making a kayak paddle

My husband Steven has found great satisfaction since moving to Florida by taking the woodworking skills he learned from my dad . . . and then applying them to making something he knows well and loves: kayak paddles! Steven recently sent what he described as "the best paddle he ever made" up north to the wife of a very dear friend of ours, Garth. His wife Nora is the kayaker in their family! Garth was the best man at our wedding in 2005 and Steven & I have both known him forever. I was just 14 years old when I met Garth, and Steven and I originally met in 1972 because of Garth! Here’s what Nora had to say after using Steven's handmade paddle for the first time . . . the direct link to the video is here if you don’t see it below:

An enthusiastic testimonial on one of my husband's super lightweight kayak paddles. Steve Deming's paddles are handmade from cypress wood in a modified Greenland style with long, narrow, tapering blades. The paddles are all hand-shaped in Bradenton, Florida at Lucas Boatworks. They are also very lightweight, weighing only between 20 and 28 oz.

We so enjoyed received this short video from them!!! When Nora speaks of the paddle being effortless, I believe she is talking about how lightweight the paddle is, making it easy to power her boat even in winds and not get tired. Steve's paddles weigh between 20 and 28 oz, which is very light weight, but he also makes them strong.

Here is Steven in action, making a paddle in his shop . . .

He uses skills my dad taught him . . .

 yes, I gave him my bone folder for this part! He's preparing to airbrush . . .

I have put together a series of videos sharing his airbrushing and finishing process. He’s actually painting the paddle he sent to Nora in these videos. Links are below":

Part one: getting started airbrushing

Part 2: more of the process (many layers)

Part 3: finishing the paddle

I filmed and produced these videos at Steven's request and you can sometimes hear me in the background!  It was fun to do and I learned a lot about filming & editing. Below is the paddle rack Steven built outside his tent shop at Lucas Boatworks. My dad would be proud! In fact, that is my dad's John Deere tractor. Steven uses it all the time.

My dad’s John deere Tractor

My dad’s John deere Tractor

Always do right. This will gratify some of the people, and astonish the rest.
— Mark Twain

collaboration with steven ; )

The photo above shows what I did with foam block stamps on a table Steven recently made - stamping in progress.

This stamping was modeled after what I did 15 years ago, on the table shown below!

We both really liked the original table but our home in Florida is much smaller. The living room is especially tiny! So we came up with the idea to re-size some existing pieces and remove others. A boot bench is already gone. We don't really need it here!! Steven offered to make a new table. My job would be to art it up! Steven's beautiful table below.

I got out my stash of decorator Glaze and cosmetic sponges.

I like mixing the glaze right on the stamps. 

I practiced on a piece of painted scrap wood first, to get the feel of it.

my first stamp . . .

a few more are added . . . 

and more!

I added gold spatters too!  (I just can't help myself)

A day to let it dry, then Steven sanded the legs and prepared to coat the whole thing with epoxy. I really like the way he designed the legs.

After the epoxy treatment, it came home to our living room. It’s difficult to photograph because it is so shiny, but you get the idea.

I love it! This new table fits so much better. Thank you, Steven! xoxo

To do the useful thing, to say the courageous thing, to contemplate the beautiful thing: that is enough for one man’s life.
— T.S. Elliot

steven's art: handcrafted paddles

My husband Steven started making handcrafted, custom made paddles earlier this year. It was a natural thing actually. He was a white water kayak guy for many, many years and he still loves flat water paddling.

He always tells me that the paddle is your connection to the water. When we moved here, he spent much time with my dad learning woodworking skills he never had before, so he was in perfect alignment for this. I believe his paddle making started with my friend Cheryl Wilson, who gave him the idea to make a stand up paddle (SUP) for paddle boarding. Here’s Steven with his first hand crafted paddles on December 31st, 2011! The SUP paddle is hanging right next to him.

Here's me and cheryl with her finished SUP paddle on January 7, 2012

Since then Steven has been perfecting his skills . . . 

He has even gotten out his airbrush and tried various kinds of wood and techniques.

His paddles are purposely extremely lightweight, weighing only 20-25 ozs. They are also very beautiful.

These paddles are practically dripless (no water on your lap when kayaking) because of the way Steven shapes the paddle blades; see below. He uses tools that were my dad's to make these including some tools that dad made, keeping dad and all he taught us in our hearts and in our spirits.

The blue speckled paddle above is Cheryl's new kayak paddle!

