Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Historic Paddle Photo: Abbe Museum

Here is an old photo from the Facebook gallery of the Abbe Museum. The long paddle seems to have a tiny painted grip area while the rest of the wood has been left bare.

The photo was posted because the museum is asking for the public's assistance to locate the original photo in order scan for a new 2018 exhibit, Emergence: Root Clubs of Penobscot Nation. If you have any leads, contact Julia Gray, director of collections & research, at julia@abbemuseum.org or 207-288-3519.

Friday, March 23, 2018

Neuchatel Canoe Model Paddle Replica

A few examples of North American native paddle designs exist in European museums today owing to a robust souvenir industry in the 18th century. Huron (Wendat), Mohawk. Algonquin and Abenaki converts from the Catholic mission villages along the Saint Lawrence River collaborated with local nuns to manufacture "tourist art". The First Nations women would work to make model bark canoes and other material accessories. Older traditions of wooden dollmaking were refined by the use of wax to model the faces. In turn, the nuns utilized their traditions of fine needlework and embroidery to make miniature clothing in the mixed European - Native style fashionable in the region at that time.

A few of these model canoes have been mentioned earlier on this site. The 1760 Chartres Canoe, the 1760 Farquharson model, the 1794 Rennes canoe and the Mashantucket Pequot model canoe. Each had decorated canoes with equally ornamented paddles.

Another canoe model dated to 1799 has a much more simple (and realistic) decorative elements. The model was acquired  by a Swiss tourist, Jeanne Elisabeth Gugy for the curio collection of an associate in her hometown, Count Charles de Meuron. It was eventually became part of the collection of the  Musée D'ethnographie de Neuchâtel.

Musee d'ethnographie. Neuchatel. Switzerland IV.A.30

The bark hull has been left plain and with the thwarts, gunnels, decks and upper stems painted in a red-brown earth paint. Two male figures and two female figures are seen the posed in the hull. A paddle is visible in the stern and has a simple checkered pattern of green, yellow, and red/brown paint.

Male Figurine with decorated paddle - before 1799 
Musee d'ethnographie. Neuchatel. Switzerland IV.A.30

Obscured by the sail is another figure also holding a decorated paddle - a narrow blade with elongated flattened grip and a simple blade decoration of chevrons and dots.

Female Figurine with decorated paddle - before 1799 
Musee d'ethnographie. Neuchatel. Switzerland IV.A.30

I decided to create large reproduction of the latter example. At the time, I had some basswood cutoffs and managed to laminate these waste pieces to create a short blank. In the end I ended up with a 53" paddle after extrapolating dimensions from this miniature model while trying to maintain the scale. The original had some sort of darkened paint on the long grip, but I had a hard time discerning the shade. In my version, I simply charred the surface with a propane torch and sanded smooth. The remaining blue and red paint on the blade had a very thinned, transparent look so an attempt was made to mimic this excessively thinning the oil-based Tremclad paints I have on hand. In keeping with the handpainted tradition of the original amateur artist, I just free handed the dots and chevron decorations

  Neuchatel model paddle replica 

Being a short paddle, I think this one will get minimal usage but it'll still be a neat experience using a 200+ year old design.

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Pitt Rivers Museum: Woodlands Canoe Paddle circa 1858

Item number 1886.1.866 in the collection of the Pitt Rivers Museum is a "Woodlands" paddle dated to at least 1858.  The paddle is described as having a leaf-shaped blade and decoratively carved band on handle. 

Place details: N AMERICA. Canada. 
Cultural Group: NE ?Subarctic ?Woodlands E Algonquian
Dimensions: Max L = 1945 mm Max W of blade = 164 mm
When Collected: On or before 1858 Acquired: Transferred 17 February 1886
Source Link
 © Pitt Rivers Museum, University of Oxford

Both the blade shape and the slender, elongated handle with its indented grip face seem very similar to the circa 1849 Passamaquoddy paddle recently on display at the Peabody Museum (previous post here)

Grip of c1849 Passamaquoddy Paddle
Peabody Museum
Photo Courtesy of John Fitzgerald

I've begun to carve a similar paddle (out of yellow poplar stock) to replicate this design.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Paddle Article for Wooden Canoe

Special news to report. A short article regarding one of my historic replicas was published in the February issue of Wooden Canoe (Issue 205, Vol. 41 No.1). "Paddles from the Past" discusses the history behind the decorated steering paddle illustrated by H.R. Schoolcraft in his  1821 publication Narrative journal of travels through the northwestern regions of the United States...

