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.
The stern before work got started.
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.
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.
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.
After the cut sections were set in place, the bark at the base of the stern and prow was cut in a decorative pattern.
Wayne adds a second piece of winter bark to the other side of the stern.
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.
A harness stitch was used to bind the upper pieces of winter bark to the bark below.
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.
The prow with lower sewing complete.
Now the upper pieces of bark could be sewn together with roots.
Weaving the root back and forth through the two pieces of bark and core piece in-between was delicate work and took many hands.
Wayne created a decorative pattern with the root stitching for these upper sections.
The pattern emerges with root stitching that is both decorative and essential to the canoe’s durability.
The color contrast between the roots and red winter bark on the stern section was particularly striking.
The finished prow.
The finished stern.
Watch a video synopsis of the work on the stern.
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 the gores with root.
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.
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….