I have just finished editing and producing a set of videos that show Steven's process of airbrushing a "night sky" / star design. One day I went to Lucas Boatworks where Steven spends time working on these paddles and other boat related things and filmed him as he worked. I will embed this first video here. There are 3 videos total and you can find them here on my YouTube site if you so desire a peek into his art! I am obviously very proud of him. There was a lot of raw film that had to be edited and I had to learn how to do it . . .  but I did not mind the work at all. xoxo

Part 1 of 3: Steve Deming gives a demo on how he airbrushes the handle caps of his handmade Kayak paddles. The paddle he works on in this video has a beautiful 'starry night sky' design. His paddles are all hand made from cypress wood in a modified Greenland style with long, narrow, tapering blades.
Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage.
— Anais Nin

More lesson 4 - then some more on me!

I am taking a stamp carving class with Julie Balzer and originally wrote about what I did in lesson 4 here, in case you missed it. This particular lesson is about creating a series or set of stamps to use together. At the beginning of the video Julie showed us a banner shaped set she made with a cute little flat top, but then she went on to make a chevron set with a pointed top for the actual lesson. I really liked the banner shape and decided to make my first set that way. While I love this cute set of stamps I made . . .
. . . I just could not get that chevron shaped set out of my head! In fact, I found I couldn't move forward to lesson 5 until I made a set with a pointed top that could link together nicely. My "test" sheet is at the top of this post and you can see how I took my "flower" stamp and kind of linked it all together on the left. I am going through the lessons and carving my stamps pretty quickly (impatient to see my carved stamps!) so I figured more practice would be good for me. Below is my process of my second try with lesson 4:

Getting the shapes cut evenly is hard for me
All carved! My stamps are messy but okay.
Practice makes perfect!
A tag for me on the left and one for my friend, Linda K on the right.
Gosh, you must go visit her blog (link above!). Her chevron stamps are so, so cool!
plus she writes about how we talked with each other on the phone : )

For these tags I spritzed them all with water first to see what would happen when I stamped them with wet, dye ink. Just a little experiment for part 2 of lesson 4. I promise now to go on to lesson 5! Below are my banner stamps (L) in comparison with my chevron set (R):

And here are ALL the stamps I have carved so far in Julie's class:
Stamp carving 101 (click to leaarn more!)

This class has been totally enjoyable for me so far and I love having something to work on and learn/practice. I also find that doing the class at the same time as my friend Linda has really helped keep me on track. I love making tags for both of us after each lesson. What fun that will be to send & receive when the class is completed for us. And we got to speak on the phone together! I believe I have 5 more lessons to do. 

Besides carving stamps I played a little bit with watercolor blocks (like crayons) and soft pastels the other day and made a colorful piece on watercolor paper. I don't know what I will do with it yet but it was great to play in the spirit of the class I took with Bill Buchman. Here's a look:

I continue to take many photographs, most every day and try to upload one per day to my blipfoto journal
I have been able to return to dancing at Nia and Conscious movement . . . I am still going to physical therapy twice a week for my frozen shoulder but have improved by leaps and bounds! There are just a few rotating kind of movements that are not there for me yet, but I a happy to be able to dance again and do most things. My mom is doing well and Steven and I will visit with her tonight. Steven has made over 20 paddles now and he has been selling some. ; ) I am working on a 3-part video of his paddle painting process (editing now) and will share it soon. 
Our wedding anniversary is Monday and we are going to drive to the other coast of Florida, watch the sun rise over the beach on the east coast of FL, drive back home and watch the sun set over the beach on the west coast of FL, all on the same day - June 11, our 7th wedding anniversary! I do not think there are too many places you can do that . . . this is Steve's idea and since it is only a 3 and a half hour drive - so I said, why not? I am sure it will be memorable. 

Hope you are well, take care till next time. Any questions or problems with the new blog layout - template I am using, please contact me. If you are on the blog & click on comments, you may have to scroll down to see the comment box!

Nature gives you the face you have at twenty, it is up to you to merit the face you have at fifty.
  ~ Coco Chanel

palma sola botanical park festival

It has been a gorgeous day here in Palma Sola, Florida . . . . Steven was asked to show off his wee lassie sailing canoe and his handmade paddles as part of the Traditional Boat Exhibit at the Palma Sola Botanical Park's Spring Plant Sale and festival ; ) There was sunshine & live music too!

The Botanical gardens -my new Sony camera takes panoramic photos - it is amazing!
The boat in the pond was made by local builder Nick Baden.

