Fort Ross Cultural History Day, July 29th 2006.

This is the annual event at Fort Ross State Park when a bunch of volunteers re-create a day in The Fort when it was a Russian outpost. I took this opportunity to volunteer, paddle around in my skin boat and work on carving on a paddle, participate in some great pot luck meals and camp on the beach for a few nights.

I work for these few days on a project that doesn’t get very much attention the rest of the year. For the previous two years I had been carving on an Aleutian style wooden paddle and it was about done. I just had to do a little bit of final carving, some sanding and then I could stain the paddle. My idea was to mix some traditional Aleutian materials like red ocher and charcoal with epoxy and make it into a permanent stain and waterproof coating for a wooden paddle. I used some penetrating epoxy that is supposed to go deep into the wood and mixed it with a large amount of red ocher powder. The resulting “paint” did not penetrate as well as I had hoped. Most of the volatiles in the penetrating epoxy went into the wood or evaporated leaving most of the ocher powder sitting on the surface. Then it set up binding a thick layer of pigment onto the surface. Perhaps this will work out OK after all, but I had to let the red ocher dry and will find some time to put the bone-black charcoal powder on later. The brush I used was a disposable painters brush and was not fine enough for the edges of the design detail I had chosen for my paddle. I’ll get a better brush and clean up the edges when I put the black parts of the design on.

All text and images Copyright © 2006 by Mike Higgins / contact