Thursday, June 28, 2018

Juraj's paddles from Slovakia

Here are some paddle submissions by blog reader, Juraj from Slovakia. More photos of his carving process can be seen on his online gallery link.

The paddle on the left is American Black Cherry and the right is Maple. The grip design and decoration for the cherry paddle is based on the circa 1860 Woodland paddle that appeared on  page 384, plate 473 of the exhibition catalogue,  Pleasing the spirits : a catalogue of a collection of American Indian art by Douglas C  Ewing (1982).

The grip on his maple paddle is based on the design of my elder son's heirloom birth paddle which also appeared on the cover of Glooscap, the Beavers and the Sugarloaf Mountain illustrated by Réjean Roy.

Juraj finished both paddles with 3 coats of Boiled Linseed Oil and then a mix of BLO, turpentine and beeswax. In addition, he restored a fiberglass canoe with some custom carved wood components. The finished canoe has been launched and paddles have been dipped in a tributary of the Danube. Check out pics of this beautiful canoe country below.

Well done and happy paddling, Juraj!

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Anonymous Algonquin Couple Paddle Replica

Another unique paddle design replicated for the upcoming WCHA assembly  is from an illustration by an anonymous artist. Dated to between 1750-1780, the painting in the collection of the City of Montreal archive illustrates an Algonquin couple in period clothing.  The male figure holds a paddle over his shoulder.

Algonquine, Algonquin . - [ca 1750]-[ca 1780]
Ville de Montréal. Section des archives
CA M001 BM007-2-D27-P004

The paddle has a fairly unique shape, a short blade design with recurved shoulders, a lengthy shaft and a distinct bobble shape grip. It seems very reminiscent of modern day SUP paddles hitting the market.

In any event, I had an idea to re-use an incomplete blank that was begun years ago and never finished. At the time, I used a narrow maple board and laminated some walnut edges to make a whitewater paddle with an experimental Battenkill Grip.

Laminating walnut edging

Original whitewater blank

In the end, I never really did much whitewater paddling and the finishing the blnk no longer became a priority. The short blade design seemed suitable to re-purpose into this display paddle but the overall shaft length was too short. So a simple shaft splice was done with some maple stock and the shaft extended. Here is a photo after the splice and with the blade roughly re-cut.

Ended up cutting the shaft down a bit more and used the bits to laminate a cube at the grip. The was eventually worked down to form a bobble grip similar to the original artwork. I had some blue and red Tremclad Rust paint on hand for the blade decoration, but ended up using a torch to burn the shaft and grip to a charred finish.  Here is the final result...

Circa 1750-1780 Algonquin Paddle Replica

Friday, June 15, 2018

Davies, Berczy & Armstrong paddle replica

Just completed another display paddle for the upcoming WCHA Assembly in Peterborough this summer. My presentation on Saturday July 21 will focus on decorative themes featured in various artworks over the centuries. One such pattern that consistently occurs in several artworks is the "checkerboard" pattern where the blade is painted in opposite quadrants, sometimes with additional decorative elements.

The earliest painting illustrating this pattern I could source is by British Artist, Thomas Davies (1737 - 1812). His painting entitled  A View near Point Levy opposite Quebec.. is dated to 1788 and features a standing figure holding a short canoe paddle decorated an alternating red pattern. The native group is thought to be Abenaki or Huron / Wendat based on the canoe designs and clothing.

A View near Point Levy opposite Quebec with an Indian Encampment, Taken in 1788 (1788 )
 Thomas Davies (1737 - 1812)

Davies' Paddle Closeup

Decades later the red checkered pattern appears on a work by William Bent Berczy (1791 – 1873) entitled Indian Encampment near Amherstburg features a stylized shore scene. In the rear is a bark canoe and a set of decorated paddles lying on the ground.

Indian Encampment near Amherstburg, c. 1819-1830
William Bent Berczy
British, Canadian, 1791 - 1873
watercolour over graphite on wove paper

A closeup reveals that one paddle looks to have a single side painted red while the one underneath has the diagonal checkered pattern with red paint. Given that the paddle grip was not depicted in the earlier work by Davies, I ended up using Berczy's illustration as the source for my reproduction.

Berczy Painted Paddle's Closeup

Then 30+ years later, the decorative element occurs again in multiple works of William Armstrong.

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

Indians Completing a Portage
William Armstrong
1873 watercolor 
Library and Archives Canada, Mikan #2833414

Paddle Closeup (far right corner of original image)

The Distribution of the Government Bounty on Great Manitouling Island 1856
William Armstrong

Paddle Closeup (bottom left corner of original image)

Echoing the images portraying rather short paddles, I carved this one from an offcut of basswood. In the end it has a 21 inch blade and an overall length of 4 feet, making it quite suitable for one of my sons to use. It has a blunt, flattened grip as in the Berczy painting. On one side, I included the additional dot element from Davies' work in 1788 and on the other painted the simple checkered pattern found in later artworks of Armstrong.

Paddle Reproduction from Davies, Berczy and Armstrong

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