Sunday, September 14, 2014

Bill Curtsinger - Northwoods Canoe & Paddle

Here's a photographic print featured on FineArtAmerica by Bill Curtsinger entitled The Bow And Oar Of A Handmade Wooden Canoe. 

Friday, September 5, 2014

Historical Paddle Art: Robert Griffing's "The Paddle Painter"

Artist Robert Griffing is well known for his historical art depicting Eastern Woodland peoples and the 18th Century Eastern frontier. Many of his paintings feature bark canoes and decorated paddles. One of his new releases is entitled, "The Paddle Painter" and features a calming scene of a how a paddle might have been decorated with natural pigments in years gone by...

"The Paddle Painter"
©Robert Griffing

The snake like pattern on the blade along with the red wavy borders is a common theme I've seen in some of his other artworks. Most notably in another stunning piece called "Into the Unknown"

"Into the Unknown" by Robert Griffing - ©Robert Griffing

The pattern may be based on some model paddles dated to 1740-1750 and documented in Timothy Kent's marvelous publication, Birchbark Canoes of the Fur Trade (ISBN: 0-9657230-0-3 ). Figure 86 illustrates some decorated paddles that were made in New France to accompany a souvenir canoe model. The third paddle from the left features this serpentine patten with the scalloped border.

 Figure 86. Paddles fashioned ca. 1740s-1750s in New France to accompany a Type A-1 voyaging canoe model and figurines. Original Link 

Not sure of the significance, but the snake-like pattern is one featured in another form of Woodland Art - native pictographs. One of the most famous is the Panel VIII pictograph on Agawa Rock in Lake Superior Provincial Park. It features a representation of a canoe with the Great Lynx Mishibizhiw who controlled Lake Superior. Below are two giant underwater serpents called Mishi-ginebikoog in the Ojibwe language. 

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Gonna need a bigger canoe

Things have been quiet here as of late in anticipation of a new arrival. Our 2nd son finally decided to enter the world in the early morning hours of August 11th. All is well, but of course free time for paddle carving is non-existent for the moment.

I was, however, able to get this shot of our little one practicing his Canadian stroke with a mini Maliseet style paddle...

Here's a shot of big brother from 2008 with his first paddle...

Thanks for everyone's patience with the lack of posts while things settle down into a new rhythm for our family.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Craig Johnson Sassafras Paddles

Even though I missed the 2014 WCHA assembly again this year, some of the attendees have shared wonderful photos of all the canoeing fun. Jim Wilson recently uploaded a Flickr album of much of the action, including one of the long-standing traditions at the Assembly...the Paddle-by. Participants cruise by one-by-one showcasing their wooden boats.

I recognized a few paddling friends, most notably Pam Wedd of Bearwood Canoes. Pam was the wonderful instructor for my own build course way back in '08! She brought along a new 14' Gerrish Replica in a pretty turquoise colour.

Photo Courtesy of Jim Wilson

Equally stunning was Craig Johnson paddling his 15' canoe (also built at Pam's shop in Parry Sound, ON). Craig makes gorgeous paddles as well (see previous posts here and here). This particular one is sassafras Northwoods style with an indented grip, distinct blade spine and a unique copper tip.

Photo Courtesy of Jim Wilson

Craig had posted more of his beautiful sassafras creations on the WCHA forums a while back.

Craig Johnson's Sassafras Paddles

He's also come up with a pretty innovative way of mounting copper tips onto the blade end. A photo sequence of the basic process is found is this thread here.

Craig's Copper Tips

After having some serious sassafras envy, Craig was kind enough to mill some 5/4 Sassafras boards and sent them along with paddling friend Rob Stevens back home to me. Very much appreciated!

new 5/4 stock

Between this haul and Graham Warren's new paddle design book, I'm getting all sorts of ideas for some new creations.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Wanigan Lid Tree Shelf

While dabbling around on the net, I stumbled on this thread regarding Lightweight Camping Tables on the BWCA forums. Seems like some folks have come up with neat plywood tables that setup on trees to get some basic gear off the ground...

  deancamp's camping table

okinaw55's suspended camping table

Turns out that there are some commercial versions out there including the Coleman Gear Station complete with lantern hooks...

I'm also familiar with the much more elaborate Mason Kitchen designed by Paul Mason. It's described on his site here.  Kevin Callan & crew often feature them in their many canoeing adventure videos. Here's a youtube video link of the gang using it in Woodland Caribou Provincial Park.

Mason Kitchen

Anyway, while dreaming about future backcountry trip I thought about the idea multi-purposing the leather tumpline on the wanigan to suspend the lid as a sort of tree shelf. I'm sure seasoned trippers have done something like this before, but I haven't found any pics online showcasing this concept.

There's a spot on the cottage property that has some nice trees and I often set up my Hennessy Hammock to get a bug free afternoon snooze. This time I brought along the wanigan for the experiment. The leather tumpline was slipped off without untying all the knots. The headband was placed over the hammock's suspension straps around the tree. A low hanging branch could've also worked. The remaining leather loops which normally go under the base of the wanigan were used to support the wanigan lid and I ended up with a functional & sturdy elevated table.

Here's a view from the side...

Wanigan lid "shelf" suspended from Tump

Loaded up the shelf with some of the typical gear I might carry. On the left is a Trangia Mini cookset with an extra stainless steel bowl found at a thrift store. On the right is a separate SS kettle I like to use for the constant boiling of water for hot beverages. Can't tell, but there is a homemade alcohol stove underneath it along with the SS plate. My trusty flask of bourbon rounds out the shelf. 

Loaded up in the practice camp

Anyway, seems like a feasible way to temporarily rig up some usable work space in camp. Of course, the lid would have to go back on at night to prevent the critters from getting into the food supply. The lid can be easily removed to snap back on at night and the tied tumpline simply slipped back around the wanigan when it's time to break camp. One of the benefits of lugging a cumbersome wooden box on a trip is the flat surface in camp. Put it on the ground and you have an instant bench for food prep & entertainment. Now that there's this hanging shelf option, I'm looking forward to getting some backcountry time with it.

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