Wednesday, June 8, 2011

One of my Favorite Posts of the Year.

Time for our annual exhibition of student work again! As per usual, they got a big tent for the front lawn for us to put our boats under/around and uncharacteristically, we had two days of wonderfully cool, dry weather after a week of hot and oppressive weather. Just enough of a breeze to be pleasant and comfortable. I took the pictures that you see here before we opened the exhibition on the morning of the second day. If I tried to do it with people around, it would be nearly impossible to get pictures!

We even had some unique boat stands (as seen above and below) which were student built!

My student who had nearly finished his Osprey sea kayak from Newfound Woodworks at last year's exhibition brought the finished article back for exhibition this year. For a boat which has really only been recently finished it has quite a bit of history already. The kayak is named Phoenix as we considered it to rise from the ashes of a tragedy - the student, a professional cabinetmaker, lost his workshop to a fire while taking the class. The same fire claimed the unfinished Wee Lassie of another student who was doing work in the shop on his canoe outside of class. In addition, the hatch with the inlay of the osprey was lost in an accident last year and had to be re-created. I think he did an excellent job recreating the hatch and matching species, color and grain to the existing kayak:

I am, however, a little disappointed in the bow. I was expecting a small hand-carved figurehead of a woman's face with flowing hair trailing down the sides of the bow. (Just kidding here, folks...) It's a simple detail, but I think a nice one.

Next to the Phoenix is a Charlotte based on the Tom Hill design. While this is not a boat built in the class, we've been displaying this canoe to try to gauge the interest of the public in offering another boat-building method. My father and I built this one and I've got another one I really need to get cracking on in the basement. This is probably DD's favorite canoe... While I enjoy strip construction, I'm considering a change that will allow for quicker and less expensive boats to be built so that more students will be able to take the class and enjoy their boats.

Pretty, no?

The students are always comparing details on each other's boats... This is the Root Beer Float - so named because it is a Sassafrass Wee Lassie canoe. It HAS to be one of the longest builds in my class, but then again, this student took a break to build a second decked canoe.

Took a while, but she's finally getting her "bling":

The next canoe is a Wee Lassie II called the Wavy Gravy. The canoe was named for the sinuous feature strip down the side and has been the product of one of my more meticulous students. I can't wait to see the finished product. It was a very popular canoe when visitors started showing up. One of the things that this student got to experience for the first time was answering the questions of visitors about how we do what we do as we build canoes. Most of my students are both critical of their own boats and dismissive of what they've learned until they hear the "oohs" and "aahs" of those people who come to see the canoes. I also believe that answering questions for visitors crystallizes what the students have learned in the process of building their canoe.

The canoe below is a Wee Lassie called the Cedar Ghost. The canoe was so-named as during the construction, the builder was sanding the hull in the parking lot and was covered in cedar dust. With the low contrast, it looked like he had turned into a ghost. The Cedar Ghost is another canoe that has been a while in coming. The builder took a very demanding job and installed a new kitchen in his home between the start and end of the build. This canoe is an exercise in following the spirit of the Wee Lassie - materials were selected for their light weight and simplicity. While the most unique feature is the hand-sculpted thwart/backrest, the boat has class by virtue of elegance.

This canoe also holds an interesting tale. She's a Wee Lassie II called Patience and is the product of a boat-builder who started in the class by coming to help her sister fair and sand her own Wee Lassie. Since that time, she has worked diligently and patiently to build this canoe and to continue helping her sister with her canoe.

To the left of Patience is our router table that we use to mold cove-and-bead features on the strips. In the foreground, you will see a set of forms that Odyssey came off of only recently. We try to share not only the finished (or nearly finished) products, but also try to show how we accomplish some of the tasks in the class. While Odyssey isn't pictured here, she is a beautiful Wee Lassie with strips of the same color located symmetrically that is being built by an amazingly dedicated student who would travel nearly a total of 400 miles every time he came to class. Consider that he's been coming to class for two years - that's 56 classes for a total of over 22,000 miles - if that's not an odyssey, I don't know what is!

Below is the Tesseract; a Wee Lassie with curved Mahogany decks that is being built by the sister of the builder of Patience. As I mentioned before, this student came to sign up to attend one of the furniture making classes because she wanted to build a table. Finding the class full, she signed up for the canoe-building class instead!

The curved decks came from a fairly thick piece of stock, but they have been back-thinned to keep them light. A coaming will be installed to hide this and the transition from the curved deck to the flat gunwales.

Last but not least is a picture of the happy builders of the first tandem canoe built in the class. It is a Peterborough Ranger 15' design from Steve Killing that was purchased from Bear Mountain Boats. This is a LARGE canoe to move in and out of the shop every week and has been quite a challenge for that reason. The canoe has beautiful accent stripes and trim in Peruvian Walnut and Basswood with Mesquite decks. This is a boat I'm dying to paddle, actually.

While the theme this year seems to have been the "nearly finished", it was still an awe inspiring display of the students' creativity, patience and talent!

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