Fig. 2 Schoolcraft's steering paddle
from Plate II - Indian Manufactures
Narrative journal of travels through the northwestern regions of the United States...
 Henry Rowe Schoolcraft

For anyone who might be interested, I've made the two page article available for viewing at this link here.

As an aside, the 2018 Wooden Canoe Heritage Association Assembly is finally back in Canada this summer and will be in nearby Peterborough, Ontario July 17-22. More on that in another post.  I've been scheduled to discuss historic paddle designs and decoration. The Schoolcraft reproduction will be there as part of a display.

Friday, March 9, 2018

Historic Paddle Illustarion: Robert Petley - Sketch of Halifax from Dartmouth

Another painting by Lieut. Robert Petley (1809-1869)  which prominently features a Mi'kmaq camp and paddle as well as a distinctive canoe in the background.

Sketch of Halifax from Dartmouth (with Mi'kmaq)
Petley, Robert
Latest Production Date: c 1834
Material: Watercolour on paper
Accession Number: 1980.62

Monday, March 5, 2018

Krieghoff 1848 Paddle Replica

Work has been progressing on a paddle replica based on the artwork of Cornelius Krieghoff. As mentioned in this previous post, Krieghoff made an oil in 1847 entitled " Aboriginal Camp in Lower Canada"  which featured a brightly coloured paddle blade with a chevron motif. 

Painting | Aboriginal Camp in Lower Canada | M19893
Aboriginal Camp in Lower Canada
Cornelius Krieghoff (1815-1872)
1847, 19th century
Source Link

Curiously, Krieghoff never painted a paddle shaft extending into the background which gives the image a bit of distorted look. Still, the vibrant colours on the blade make for a uniquely decorated paddle image. 

Paddle Blade Closeup

I'm not the first person to replicate this sort of decoration. Blog reader, Nigel, used this pattern to decorate the blade of his Edenwood Northwoods Paddle back in 2012 with lovely results.

Nigel's Decorated Blade

Nigel's Decorated Edenwood Paddle

In 1848, Krieghoff created another piece based on his original oil with some minor modifications. The image was retitled, " Indian Wigwam in Lower Canada" and was used to create a lithograph for publication. In Krieghoff's updated version, a decorated shaft and pronounced ball shaped grip are now in view. The artist also decided to reverse the chevron pattern on the blade so that the decorations are now "pointing" up towards the grip rather than down towards the blade tip. Many of these greyscale lithographs were subsequently hand coloured by other artists resulting in subtle variations of the decorative pattern. Those variations were discussed thoroughly in this post here.

For my version, a decision was made to decorate one side according to the dominant pattern found in my research - a repeating Red - Blue - Yellow pattern on one side, much like the version in the National Gallery of Canada.

Indian Wigwam in Lower Canada
Cornelius Krieghoff
Lithograph with watercolour on wove paper
National Gallery of Canada
Credit line: Gift of Donald Maclaren, Ottawa, 1990
Accession number: 30820

The carving photos were part of the extensive set lost on a damage memory card, but I was able to shape a small bobble grip and did my best to approximate the blade shape from the artwork. Painting has never been my strong suit, especially colour matching and mixing. In the end, I just used some Tremclad paints that were available in small sample sizes to capture the spirit of the original, gaudily decorated paddle.

Krieghoff Paddle Replica

On the alternate side, I decided to deviate a bit and follow the pattern found on the copy of the  Toronto Public Library Special Collections Archive

Indian Wigwam in Lower Canada (1848)
Creator: Cornelius Krieghoff, 1815-1872
Contributors:Thomas Kammerer; Andreas Borum, 1799-1853
Identifier: 022kieghoff-inidan-wigwam
Rights: Public domain
Gift of the Bain family - 2008.
Courtesy: Toronto Public Library

This coloured lithograph has  more significant pattern change. The chevron pattern is Yellow - Red - Blue - Red - Yellow - Blue and the banded decoration on the shaft has been replaced with an all red.  A decision was made use a different, brighter blue for this side. Again not even close to a colour match on the original, but it was the best I could do.

Krieghoff Paddle Replica  - alternate side

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Mawi' Art: Charlie Gaffney Etched Paddle

Mawi' Art is an Artist Collective that features various forms of Atlantic First Nations art and crafts. The section on carvings and sculpture features an image of Wolastoqiyik (Maliseet) Visual Artist Charlie Gaffney working on an incised paddle...

Charlie Gaffney Etched Paddle

While perusing the paintings section of the site, I came across a mural by Natalie Sappier featuring a canoe related theme with decorated paddles.

Natalie Sappier

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