Friday, April 27, 2007

Fillet in the bow

Busy studio, messy too!

The studio is feeling a bit small as I am trying to get this painting finished while working on two boats. The one in the front here is a nutshell pram my dad and I built four years ago. I realized when we moved to Stonington, that if I wanted to do paintings of boats, I needed to have a boat to get out into the harbor to see them. It's been a couple of years and a few knocks around the dinghy dock and is now time for new varnish and paint.

The kayak
I removed the temporary frames from the hull. I was wishing I had used a lot less hot glue to attach them when I realized that epoxy had come through the wire holes and was holding them in place too. It took quite a while to get those frames out of there, still could have used a lot less hot glue. Then I cleaned up the inside of the hull, removing blobs of epoxy that came through the wire holes (next time should tape them up), rough wood, and gummy hot glue.

Fillet in bow

Then I filled any wire holes that didn't get filled with epoxy and put a little in the seams so the fiberglass will lay flat. I also added the fillet on the keel in the bow and stern. This makes the ends stronger and smoother for the fiberglass cloth to lie on. And put a couple of layers of fiberglass strips over the bow seam to reinforce it. Today I will fiberglass the interior on the hull.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Pots in progress, kayak too

New pots

Today I had my clay class with Frank Pitcher. Here are a few pots I am working on. These are dry but not fired yet. They are made on the wheel then cut, shaped, and grated.

Here's Frank (with his cups in front) talking with Maureen.

Spring is here. You can tell, not by the weather, but how busy everyone has gotten. Summer is our busy season in coastal Maine, whether your work is tourist based, fishing, construction, whatever. Most meetings aren't held in the summer, the potluck dinners end, adult ed classes and dancing lessons are all on hold while people concentrate on their work and businesses, gardens, and visitors. So spring is preparation for summer, the boats are painted, the brochures go to the printer, the plans for summer festivals and events are finalized. Monday I worked on a t-shirt layout, poster design, had a Lupine Festival meeting, Chamber of Commerce meeting (only went to half of that one), and Deer Isle Art Association dinner meeting. I also varnished my nutshell pram, worked on the kayak, and managed to get a bit of painting in too. Why didn't I have time to write my blog?

Even though I have a tight time frame for getting the kayak done, I like the quiet directed work that it takes to put the boat together. There are some parts that just can't be rushed. The kayak continues....

The deck is remove from the hull and turned over for reinforcement. I add three layers of fiberglass tape to the seams of the butt blocks.

A layer of fiberglass will be laid down over the recessed deck to give it strength. First I fill in any area that might keep the fiberglass cloth from lying flat or might trap air.

Fiberglass tape is used the strengthen each seam. Then a layer of epoxy is used to coat the whole underside of the deck. Then another layer.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Back to building a kayak

The building of my coho continues on, through the storm, power outages, and taxes. I have now fiberglassed the outside of the hull and am ready to assemble the deck.

First I trim off the excess fiberglass cloth from the hull. Then the hull is turned right side up and the pieces that form the deck are wired together.

The deck panels are wired together.

bout this time I am beginning to wonder about the estimated 70 hours that it is supposed to take to build this boat. The simple directions call to align the deck panels to the hull panels and tape in place. It took hours. I don't know if it was my need for perfection, the fact these panels are several years warped, I don't know, but hours later, and with lots of extra wires, pins and yards of tape.....and clamps.....


tape, pins, wire, and clamps

Next, epoxy is filled in the seams. The green is tape to keep the deck from getting messy. I have to admit I am getting kind of fond of green on this boat. I am still thinking of painting the hull, maybe orange, maybe a green stripe....

Saturday, April 21, 2007

A few more storm photos

People drive around to view the storm and check on boats.

Big waves in the harbor, (this boat is not sinking)

Boats, Stonington through the rain in the background.

It's very difficult to photograph a storm. The waves look smaller in the photo, the color is different, and you really can't see how windy it was or cold it felt, and there's no sound. Most people I've talked to made it through the storm just fine. There were a few washed out driveways and some dock damage, and the power and phone lines were down. Being on an island, we don't get flooding like so many others had with this storm. And we get enough wind here that the fisherman have figured out how to keep their boats secure.

