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Almost Done

The life of my bark canoe, the bake oven, my current moccasin orders… they are all almost done.

Last summer started with some big repairs to my birch bark canoe. When the summer ended a few minor repairs were again needed but didn’t get done. Most of this summer, the canoe stayed in the garage. A couple of weeks ago, I finally got a chance to go out with the canoe, but I didn’t have time to make the needed repairs. It got us down the 20+ miles of the Black River, but is now in need of SERIOUS repair. We broke two thwarts, and I cracked a gunwale. I can totally do the needed repairs, but I am seriously questioning how many more miles this 30 year old (guessed) canoe will make it before it is retired to display only. By the way, if anyone want my canoe for such a thing, feel free to email me and make an offer… seriously!

On a more positive note, the bake oven is almost done. Ever since my first year working at Grand Portage National Monument, I have dreamed about building myself a clay bake oven. This summer I made that dream reality. I dug the clay and sand locally and the foundation blocks are old stone blocks from a neighbor’s collapsed barn. It turned out great and now I just need to brush up on my baking skills! For directions/info… again, I can’t more highly recommend Kiko Denzer’s book or for a more historical look, The Bread Ovens of Quebec, by Boily and Blanchette which can be read in full text here.

Finally, this past spring I started taking orders for making moccasins. I quickly filled the dozen orders of German-tanned moccasins, but I was having trouble getting the needed brain-tanned hides for the final dozen moccasins. After a lot of frustration, I contacted Oliver McCloskey of UT and he quickly got me some beautiful hides. I am now ALMOST DONE with my current orders, many of which have been waiting for 2-3 months.

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