We’re packed up and almost ready to take off. We’ll be gone on expedition until June 24th. We’re aiming for Green’s Island tonight. Then, we hope to sail out to Mount Desert Rock to see whales. Stay tuned for more details when we’re back.
Welcome to the Apprenticeshop Blog!
Here, students and staff will share some of the conversations, images, thoughts, and stories that make up our collective experience as members of the shop.
There are a few new faces around the shop this week. Rosie Sokolov (below) is a prospective student, originally from Massachusetts, doing her volunteer week at the shop. She has some experience working in both house carpentry and on boats. Prior to her visit here, she spent 3 months as a student at Albaola, the boatbuilding school in the Basque country in Spain. She’s hoping to continue her education in boatbuilding and seamanship.
We also have two exchange students visiting from Skol ar Mor, a boatbuilding school in the Northwest of France. Giacomo (below left) is originally Italian but lives in Nantes and Martin (below right) is Belgian. They’ll spend the next 3 weeks with us working on boats. They’ll even get to participate in the first part of our annual summer expedition on the twins. We’re very excited to share skills and knowledge and perhaps learn a little French in the meantime.
Lately, there’s been a lot of buzz about women in the trades. Women account for a small fraction of the workforce in fields like construction, plumbing, and, yes, boatbuilding. There are many reasons why - historical precedent, lack of exposure at an early age, social norms that dictate what kinds of careers people choose and who gets hired, to name a few.
But there are some organizations working to counteract that. Girls Build is a nonprofit organization founded in 2016 that teaches girls the basics of carpentry, plumbing, electricity, and other skilled trades. Their all-female team of instructors run a series of weeklong camps in Oregon and Washington in which they teach around 40 girls different kinds of building and making skills. ‘“If you want to help women get into the trades at an earlier age and start taking advantage of being in a career that they love—and working in a living-wage career—then you need to start engaging them at a younger age,’ said Katie Hughes, founder and executive director of Girls Build.” You can read more about them here or check out their website here.
If you’ve been keeping up with our newsletter, you’ve probably seen something about the Sea Rocket project our Maritime Skills students have been working on in partnership with Ocean explorer and submersible inventor Graham Hawkes (you can learn more about Hawkes and the Sea Rocket here).
Our students fabricated the parts and assembled the rockets. Now, they’re in the testing phase. The video below shows footage from the first drop. On the left, you can see the footage taken by the GoPro attached to the bottom of the Sea Rocket. On the right, you can see footage taken by instructor Terry Moore of the Sea Rocket as it is released into the water and comes back up again.
Daniel has been doing short demos after lunch at the beginning of every week. Owen was kind enough to sketch a few of the things he learned about hand planes during one of the demos.
What do apprentices do on a Saturday night? Well, this past Saturday, a handful of them were elbow deep in pots and bowls of ribboned cabbage well on its way to becoming sauerkraut!
Following a primer on Kombucha taught by Maria, the group had a chance to try their hands at a little fermenting of their own. Each apprentice brought a mix of different vegetables, like carrots, ginger, apples, and beets, to add to the cabbage base.
We began by slicing everything up finely and adding salt. Then, we spent a good while massaging and pounding the vegetables to create juice.
Once there was enough liquid to cover the kraut, we loaded up jars and placed a cabbage leaf on top to help protect the mixtures as they ferment.
We’ll leave our jars to sit for about a month before opening them up and having a tasting party!
By Chris Battaglia
In the fall of 2013, I hadn’t the slightest clue how four nights and five days on the Mississippi River would alter the course of my life.
Those 100 miles on the Lower Mississippi River, between Greenville, and Vicksburg, Miss., led me to new lines of thinking about myself and my work, where I lived, and — somehow — led me on a seven-week expedition from St. Louis to the Gulf of Mexico in a 30-foot wooden, voyageur-style canoe. The following is a clip to try to express some of the feelings and perspective found between the levees:
This odyssey inspired me to create an artist residency and exhibition program that would mirror the virtues inherent in an immersive, outdoor expedition with strangers, and culminate in the creation of a space for the creative works produced or inspired during the expedition. Rather than on the Mighty Mississippi, however, it would take place on our coastal and interior waterways here in Maine. The project is called The Village Canoe, and it is happening at the end of summer/early autumn of this year, 2019.
