Monday, January 20, 2020

late 19th C Arthur Heming Voyageur Paddle Reproduction

Another paddle replica carved during the summer of 2019 was a basswood "Voyageur" paddle illustrated by famed Canadian artist, Arthur Heming (1870-1940). Heming travelled with voyageur brigades at the very end of the fur trade era documenting the times with a mix of both realistic and fanciful artworks. In this case a hardy voyageur  climbs 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.

The sketch appears in J.W. Tyrell's Across the sub-Artics of Canada (published 1898) and is available on Heming accompanied Tyrell on this trip and in this case sketched many realistic portraits of the crew and environment. It stands to reason that the accomplished artist drew this paddle design from a real sample in the field.

My version was made from a narrow basswood board and also worked down with an axe, crooked knife and spokeshave. Here is a shot in the final stages of carving...

Heming Voyageur replica

Back in the city, the paddle was sanded down and the blade decorated. I was tempted to simply lightly burn the blade to match the sepia tones of the illustration, but in the end decided to use a thick coat of milk paint to recreate the reddish tones often used by voyageur crews.

A small window was left unpainted on the reverse side with details of the paddle burned onto the blade face and the whole paddle oiled.

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