I recently started rolling my own black and white film, which forced me to break out the canisters to process said film. then i needed a way to look at the film so i setup the enlarger and bought chemical and here we are. I have a working darkroom. this is pretty exciting. I’ve been keeping most of the prints ‘offline’ by not sharing through social media. But i think i might post an album here on my website. I’d like for people to see them, but the hope is that they’ll see them in person and hold the photos in their hands. I’ll also be mailing prints to those who ask. so, if you’re reading this and you’re thinking ‘hey, i might like a small print of Echo & Bear for my refrigerator!’ then don’t hesitate to email me: gray at graylikethecolor dot com (if you can’t figure out that email address how did you even get on the internet).
so, i’ve been assembling a darkroom for many years now. i recently came upon a storage unit and a seller who wanted to rid themselves of their gear. so i scored. This is a color enlarger and i’ll use it to print black and white photos. the magenta & yellow filters make it much easier to dial in the contrast.
air bubbles and fiberglass are bad. if you get air bubbles under your fiberglass you have to patch them, if they’re on the exterior of the hull, or just sand and fill if they’re on the interior. my haste to get this damn thing finished produced many, many air bubbles, which you can’t really see in the photo below. but i promise. they’re there. Also, when we didn’t remove excess resin we ended up creating spots all over the interior, which show up, at least to me, after putting on the fiberglass. it kind of sucks especially after all this time and effort put in, but you learn more from mistakes than just reading a book and i know exactly how i’ll prevent these mistakes on the next canoe. this is, after all, the ‘practice’ canoe. I was going to choose darker woods to use for the gunwales, thwarts and seats so as not to distract from the inside of the canoe. but now, with all the spots and imperfections i’m thinking a light wood might be a better idea. to draw the eyes away from the mistakes! oh well. next step is sanding the interior and building the gunwales, thwarts & seats.
sanding out the interior to prepare for the interior fiberglass. we had to plug the holes with epoxy & filler and made some mistakes. well, we thought we were doing the right thing. well… yes and no. When you’re filling cracks with epoxy, to form a better seal, it’s imperative to get as much excess epoxy off the surface as possible. otherwise you’ll be sanding for the rest of your life. it also creates more problems with an uneven surface. We thought we were getting ahead of the game friday night by covering most of the interior with epoxy as a filler coat, which is necessary, but it was a mistake. we ended up sanding most of that off but not completely, so there were spots. so many spots. we went ahead with the fiberglass when we probably should’ve taken another half day of sanding to get everything super smooth, applied a true base layer of epoxy, sanded that and THEN put on the fiberglass. but we didn’t. and haste does in fact make waste.
finished with the cane, on the practice chair. I’m ok with this being practice because since i’ve done this i know i can do it again. And i think that’s a larger lesson on this project. you have a general fear of something when you’ve never done it before. like overhauling an engine. or building a canoe. but once you dig in and start doing, that fear subsides. you start making mistakes but that’s just part of learning. nothing is perfect, there are blemishes everywhere. But the mistakes are where the learning is. I have a few steps left on the practice chair but i’m ready for the real deal!
the biggest lesson i’ve learned from this entire project is that it’s best to do something in practice before doing it for real. take fiberglass, for example. the book says to practice your fiberglass & epoxy skills on a spare piece of wood before going at it on the canoe because mistakes will be made. better to make them on the practice piece than the real thing. so when building the seats we decided to make a practice seat to cane. we probably should’ve practiced before fiberglassing but that fix is waiting for me at the finish line. So the process for caning is fairly simple: weave vertical, horizontal and diagonal lines. It’s important to keep the cane facing in the same direction and it’s also important to keep your weaving patterns consistent. in this photo i’m almost done with the fourth pass. After this will be the diagonal passes.
did a quick test to see how big the canoe looks next to the truck. my plan is to carry the canoe upside down on top of the truck. I might add a rail over the cab of the truck and then use a trailer hitch rig to support the rear. I’d like to go the trailer hitch route so that when the truck is topless she can still carry the canoe. we’ll see how that works out but for now, you can see how the 18 foot canoe fits on top of the 14 foot truck.
we flipped the canoe! but in a good way!! after sanding the shine away from the exterior we were FINALLY able to remove the stations and sterns. Flipping the canoe is super easy because this boat is very light. I could lift one end with one arm and carry it, which will come in handy down the line. The next step is going through the same steps as we did the exterior: sanding/filling/fiberglassing. We’ll be using the 1st and last stations to help make a mold for the dry compartments in the bow and stern.
its so beautiful and shiny i don’t to sand, but alas it must be. before flipping the canoe we have to sand the epoxy in prep for the eventual coat of varnish, which will be the LAST thing we do before putting it in the water. we’re using 80 grit paper and an orbital sander with a shop vac attachment. and yes, i wore safety equipment, mom.
this is a close up of what sanded epoxy looks like as well as what sanding through fiberglass looks like. don’t do this. the fix is kinda shitty and will require patching the fiberglass. i mean, it’s not the end of the world but i could’ve avoided this if i’d been more careful. also, those little holes above and just to the right of that spot are more fixes that must be made. yay epoxy & fiberglass!