Monday, September 30, 2013

...flattened away towards either end...

Drawing the Beothuk bow
Both reproduction Beothuk bows can be fully drawn now up to 30 or 32 inches.  I haven't checked the draw weight lately, but I can tell that its going up as they continue to dry.  One of the bows seems more or less stable.  If I set it down for a couple days it looks about the same the next time I pick it up.  The other one has a tendency to twist as it dries and I've been trying to stay on it with heat bending to keep up with the warping.  The one that wants to twist is noticeable stronger than the more stable one, perhaps both properties are related to the fact that it was made on the smaller of the two saplings.  Either way, I suspect that it will be the one that I keep for myself and send the more stable one to the client for their display.

Strung with rawhide
The rain finally stopped over the weekend and the rawhide bowstrings dried.  I added them to the bows today, but haven't trimmed them to length yet.  They're a nice addition, both aesthetically and functionally, they make a better, tighter bow.  The next time that I work on the bows, I'll probably start burnishing the wood with antler and then add the ochre stain.  I still plan to putter away at them over the next few weeks, occasionally stringing and drawing them.  I don't want to send one to the client until I'm sure that it will be stable.

The more I work on them, the more they start to look like each other.  The shape is partly due to the nature of the wood, the design elements that are unique to Beothuk bows, and my own input.

Drawing the second bow
These photos are my first time seeing the bows drawn outside of the tillering board.  There might be some small adjustments to make, but they aren't too bad looking.  When I was tillering, I kept in mind George Wells observation of Beothuk bows:

Beothuk bow fragments
from Howley 1914
They were thick in the central part but flattened away towards either end, where the spring chiefly lay. George Wells 1886

Based on this statement and the photo of the child's bow, I knew that I wanted to concentrate most of the flex in the limbs.  When the bow was drawn, I wanted the centre to have little or no flex to it, while the limbs should noticeable bend.  In the photo of Beothuk bow pieces to the left (taken from Howley 1914) the child's bow labelled D and E show the slight bend in the middle of the limbs that I was trying to match in the reproductions. Imagine that bow strung and drawn and that's the shape I was trying to accomplish on the tillering board in these scaled up adult sized reproductions.

Photo Credits:  Tim Rast

Howley, James P. 1914 The Beothuck or Red Indians: The Aboriginal Inhabitants of Newfoundland. Cambridge University Press. Cambridge

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