Sunday, March 6, 2016

Black Thunder Studio: Nick Dillingham's Canoe Paddles

Nick Dillingham of Black Thunder Studio makes a variety of heritage utility pieces and functional woodcraft. Among his many skills is his artistry with basket making and mocotaugans. Nick has also carved a variety of canoe paddles including this triple set which appears on his webpage.

The centre paddle with the painted decoration might looks familiar to readers of the blog. It is a pattern that appeared in Robert Griffing's 2014 piece, "The Paddle Painter" (see post here)

"The Paddle Painter"
©Robert Griffing

The decoration's origin may be much earlier still. Tim Kent's marvelous publication, Birchbark Canoes of the Fur Trade  features an illustration of some paddles that were made in New France to accompany a souvenir canoe model. The third paddle from the left features this serpentine patten with the scalloped border.  It seems these are the paddles made for the souvenir model "Chartres Canoe" dated to 1672, at the Musée des Beaux-arts in Chartres, France.

Browsing through Black Thunder Studio's Facebook page also showed a few closeup photos of one of Nick's other carved paddles with wonderful scalloped grip and beautiful decoration along the shoulder's of the blade.

Nick Dillingham Paddle

Blade Decoration

For anyone interested in learning from this gifted craftsman, Nick is holding a paddle carving workshop on April 23rd on Lake Olga in Manistee National Forest in Cadillac, Michigan. Further details can be found in his post here.

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