Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Looking for willow shoots

Collecting sticks
I've collected the wood for a first attempt at the Dorset drums from Bylot Island.  I don't know what sort of wood was used for the original drums, but arctic willow is the only option if the drums were constructed from locally available materials.  Willow grows throughout the arctic as a low lying shrub that sprawls along the ground.  Occasionally, in very sheltered locations with the right sort of micro climate, you will find willows growing vertically up to a metre high.  Given the dimensions of the Dorset drums, I believe they could have been constructed from one of these tall willows growing in a protected location.  Here in St. John's, I found some nice straight willow shoots that I think will work for the drum.

We took the clipboard on the willow
 hunt, because it makes you look
official when you are wandering
 around pruning trees.
At least I think they're willow.  The willow species that are native to Newfoundland grow low along the ground like arctic willow and a lot of them are endangered or not found near St. John's.  I need to go with an introduced species of willow.  I found what I think is a windblown willow tree with lots of nice straight shoots to choose from, but I'm not 100% certain that I got the identification right.  The twigs and buds look like willow to me, but I'm not expert.  I used an online twig identification key and it told me they were some sort of willow as well, so I'm satisified enough to proceed with the bending and shaping.

Arctic Willow on Baffin Island

Next up - bending the sticks.
Photo Credits:
1,2: Lori White
3,4: Tim Rast

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