Stitching the canoe ends

27 Oct

October 25.

With the help of visiting Lac du Flambeau students Aydin, Dallas, and Estabon, Wayne undertook the painstaking work sewing up the prow and stern ends of the canoe.

stern before work

The stern before work got started.

winter bark bundle

Birchbark harvested in the fall or winter is darker and especially suitable for the kind of etching and finishing work that Wayne planned for the prow and stern. Here is the bark bundle after soaking.  Wayne selected lighter bark sections for the prow and darker sections for the stern.

winter bark cut

The soaked bark is laid out and cut. Here, Wayne is cutting some of the deep red bark that will be used for the stern.

winter bark etching

Wayne took a moment to show us how this bark can be etched.  By removing pieces of the outer bark and exposing the lighter bark below, a pattern can be created.  Etched patterns will be added to the canoe at a later stage in the process.


The pieces were shaped to fit on the upper end of the prow and stern.

cutting pattern on stern

After the cut sections were set in place, the bark at the base of the stern and prow was cut in a decorative pattern.

fitting winter bark into stern

Wayne adds a second piece of winter bark to the other side of the stern.

preparing root for stitching

Spruce roots were used for the stitching in the upper sections of the prow and stern.  Each root had to be carefully prepared so that they could slide easily through small holes in the bark.

decorative stitching, stern, continues

A harness stitch was used to bind the upper pieces of winter bark to the bark below.

harness stitches stern complete

Once the upper and lower pieces were stitched together, the  lower section of the prow and stern was sewn together using a synthetic cord, as elsewhere on the canoe.  This binding will eventually be covered in pine pitch and leather.

prow bottom stitching complete

The prow with lower sewing complete.

decorate stitching, prow begins

Now the upper pieces of bark could be sewn together with roots.

decorative stitching, stern underwaydecorative stitching stern, side view

Weaving the root back and forth through the two pieces of bark and core piece in-between was delicate work and took many hands.

prow stitching, pattern continues

Wayne created a decorative pattern with the root stitching for these upper sections.

prow stitching binds front together

The pattern emerges with root stitching that is both decorative and essential to the canoe’s durability.

decorative stitching, stern, underway

The color contrast between the roots and red winter bark on the stern section was particularly striking.

decorative stitching, prow, complete

The finished prow.

decorative stitching stern, complete

The finished stern.

Watch a video synopsis of the work on the stern.

prow work underway

There was lots of other work to do, too.  The remaining gores needed to be sewn up with roots and this work went on alongside the prow and stern work.

sewing gores underway

Sewing the gores with root.

Dejope fire ring visit

Wayne and the guys had a chance to visit some of campus during their time here this week, including the fire ring at Dejope Hall, where the Lac du Flambeau emblem is placed alongside the emblems of the other recognized tribes of Wisconsin.

Big Ten TV camera man

And a crew from Big Ten TV came to document the project as well, interviewing Wayne and his assistants.  The TV crew is planning to return for the launching ceremony in late November and will produce a feature story after that. Stay tuned….

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Posted by on October 27, 2013 in Building the Canoe


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