Steven describing how he made his sailing canoe . . . 
while the pups find some shade ; ) click for details

The festival was also a plant sale to benefit the botanical gardens

Steven's paddles were a hit! He had a few inquiries and cards taken . . . 
yes, that is my Lumiere paint adorning them! 

If you would like to stroll through a beautiful botanical garden and see some sights, 
including an Annihinga (snake bird) follow the link here. Enjoy! 

yours creatively, lenna 

paddles and paint. oh my!

The Lumiere paint and the new design has been a hit; Steven already has orders for three kayak paddles! He has perfected the design of a lightweight handmade kayak paddle that Dave Lucas originally showed him at the boat shop... Steven's paddle blades are made now so that hardly any water drips into the boat or on your lap. If you have kayaked before you know what I am talking about, you usually get wet ; ) Here's a great photo of Steven with 2 of his handmade paddles I took in our kitchen the other night. The kayak paddle shown weighs only 27 oz. and the stand up paddle, only 22 oz!! Talk about less fatique when paddling! Plus, they are made very strong with good wood laminated with fiberglass. A slideshow of the process is here.

One of the paddles Steven's holding is the kayak paddle he made for me. The other one is the stand up paddle he made for me with the special 'S' design, xoxo. This is all for when my arm is better and I can go kayaking again or learn SUP! Unfortunately, I over-stretched my shoulder and arm in a yoga class on February 1st - that long ago.  My doctor says it's tendinitis, which is really no fun and slow to heal. It is very difficult to not re-injure my over-stretched tendons in just regular everyday movements, but I am trying. Steven had tendinitis once when he was a whitewater kayak-er and tells me it could be 3 or 4 months till it is healed. argh.

The last time I posted I showed you Steven's test piece with Lumiere on a small piece of prepared wood. Since that was successful he tried the technique on a canoe paddle he recently made from extra wood, which you'll see below . . .

Asia wants to know if she has to pose with the paddle? So cute!
She is 10 years old now if you can believe . . . loves her daddy.
Goes boating with him any chance she gets!

Just look at the Lumiere paint over the black, wow! 

I think this is a great idea and I'm so glad some other people do too! 

I really love seeing Steven find his way into doing something creative that he can possibly make some money at. Something that can showcase his numerous artistic talents, and something that he loves doing!!  
So, so happy for him. 

steve & lenna 
March 11, 2012

Steven is stealing my paint!

Well, Steven is not really stealing my paint, I gave him permission! He's working on a new design for kayak paddles: drip-less,lightweight paddles -that don't drip a lot of water into the kayak. See the original photos of making these paddles here. He has made some 'non-boring' ones (a joke between us) with a nice contrasting piece of cedar in the handles . . . but he wanted to design a few kayak paddles where he used paint for the 'zing' instead of contrasting wood. He asked if he could he use some of my Lumiere paint?? why yes, perhaps for a kiss I said . . . and below is his test piece. I'll return at another time to show you a finished paddle painted with Lumiere.

Steven painted a masked off area and painted with black first, then sponged on blue & green Lumiere. Click on any photo for more paddle testing details and paint wow-ability! This sample is smaller that the real paddle handle will be.

He is looking like he really stole my paints! 

This looks very promising -- and, he has an order already! 

A curious happening . . .
Earlier today I was shocked to discover that this blog and my creative swaps blog and another blog I have set up but not published to yet (a photo blog) were truly removed from the world wide web!! When I went to the blog addresses I saw a page that said they no longer existed and had been removed. I questioned blogger via a form and sent in a verification code they text messaged me. After an hour or two, my blogs were back again. When I was asked to verify myself blogger said something about unusual activity on my sites . . . I don't know what it was (the solar flares?? a spammer?) but I am glad to have them back, especially this blog. It is a 5 year journey of my art and life. I really would have been okay without it, but I am glad it has returned!!

last night Steven took this photo, I'm
wearing necklaces from Frieda and Cat D-E
thank you again! 

our favorite holiday

more than christmas, birthdays, new years or even election day, Steven and I love valentine's day.

I stitched on a canvas leftover from a class
then collaged with various papers
and added eco hearts from ARTchix Studio.

 the finished piece - the words are from an ARTchix Studio sheet: perfect! 

 I added mail art even though this collage was hand delivered! 
I used an envelope I received in the Vintage Note Card Swap from 
Lynda Roddy Ozzauto to hold the collage, but added rubber stamps to personalize it.  

Steven was very excited to give me his gift - he etched these wine 
glasses secretly with moons & stars ;  ) amazing!
He had made 2 for us a few years ago and alas, they had both broken.
Click for details.

