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Monday, November 9, 2009

Making a Toy Canoe

On a recent walk on the local trails my daughter who loves all things Native American, found a dead White Birch tree. She was thrilled to be able to bring home a piece of bark.

It sat in my car for a few weeks until she rediscovered it while I was cleaning out the back seat. (note to self: I need to clean out the car more often) She studied it for a while and then asked if she could make a birchbark canoe for her Pocahontas doll. "Sure" I told her, but inside I was thinking that I have no idea how canoes are made.

She continued to study her bark while I finished with the car. While bringing everything indoors she told me that her bark was too stiff to bend properly, so she wanted to soak it in water. Ha! So much for me thinking that I would have to teach her how to make a canoe!

After putting the bark in the tub she went to the fridge and pulled out our maple syrup saying that she needed sap to seal the edges just like native Americans used to do. Wow!!! and No!!!

I told her that she would need to come up with another plan that wouldn't attract ants.

The wood occupied our bathroom tub overnight.

I assumed that she would forget about her project overnight. At 6 years old there are lots of things that are exciting one day, and boring the next. But she woke up and before even eating breakfast she went to check on her wood.

I helped her with designing a pattern, but she did all of the rest of the work.
She traced the pattern onto her wood using a blunt pencil.

Cut it out using kitchen shears ( I was afraid that she would ruin her regular scissors on the tough bark)

Scraped all of the remaining wood out with an old spoon. She asked if we had any clam shells for this step :o) Usually clam shells are thrown out after our meal - now I know to save one next time.

To join the edges she originally wanted to punch holes and lace it together, but by this point she was getting anxious to finish, so she switched to the very unauthentic method of stapling her bark together. It was still fairly stiff, so we used a canning jar to help keep the wood bent as she worked.

It took her a good portion of the day, but she finished it. Now her doll can travel in style.
She still hasn't decided what she will use to waterproof the seams. I can't wait to see what it will be (as long as it doesn't involve items from my refrigerator.)


Robert said...

That is an awesome canoe. You can have some of my pine sap to seal the edges.

Doris said...

Wow! I can't believe all her determination and it looks so authentic. Great job! Keep up the good work.

Ed said...

Wow! That came out great! Good job to her!