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#30 Voyageur

Modern-day kayakers follow a heritage that goes back to voyageurs who explored North America’s rivers to bring back the riches of a continent—if they survived incredible hazards.

Signed and dated PR Drumm, 1998
Black Cherry
9” diameter x 2.5”deep

Third Prize, North Jersey Woodcarvers, 9/98
St. John’s Bernardsville 10/98
Delaware Valley Woodcarvers (Abington PA), 4/99
Kent Connecticut Art Association, 8/99
Ringwood Arts, 8/99

My older brother Jim and I kayak together several times a month on local rivers, lakes and ocean, year around. Our kayaks are tough Polyethylene rotational molded 10' Keowees, Old Town, Harmony, and Penguin. Two Stern inflatables (1- and 2-person) ensure we can take deflated rolled-up inflatables and fly to any other river, lake, and ocean in the world. Multiple kayaks of all kinds ensure friends and 6 grandchildren and mama enjoy kayaking too. 
What does this have to do with the bas-relief sculpture 'Voyageur' above? Jim and I don't like to repeat same river etc. again in any month of kayaking. He picked the headwaters of the Ramapo River to begin our mid-day's journey of about 3 hours. We left one car at a likely takeout near Tuxedo and drove on up with two Keowees to the Arden railroad station near Woodbury Commons NY. The station parking lot was filled up, so we asked a householder nearby if we could park the car there while we kayaked. No problem. The Ramapo is a brook at this point, easy to jump over. We tossed the kayaks in, and paddled off, encountering beaver dams, twists and turns, but no shallows. I happened to be ahead when I saw a 'screener', a tree across the river with barely enough clearance to duck and shoot under. Whoops! A waterfall! No way one can tell coming downstream fast, how far one will drop like a tumbling rock into debris churning at the bottom of the fall. I shot over the waterfall. It was a mere 3-4 feet, landing safely, so I spun the kayak around and took a snapshot of old brother Jim banging his head under the 'screener' and displaying a horrified face when he shot over the waterfall. Priceless. Hence, 'Voyageur' the sculpture.
I have carved different versions of this priceless memory, to the amusement of my brother Jim, who has one. The next one will be a 30" diameter 2" thick heroic sculpture in which I hope to really capture the occasion.
A Black Cherry 9" diameter cross-section 2" thick was in my basement wood pile, ideal for this carving. The photo served as guide while I scooped outlines in various depths, of fallen tree, branches, leaves, and river background in the dim distance, a nice exercise in perspective carving, something that cannot be taught but DONE. Then rough out the kayaker in his 'foreshortened' kayak ready to hurtle over the unknown (we should, but rarely 'scout out the river ahead' looking for hazards like this). I got a lot of detail into the 2" total depth and had fun creating the illusion of perspective (good practice for THE final heroic sculpture). Finally, I turned the bas-relief over and carved (scooped out) as much unnecessary wood as posssible. Black Cherry shrinks quite a bit after carving even when fairly well seasoned. Nobody wants checks (cracks) to appear in a sculpture that has taken several weeks of 2-6 hours' carving to do. The name 'Voyageur' is in memory of French Canadians who explored Canada's vast network of rivers to bring back birchbark canoe loads of furs IF they survived thousands of miles of incredible hazards, and Indians.
It is a pleasure to exhibit this one, which hangs on my private museum wall. 
ADVERTISING WELCOME ON ANY PAGE NOT ALREADY TAKEN. Contact prdrumm@gmail.com or Teri Hislop (201) 725-4428

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