick at widest point and weighs approx 28 ounces. Signed "SK" (Steve Kovach) with my personal brand on end of grip. There are some very fine and shallow surface drying cracks in the one side of this paddle from drying process (this is carved from an air dried board that was in my shop for the past 6 years) they are in the surface only and have no effect on the strength of this paddle They have been filled with cyanoacrylate glue prior to finish. 
This will make a spectacular decorative piece but is also a fully functional as a deep water paddle for your birch bark canoe

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Cree Paddle Carvings

Came across an image of a paddle carving workshop focusing on the traditional elongated Cree design (one of my favourites). This deep water paddle design doesn't require a very wide piece of lumber stock yet provides quite a bit of power given its length. The gentleman on the right is holding a painted paddle which resembles some of the painted artwork of Cree paddles in the Canadian Museum of Civilization

Monday, January 14, 2013

Malecite St.John River Paddle

Another one of the paddles on my ever growing "to do list" is the 1896 Malecite St.John River Paddle documented in Adney's Bark Canoes and Skin Boats of North America.  The blade looks to be standard beavertail with a distinct spine, but the grip has some rectangular features and a carved drip ring which suites the paddle nicely.

Adney's St. John Malecite Pattern

After casually examining some of my books the other day, I recognized this grip pattern on the cover of Graham Warren's must have paddle making book, Canoe Paddles: A Complete Guide to Making Your Own. The grip is featured near the bottom right of his book cover..

G Warren's book cover, St.John Malecite grip on lower right

Warren's first publication (which I blogged about here) has a complete illustration with a table of offsets for this pattern as well. Graham has also graciously re-published an article on his website entitled The Malecite St.John River Paddle (.pdf format) that appeared in Open Canoe in 1996 which features the detailed pattern for anyone interested in this design. The 2011 article entitled "Know Your Paddles" by Beth Stanley in Canadian Woodworking also has a closeup shot of this grip featured below.

St. John River Malecite Grip

At this stage though, it'll be while before I start this one. Still waiting to be completed is the decoration on the Yellow Birch York Sunbury replica. Plus I've been working on some more canoe related homemade camping gear that'll be posted on soon.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Historic Paddle Art: Rindisbacher Chippewa Canoe

An illustration by artist Peter Rindisbacher (1806 – 1834) depicting a Chippewa (Ojibwe) family paddling a bark canoe. ...

 Chippewa Canoe 
Peter Rindisbacher

The woman seated in the middle is using a paddle with a small bobble shape grip that caught my eye. It is very reminiscent of this scene from the Canadian film Ikwe that features some historically relevant bark canoes and other props...

Found it interesting that both the illustration and the film shot show the characters gripping the paddle in a sort of reverse, upwards grip where the bobble serves as a stopper of sorts. For another example of a modern day bobble gripped paddle, check out this 2010 post regarding a Western Cree style paddle made by Mike Elliot of Kettle River Canoes.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Voyageur Re-enactment Paddles

Came across an album on Flickr featuring some Voyageur re-enactment paddles. One of the shots includes a closeup of 2 of the paddles. The chap on left has some sort of personal mark or carving on the grip and the paddle on the right has some form of copper panel nailed to the tip...

Posing with the paddles and canoe headboard

Monday, January 7, 2013

Canadian Woodworking Article Online

Back in '011, I mentioned an issue of Canadian Woodworking & Home Improvement had a short, illustrated article on canoe paddles. It was written by Beth Stanley, the Artisan Program Coordinator at the Canadian Canoe Museum.

 June/July 2011 Issue

Just came across the whole article online (with reduced-sized images) on the magazine's archive site. Click here to read and see a range of paddle blade designs and grip shapes in the museum's collection

Friday, January 4, 2013

Penn Museum Decorated Malecite Blade

Many thanks to blog reader and paddle maker Luc Poitras for once again finding an excellent example of a Malecite paddle online - this one from the collection of University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archeology and Anthropology. Unfortunately there doesn't seem to be a full image of the paddle including the grip area, but some low-resolution photos reveal an exquisite carving on the blade

Malecite Canoe Paddle
 Object Number:  NA3900.  Courtesy of the Penn Museum 
Provenience: New Brunswick (Canada)
Materials:  Wood
Technique:  Incised
Description:  Incised Both Sides
Other Number: 593/29 - Field No SF

Blade Closeup
Object Number:  NA3900.  Courtesy of the Penn Museum
Reprinted with Permission as per Penn Museum Fair Trade Use Policy 

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Limberlost Daytrip Video

Happy new year to all! Had some time to tinker around with some video footage of my summer daytrip to Crystal Falls on the Limberlost Wilderness Preserve. Here's a quick one minute video of the highlights...

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