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. 

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