Sick to the Stomach

I’ve not updated this blog nearly regularly enough the last couple of weeks because I have been so busy fabricating the carton canoe, and making an authentic Greenland paddle with the help of a mentor and hand tools.

I have a deadline to get it the boat finished as I’ll be using it in a performance very soon but in the final moments it just is not coming together as I had hoped.

The plastic is fine… the frame actually came out brilliantly and I will bring some of the things I learned forward to the next boat (I’ll provide details in future posts) but attaching the plastic sheeting to the frame is proving very difficult… nothing is really working.

I have to cut seams into the plastic so that it can form around the frame but sealing these seams after has proved almost impossible. The folk techniques of the past are no help here- the beauty of using all natural materials is that they interact with each other rather beautifully… and I don’t have that luxury. One inelegant solution is to wrap the whole thing in cling film… however this will cover their original finish and makes the milk cartons virtually redundant… I think it would be possible to just wrap the frame in clingfilm alone and it would work, thus negating the hundreds of hours I’ve put into creating the plastic.

However clingfilm is weak and will easily get holes in it just from being carried, let alone dealing with rocks or other things one might find at sea… this has brought me to a new idea, which is to wrap the frame in cling film them skin around the clingfilm with the milk bottles to create a hard shell plastic layer. I could then stitch the outer layer using the plastic rope I have made (another post I need to update you with) in a method more reminiscent of folk techniques without having to worry about making those seams watertight.

Right now though… I feel sick. My stomach churns because it isn’t coming together as I hoped. This is the downside of feeling your way through and inventing new techniques. There are certainly lessons in this boat… but so much energy has gone into this one and I’m not sure if it’s going to work,


I will post in detail about the construction of the milk carton canoe next week.

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