And then today was beautiful, that first perfect day of spring.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Storm in Stonington

Here are a few photos of our quiet harbor today.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Stonington Prepares for Storm

We are expecting the storm that has hit the rest of the eastern part of the country to arrive in the night. I know we are in for some heavy weather when the boats are tied up to the fish pier like this. We are expecting winds of 30-40 MPH with gusts up to 65.

Main Street is really quiet.

Fill coat

second epoxy fill coat

The boat gets two coats of epoxy to fill in the weave of the fiberglass. Also a strip of fiberglass tape is added to the keel. I had a couple of long days painting in my studio and worked on the boat late into the night. I think it is taking me longer than it should to do everything. Maybe I am trying to be too careful in my work. Even though I am careful there are few rough spots as seen in the photo below. I just could not get that fiberglass tape to lay down. I used pins and poked at it but it kept coming up. I cut off the high parts with a utility knife before applying the second coat of fill epoxy.

all is not neat and tidy

I have a time limit for how long it can take me to finish the boat. The high school will use the gallery for their art show and need the space by the 8th of May. And we are planning on going away for a week for our last get away before the summer gallery season starts. So I marked up a calendar to see if I can get it done. It will be very tight. The sanding, painting, and finishing will be done after the epoxy has cured, probably outside, later. I made up my schedule three days ago and am already a day behind.

boat, painting, view of harbor

But I had to spend some time painting. I am trying to avoid working in the studio with fresh epoxy fumes so I work on the boat at the end of the day.

Michael and Todd went out kayaking yesterday. Even though it is April, it is still winter here in Maine. Here they are getting their gear on. That's a lot of yellow. I am thinking of painting my boat..... orange....

Check out the Stonington seakayak blog Sea Kayak Stonington

Friday, April 13, 2007


Isalos Fine Art/Boat Shop

Putting the fiberglass on. This is the part I have worried about the most. I've helped my Dad fiberglass one of the boats he built and it was exhausting and frustrating work. But his boat was built outside in the summer so it was hotter so the epoxy cured faster, there were leaves and bugs, and it was a bigger boat. I read all I could first, but words aren't the same as actually seeing how much epoxy to use and what the fiberglass should look and feel like. After the first coat of epoxy that embeds the fiberglass, you add two fill coats that fill the weave of the fiberglass. The fill coats have to go on within 72 hours for epoxy to bond, and the boat has to stay clean.

My favorite quote about this whole epoxy process is from Kayaks You Can Build , "And, if you can, keep fondling to a minimum between the critical layers." This is really funny because it's almost impossible to be in a room with a boat that's being built out of wood and not touch it. Everyone that sees the boat has to touch it. I have my hands on it constantly.

Here I am smoothing the fiberglass cloth out, not fondling the boat - it feels like smooth dry snake skin, nice.

To roll....
or brush? Once again, I had different recommendations and so I tried them both. The rolling was faster but left extra epoxy on the seams, the brush slower and neater but not always as even. Or so it seemed at the time, looking at it this morning the rolled areas don't look all that even.

The stern is tricky, you have to cut the fiberglass and wrap it around the edge. The first side was beautiful, the second a bit messier, with little strings fraying off.

Michael helped me by mixing epoxy so I had a never ending supply ready. Even so, I felt like this picture he put together.

So the dreaded fiberglassing went OK. I took a look at it this morning. Not too bad, there are some shiny spots with a bit too much epoxy, I should have squeegeed a bit more in some areas but I was also worried about starving the fiberglass too. And it was starting to set up on me. Now I know, for the next boat....

It might seem like I spend all my time working on the kayak, and admittedly it has taken over my studio as well as my time, but I am working on a few other things as well. Here is an ad I put together that will be in the June/July issue of Maine Boats, Homes & Harbors magazine.

