The first Folk School class of the season got off to a great start with students designing and crafting their own West Greenland kayak paddle. They started off by finding their wingspan plus a cubit. What’s a cubit? It’s the measurement from your elbow to your fingertips. That distance was used to determine the length of the paddle. They also had to determine the length of the loom (where you hold the paddle) and the width of the blade using their own body measurements; the combination of these measurements is what makes the paddle a perfect fit for the individual kayak-er. Once these numbers were gathered, all of the measurements were transferred onto a cedar 2’ x 4’ x 8’ board. The design process involved a lot of math and students learned the trick for finding half of a fraction which came in very handy.
Next came the defining stage which involved using a jig saw or band saw to rough cut the general shape of the paddle.
Spoke shave, hand plane, surform files and sandpaper were used to bring the paddle to its final form. This is the stage where the “paddle comes to life” and it was one of the most rewarding parts.
Students received one-on-one instruction and guidance, but they had freedom to use their own creativity and skills to make the paddle unique. The instructor told them at the beginning that they would make mistakes and that’s okay; but when it’s all said and done they would go home with a beautiful paddle. And they did. As one student said, “the best part of the class is that I have a paddle and I made it all by myself”.
Check out the Folk School class listings and register now for a future class. Classes tend to fill up quickly!