Saturday, June 5, 2010
No More Teasing...
The school where I teach had their annual Exhibition this weekend. It's a bit bittersweet for me because I love doing this, but it is always the same weekend as the John Gardner Small Boat Workshop at Mystic Seaport, so I don't get to go there, but I do get to have fun showing people the boats I teach my students to build.
The school has once again provided a large tent for us to display the boats under and in front of. This year we occupied the whole tent and then some of the surrounding lawn. The show runs on Friday evening and Saturday morning and while the tent wasn't necessary last night, it was a good thing this morning as it sprinkled a bit as we were setting things up. It was, however, hot, humid and oppressive. Quite frankly, it is a great deal of work to set things up, pack them away on Friday night and repeat it for Saturday morning. I'm very pleased and proud that my students stick it out to do this.
We had boats, materials and jigs to show people what we do and how we do it. My students are always uncomfortable showing their unfinished work, but I think that it is very important for the people who come to the show to see and understand what has gone into building these canoes and kayaks. Visitors to the show are usually very pleased to be able to see all of the build stages.
I really need to tell a little tale here. One of my students confided in me that she'd come to sign up for a furniture making class to learn to make a table and when the class was filled up, she was looking around for something else to do and decided that she'd sign up for my class and build a canoe instead! (Table...canoe...table...canoe...whatever!) The boat in the picture below is being built by that student. Her sister came along and signed up for the class this year and has been building the canoe closest to you in the picture above. The feature strip on the side of both of their boats is a representation of a Fibonacci sequence - one is light on dark and the other dark on light. We just need to screw the trim together on the first sister's boat and I'll probably help her do it over the summer.
People who come and see these boats quickly become captivated. Some simply walk around gobsmacked and can say nothing. One lady this morning walked around like that for about 2o minutes with her mouth literally hanging open as she went. After she finally composed herself, she had lots of questions for us. I can't say that I've had anyone be quite that distracted at exhibition before.
The school really likes it when we have live demonstrations going on. Secretly, my students do as well. The two students building the Prospector Ranger took the time to remove the staples from the hull. Here's one of them sitting down on the job:
The Prospector Ranger is looking nice - we've got stems to go on and some fairing and glassing to do before we get to see how lovely the feature strip will look. I think it will be stunning.
I brought along the skin-on-frame kayak frame that we only had at last year's show in 1/4 scale. People seem to be interested in that too, but I think the finished boat will be a draw as well.
Three students really completed their boats this year. They all have some small details they're still working on - but I'll point that out later. One student finished the Wee Lassie II in the background and this lovely pair of poplar paddles to go with it. The canoe is called the Double Espresso as he brought in a coffee machine for my class's ten o'clock "union break".
Here's a detail of the Double Espresso's deck. It's tiger maple with a mahogany stripe. It's gently curved and has a small scupper at the tip to allow water to drain. He just needs to apply some hardware to the decks to tie the boat down and attach painter lines.
The next boat is the Osprey kayak which has be being built for the last two years. You have to keep in mind that the classes are only three and a half hours per week for little over half a year. The kayak is named Phoenix. The builder is a semi-retired cabinet maker and lost his shop last year to a fire. He was very lucky that he hadn't taken the boat to his shop to work on. He's got some small blocks to mount under the deck for the seat mounting, a piece of butternut to finish the coaming trim and varnish. He'll add some hatches at a later date. A very pretty kayak.
The third canoe that was finished up is another Wee Lassie II. The woman who built the canoe is a quilter and the canoe was named Crossed Canoes for the quilting pattern. She decided that she'd impress us and made a lap quilt in the crossed canoes pattern that is draped in the canoe. We were indeed impressed.
Close-up of the quilt:
I really love it that even though all of my students build from the same designs, all of the boats are unique. Compare the deck in the picture below to the one above. This deck has a cherry burl and a walnut stripe with a mahogany coaming and grab handles.
So, as I mentioned before, the school likes live demonstrations and there were details to be finished - here are the Wee Lassie II builders finishing up a bit of seat caning:
A great day with great weather!