After nearly six weeks paddling from St. Louis, our crew made it to the Bonnet Carre Spillway in early May, 2017— just 30 miles north of New Orleans. Due to severe weather conditions, we decided to suspend our final push to the Gulf for another time. Upon my return to Maine, I caught wind of a duo making an art/Shanty boat bound for the Mississippi River that year, their journey beginning in Minnesota and ending in New Orleans. I reached out, met Morgan, one half of the pair, and she suggested visiting The Apprenticeshop (where they were building the boat out in the yard). I assured her I would, as I had a canoe project in mind.
Several months passed. Our expedition resumed in November that same year, finishing with a 10-day trip from whence we left-off (just above New Orleans) and quietly arriving to the Gulf of Mexico, just below Southpass, Louisiana. Again, I returned to Maine, this time, with aspirations to bring elements of the journey— self-discovery, renewed agency in environmental stewardship, making meaningful social connection — back home. Someone along the way proposed I look into The Apprenticeshop in Rockland. I rarely shake my head at two independent nods in the same direction. So, on a drive from Belfast to Portland in mid-February, I chose to take the coastal route, stopping in Rockland.
Here I met the cohort of apprentices, in early 2018, who gave me an informal tour of the organization and its multi-level boatbuilding shop. With good fortune, I met Morgan’s other half of Carrier Pigeon Studio, Emily. We spoke quickly but excitedly about the strange connections cropping up between Mississippi and Maine and about various boat projects, buttoning up the conversation with plans to communicate about these things in the future.
One year later, The Village Canoe has developed into an immersive, outdoor, floating artist residency and exhibition. Structured as an expedition, the residence will take place from a 30-foot voyageur canoe, which holds space for up to six participants — chosen through an open-call application — and one or two registered Maine guides to paddle, camp, and make art for 10 days in late summer of 2019. The route will navigate from a tidal river, one which courses through the interior and flows outward, to the Maine coastline, following portions of the Maine Island Trail and accessible islands. At the culmination of the trip, artists will host a temporary, free, public, and interactive pop-up exhibition of the work produced during the residency. The show will take place outdoors in a movable bow-roof structure – the same enclosure in which the canoe will be built
By fostering an interdisciplinary cohort of participants, The Village Canoe aims to become an accessible opportunity for new creative voices, both emerging artists and established career artists, people who don’t normally consider themselves artists, naturalists, citizen scientists, anthropologists, and more.
Author Misao Dean, in her work Inheriting a Canoe Paddle: The Canoe in Discourses of English-Canadian Nationalism, writes, “The task of commissioning or building a canoe can be a great achievement in the health of a small community, signaling the growth of organizational ability, the ability to inspire young people and impose discipline, and the growth of hope and pride.”
The canoe tends to encourage growth of important personal qualities, while paddling in tandem with a boatload of other paddlers, including, but not limited to: teamwork, flexibility, self-and-other-care, accountability, and value of process.
This project aims to build on the rich canoe traditions of Maine — both historical and cultural — by adapting the traditional voyageur design to allow for flexible function, as well as to represent a variety of origins. The goal? To further reinforce this boat as functional art, an invitation to new opportunity, and symbol of community. It’s an art boat — a hybrid; both of these qualities are purposeful.
The residence will culminate in a weekend-long pop-up exhibition, celebrating and showing the work made during and afterward by the artists. The show will take place in a 20’ x 40’ Stimson Bow-Roof shed (traditionally used for greenhouses and boat storage) because it is affordable, easy to construct, transportable, and aesthetically echoes the image of an overturned-canoe — thereby reinforcing the connection between audience and the project conceit.
Hopefully, this (admittedly ambitious) project will become a roving community-arts destination, host to a dynamic and novel art experience equally educational, interactive, and inspirational. The Village Canoe looks to the future as a multi-phase program to make more meaningful art and increase social engagement with the outdoors.
Want to get involved?
Sign-up for the newsletter to receive updates on the residency, exhibition, volunteer opportunities, community events, and more!
Make a donation directly to the project (follow the website link below) orto our 501(c)3 fiscal sponsor, the Belfast Creative Coalition, attn: The Village Canoe.
Follow the journey online at https://villagecanoe.org, and on instagram and Facebook @thevillagecanoe.