Steven made the card too . . . and then added his logo (and a price-ha!)


loving wishes to you & yours -
lenna & steve

where does the time go?

I returned home Monday night from my travels to Connecticut to see my sister and visit with our families -her boys, my boys, extended family and friends. Now it's Saturday already! Geeze. Tuesday morning I was up bright and early to drive to Siesta Key for one of my Nia classes. It was very windy that day and the surf was loud but we still had a great class none-the-less. I dressed in layers and peeled them off.

A windy day on Siesta Key in Florida

I could not resist snapping a photo during class; what wonderful movement.

Below, I love these pen shells, I think they're called. I pick them up 
all the time (to use in my art) and feel like a regular magpie!

I joined Facebook this week, or was that late last week before traveling? Doing that has kept me really busy - learning how to use it. My account is here and I have started a creative lenna page which is somehow connected. I have not really figured it all out yet. I resisted joining Facebook for many years until I started doing Nia and going to Conscious Movement and Gratitude dancing -all here in Florida. If I wanted to receive announcements for upcoming events for these things, Facebook was how the word was spread. So I caved, and so far, it does not seem as bad as I thought it might be, so it's all good! 
On Wednesday, I took the dogs to De Soto Memorial for a walk and we spied a beautiful white egret.

Whoops!! That's our dog Asia, of course! 
Although, Steven often tells people she's part white egret as a joke : )

On Thursday, I captured some beautiful butterflies that love the flowers in my 
front yard . . .  click for a closer look.

Steven and I visited my mom on Thursday and took some photos of mom's pup, Loki.
He's a white standard poodle and really large for his age. He's only 6 months and teething!


Friday, Nia on Longboat Key beach was on my schedule and it was a beautiful day. There is really something to be said for moving barefoot on the beach, watching the birds as you stretch up towards the clouds, moving all your muscles in the wind, feeling strong and powerful . . . and we even saw two dolphins jumping out of the water as we were dancing yesterday.

The temps are still warm enough to swim if you are brave! 
Yes, there are seasons in Florida. Right now the temps are in the 50's - 80's.

My instructor on the beach, Kathy Oravec.
I can't say enough good things about this program, Nia.

Friday afternoon Steven wanted to bring me over to Lucas Boatworks and show me what they have been working on . . . look at this tiny Kayak being made from a kit!
It is for Kayak Kathy's 4 year old granddaughter, Izzy. 
Steven volunteered to make Izzy a wee kayak paddle.

my stamped coffee table is being refinished; I stamped this in 1998. 
Steven is giving it a fresh coat of epoxy to make it shine again.

I just loved how this wood shaving on his work table looked!

Steven showing me how he is shaping the kayak paddles he's making with my dad's tools.

I have a sketchbook to work in (two actually) and some colorful ATCs and luscious 4x4's are waiting to be made. I will be getting to all of this soon I know. In the meantime, I keep taking photographs and dancing! 
My very best to you, lenna

shells of love

I made this for my son Dallas and his new wife Liz. They married on October 1, the same day my dad died. Bittersweet day for me as I was with my mom and dad where I wanted and needed to be, but not with my son as the wedding was in Massachusetts. I will bring this wedding present to them this weekend when I return to the North-lands (not Florida) for a family visit -my first time away from Florida in 2 years! 

Steven made the wooden heart shaped base for me at Lucas Boatworks where he has been doing tons of beautiful work, a lot of it with my dad's stash of wood, dad's tools and the skills dad taught him. How cool is that?? Dad is still here with us in a way. The shells that adorn the wood are very special (I think). Last January, Dallas and Liz had a break from their jobs in Italy and made time to visit Steven and I for 4 days or so while they were back in the States. They borrowed my car (and my camera) one day and went to the beach, 2 different beaches I think! 

They jumped for joy because they were in love and they were getting married this October.

They gathered shells . . .

They brought the shells back to our home, saved in a clear plastic bag. When Steven and I got home from bringing them to the airport at the end of their visit, I marveled at the changed sheets in the guest bedroom. Then I found the bag of shells on the bureau. Dallas and Liz obviously decided not to bring them with them as they were heading all the way back to Italy to finish the school year. Ah ha! (my little brain thought). I will save these shells they collected and make something for them someday. And so I did. This is just the type of creating I love to do. 

Dallas Chandler Foster and Elizabeth Kee Porter Hood
October 1, 2011

with love, lenna