Rebecca's website
Isalos Fine Art
Pygmy Boats
Kayaks You Can Build
Maine Boats, Homes, & Harbors magazine.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Injecting epoxy

Injecting epoxy

Work continues on the kayak. The next step was to fill the seams with epoxy. Once again I had to decide between the directions in the construction manual or the Kayaks You Can Build book. I decided to try both and see how it went. The book calls for taping off the seam and putting a putty thick epoxy in the seam. (You can see that in the back with the blue tape).The manual calls for a thinner epoxy that is injected in the seam. The putty was neater, the injected was faster, in end, I ran out tape and used a combination.

After the epoxy cures, I remove all the wires. I actually got a blister from that.

After all the wires are removed I went over the hull removing lumps of epoxy where the wires were, refilled any low spots, and rounded the keel area. I love my cabinet scraper!

Next I put on a saturation coat. This is to saturate the wood so it doesn't suck epoxy out of the fiberglass layer and "starve" the fiberglass. I actually called Pygmy Boats to see if I needed this because, once again, the book and manual differ. But the guys who wrote the book have more experience fiberglassing and probably know just how much epoxy they need to keep the fiberglass full. I don't, so I thought I would add this extra step.

Hull half saturated.

I am planning on painting the hull of this boat, but you can see here why most people who build these boats just can't bring themselves to cover up this pretty wood.

Tomorrow I fiberglass. Hmm, maybe I better do some painting too.

Links for this post:
Pygmy Boats
Kayaks You Can Build

Monday, April 9, 2007

Building a kayak in an art gallery

Hi, welcome to my blog about painting, boats, art, and living in a small town in coastal Maine. I meant to start this blog some time ago, before I started building my kayak. Now I have a lot of people asking how the boat building is going so I thought I'd really better get the blog going so they can check it out.

I am building a Pygmy Coho kayak. I'm building it it our art gallery because it's the only large
heated area I have to work in. The gallery, Isalos Fine Art, is open, but this is a slow time of year for us in Downeast Maine. The first step to building the boat was to get the gallery moved around, build a table, gather tools and set up the boat building area. Lucky for me, our neighbor had a huge crate he was taking to dump that just happened to be convertible to a seventeen and half-foot table (the kayak is just over 17 feet).

Here's Michael taking the crate apart.

We put paper down to protect the floor.

The table looked like such a good work surface that I had to spend a few days stretching canvases.

With a good stock of canvases ready I can now start building the kayak. The Coho is a kit that comes from Pygmy in two boxes. One box containes the epoxy and small bits, the other forty pieces of wood that will become the kayak. I am the third owner of the kit and it is now five years old. I was a little worried that the epoxy might be too old or a few pieces missing. But a phone call to Pygmy assured me the epoxy would be OK, and an inspection of the box found all the bits and pieces there - and evidence that a mouse had inspected it at some time too.

Just out of the box.

All accounted for.

The first step is to epoxy the panels together. The hardest part was finding enough heavy things to weigh it down.

In addition to the constuction manual, I am looking at
Kayaks You Can Build by Ted Moores and Greg Rossel. It's a great book and has good photos. They build three kayaks and one is the Coho. But they do put it together a little differently than the construction manual, so at each stage I read both and decide which way I am going to put it together. I did take the book's suggestion to build the cradles for the boat to rest on. I 'm really glad I did this even though it took me an extra day.

The first panels sitting in the cradle.

After glueing all the panels together I drilled holes every six inches. My parents came to visit around this time; my Dad, who really wants to build this boat, got a few hours of helping time in. We built a jig to measure the holes (using the metal strapping from the crate that became the table), drilled some holes and cut and bent wires in preperation for stitching it all together. Unfortunatley, one of the panels broke apart and had to be reglued so they weren't here for the exciting part when it starts to look like a boat.

More panels and temporary frames that help direct the shape.

The hull from the stern looking foward.

Our cat, Wendell, checks it out.

The hull gets turned over. At this point the whole thing is held together by wires. I check to make sure it is straight and the panels line up before the epoxy is put in the seams.

Wow !