Tuesday, August 25, 2020

St. John River Malecite Replica

With the Covid19 issue taking over life here, it's been a challenge to get any work done on paddles between all the necessary isolating in addition to home-schooling my two boys. Many lingering projects from last summer have gone unfinished. One such paddle project is a replica of the circa 1860's Woodland paddle with a unique reverse stepped grip originally featured in this post here.

Circa 1860
5 ft. 3 3/4 in.
This paddle was collected in the St. John's River area of New Brunswick, Canada. Floral designs are incised on the top.
Originally from the Estate of Herbert and Patricia Wellington of Locust Valley, NY

I didn't have any birds-eye to work with, but just used plain soft maple. Here is a photo from the end of last summer. A little work needed to be done on symmetry and the grip area, but the paddle was progressing well.

1860 St. John River paddle in soft maple

The grip area of the original is actually asymmetrical. One side has a defined lip at the top while the other simply smoothed over. This second side also has a some basic chip-carved elements in the form of vines and dots.

In addition there are a series of incised lines with the number varying from one to three depending on the side of the grip face. Using a chip-carving knife and some abrasive cordage, I formed these interesting carving features on the grip and then burned a reproduction of the carved elements. In keeping with the original, the top station of the grip was not carved to perfect symmetry either, with the left a little more indented than the right. I like how these truly hand made paddles were carved with such imperfections that really are a reflection of mechanised construction.

Like many of the reproductions I've been doing lately, I burned many of the details onto one side of the blade. 

The original plan was to stain the very bright and plain maple wood to a more honey tone, but that will have to wait until time allows some experimentation. 

Wednesday, August 12, 2020

L.M. Turner Ungava Cree 1884 model paddles

The Reciprocal Research Network database includes samples of model Ungava Cree (Naskapi Innu) paddles collected by Lucien M. Turner during his Ungava expedition in 1884. The richly illustrated report published a decade later as Ethnology of the Ungava districtHudson Bay Territory unfortunately didn't include sketches of these paddles. The models are now part of the collection of the American Museum of Natural History.

USNM Number: E90113-0
Innu: Naskapi
Quebec, Canada
Collector: Turner, Lucien McShan
Accession Date: 1884-Jan-09
Accession Number: 013922

The paddles feature no end grip with straight sides blades culminating in a shallow, pointed tip. These models are very reminiscent of a later dated, full-sized Cree paddle now in the collection of 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

Wednesday, August 5, 2020

Historic Paddle Image: 1905 Northeast Carry Penobscot River

Another historic paddle image found on Worthpoint.com. This one published by G.H. Graves (from a William H. Rau negative) featuring some sports and guides at the Northeast Carry on the Penobscot River. Another party of canoeists is seen faintly off on the distance. Clear shots of the large bladed paddles and canvas canoes are visible.

If the photo looks familiar, it is because it appeared in various publications. I posted this very same image back in 2017 (link here). It appeared in the 1907 publication, With Gun and Guide, by Thomas Martindale.

Saturday, August 1, 2020

New Crooked Knife

Amidst the Covid19 lockdown, I realized I lost one of my favourite carving tools - this crooked knife made back in 2010.

So part of my quarantine was spent making another blade from an old file and creating a new crooked knife. In the end the loss of a favourite tool allowed for some more customisation on this one. The blade is set to a comfortable angle for me with the handle carved from a piece of hard maple. Also made it more decorative with a rounded scroll on top with chip-carved mimicked pattern burned along the sides

I screwed up the delicate carving of the recess for the tang and it ended up being far too loose. Not traditional, but the blade was set with some epoxy putty and then wrapped with some leather lace. It seemed fitting that a canoe paddle should be burned onto the design as well.

Been testing it out on a bunch of mini-paddles I've been working on. It is carving well...

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