Monday, March 17, 2008

Obsession! (For Canoe Builders)

One of my students in my canoe-building class last year had taken the class before. He learned quite a bit in the first class and was applying what he learned in the second class. One of the things he learned was how to goad other students into stretching the limits of their talents. He was interested in the idea of a boat in which the strips are very carefully arranged by color in such a way as to result in gradient shading.

He picked his victim carefully.

The "Victim" was a fairly talented and creative student and was taking the class for the first time. He is a quiet, but "driven" individual. Once the first student had planted the seed of the idea with his victim, the creative juices started flowing and the obsession kicked in.

When you make a cedar strip canoe, the first thing you need to do is to take and cut the cedar boards into 1/4" thick strips that are 3/4" wide (The 3/4" thickness is that of a "nominal" 1" thick board that has been planed. I've got a bone to pick, however. That's really a lie by the lumber mills or yards or both. They actually give you an 11/16" thick board, not 3/4"! - I feel cheated!)

At any rate, the "victim" cut his 8" wide planks into 1/4" strips. As he cut each strip, he packaged the strips exactly as they came off the board. When the cutting of a board was finished, the strips were taped together in a bundle. He did this for each board. Once the boards were cut, he arranged the bundles of strips on a table and juggled them in such a way as to get a subtle transition of both color and grain across the whole boat. Once satisfied with this, the victim then proceeded to unpackage the strips and lay them across the table, numbering them, drawing a center line across them and dividing them into two packages for the two sides of the boat. This is important so that when the cove and bead are cut on the edges of the strips that they will be "cove up" to hold glue. (works for some of the boat, but not all of it...)

So, finally, the boat will be dark in color near the gunnels, and gradually fade to light color on the bottom and then back to dark color near the gunnels on the opposite side. It should be a stunning effect. I can't wait to see how it looks.

Oh, yeah - as you can tell from the title, the students named the canoe "The Shady Lady"

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