Monday, August 19, 2019

Summer 2019 - Working on new paddles

Any morsel of free time was spent working on paddles this summer. At the moment, I have 3 distinct designs being worked on. First up is a 58" replica of the circa 1860's Woodland paddle collected from the St. John River area in New Brunswick featured earlier in this post here.

Circa 1860
5 ft. 3 3/4 in. 

I didn't have any birds-eye to work with, but just used plain soft maple. Still have to work on symmetry and the grip area, but here is the progress so far. It will likely be stained to match the honey-toned patina of the original.

1860 St. John River paddle in soft maple

Simultaneously, I've been working down a choice piece of spruce to make a reproduction of a pole grip Cree paddle dated to circa 1930-1935. The original with a black painted blade is in the Musee de Quai Branly in Paris, France.

Géographie :  Amérique –  Amérique du Nord –  Canada
Culture :  Amérique –  Cree
Date :  1930-1935
Dimensions et poids :  158.5cm  x 12.5cm, 647 g
Donateur :  Paul Coze
Précédente collection :  Musée de l'Homme (Amérique)
Numéro d'inventaire :  71.1931.44.155

My version was hewn with an axe and turned out ok except for a cumbersome knot at the top of the pole grip which created a slight bulge in an otherwise straight shaft. It was easily worked down with a crooked knife creating lots of wood shavings and bits for the evening camp fires.

c1930-1935 Cree Paddle in spruce

The inspiration for this final paddle is an illustration by famed Canadian artist, Arthur Heming (1870-1940), who travelled with voyageur brigades at the very end of the fur trade era. This specific artwork depicted a hardy voyageur  climbing up a steep slope with a tumpline loaded with a crate and large sacks of supplies. A narrow paddle with an oval bobble grip acts as a support stick.

This particular illustration was selected to visualize a description of a tough uphill portage by the canoe party in J.W. Tyrell's Across the sub-Artics of Canada, published in 1898 and available on Heming accompanied Tyrell on this trip and sketched many realistic portraits of the crew and environment. It stands to reason that the accomplished artist drew this paddle design from a realistic sample in the field.

My version was made from a narrow basswood board and also worked down with a crooked knife and spokeshave. Still not finished yet but it is coming along...

Heming Voyageur replica

Here are all three paddle side by side for comparison. Interesting to see that in their raw states, they all have similar pale tone. 
2019 Summer's work so far

No comments:

Post a Comment

Newer Posts Older Posts Home Page