Apply to be one of our artists-in-residence! Applications open on February 1 and will close on March 31, at 11:59 pm EST.
Support for The Village Canoe is provided by The Kindling Fund, a grant program administered by SPACE as part of the Andy Warhol Foundation For The Visual Arts Regional Regranting Network.
Many of you have already heard about Break the Anchor, perhaps from attending the fundraising auction the Shop held last March. Well, the project is finally underway. João Bentes, an Apprenticeshop graduate from Portugal (2016-2018) started "Break The Anchor - Partir A Âncora", a Portuguese non profit CRL with the intent to bring traditional boatbuilding back to Portugal.
In collaboration with the Apprenticeshop, he will reconstruct a Portuguese Sardine Carrier from the 19th and 20th century. After building, launching, and conducting sea trials, BTA will cross the Atlantic by way of the Azores, landing on Portuguese shores to establish an apprenticeship-based school of seamanship and boatbuilding. The Sardine Carrier will serve as an itinerant workshop.
João is currently lofting the boat in the basement of Steel House South. Lofting is one of the first steps of traditional boatbuilding. In this phase of construction, the lines on the plan are drawn out at full scale. The completed lofting will allow him make patterns for key components of the boat, such as the stem and sternpost, and will be an important resource as he begins constructing the vessel. João plans to involve current apprentices, as well as the local community. After the lofting is complete, BTA will gather funds to assemble the backbone and start planking later this year.
For those of you who were able to attend Mark Epler’s lecture on the 19th, her are some of the finished works of two artists who participated in the same residency in previous years.
Interested in learning more about the residency? Check out their website here.
By Nina Noah
As the new year approaches, so does Kevin’s 31st year as an instructor at the Apprenticeshop. Most of us on the Shop floor can’t even imagine a pre-Kevin Shop. For 30 years, he has been a steadfast presence, shepherding apprentices quietly, graciously, with that humorous sparkle in his eyes, through their two-year crash course in building boats.
One of the things I appreciate most about Kevin is his ability to stand back and allow his students to make mistakes. Making mistakes has always been hard for me. I can be a bit of a control freak, perfectionist, or whatever else you’d like to call it. But letting go and allowing myself to try something without fear of the end result has never been my forte. That has shifted after my now three and a half years at the Shop. And I owe much of that change to the experience of making and to Kevin’s approach to teaching.
Kevin had a knack for coming by to check on me just as I had committed some ungraceful error, like tearing out the grain after getting a little too chisel happy, or accidentally missing my marks with a handsaw. When he would inevitably catch my eye, I would sheepishly smile, half hidden in my corner behind the stern of the Mackinaw. He would come over, grinning, and jokingly ask “Ok, what did you do now?” This little poke at me had a way of immediately taking the tension out of my shoulders. It made my error seem trivial, something to laugh off, an easily navigated problem, rather than the cataclysm it had seemed to me five minutes before. Moments like these have allowed me to relax into a problem. They’ve given me the confidence to tackle mistakes knowing I’ll come out of the experience just fine. And for that, I am very grateful because this skill doesn’t just apply to boatbuilding. It has allowed me to navigate those moments of losing control in life with more ease, and I’d like to think, more grace.
So many apprentices hold Kevin in great esteem. Former apprentice Ellery Brown had this to say about Kevin:
“As a bright-eyed first year apprentice, I was absolutely in awe of Kevin's boatbuilding prowess from the moment I saw him work. From lofting, to cutting a rabbet, to fitting a dovetail joint, it all seemed effortless and lovely in his hands, like he was born with that folding ruler in one and a block plane in the other. Ten years out of the Apprenticeshop, I've encountered other "naturals" in the boatbuilding world. I've done my best to learn as much from all of them as I can. Along the way I've realized, that yes, Kevin's boatbuilding abilities are remarkable, but his true gift is teaching. I have never met anyone so capable of helping others be their best selves. Kevin has so quietly escorted so many of us to the profound sense of pride and accomplishment that comes in launching a boat of one's own making. I suspect and hope that he feels those same emotions in sending his apprentices into the world to pursue this craft, or more to the point, to pursue our best selves.”
At our recent holiday party, we had an opportunity to pay tribute to Kevin, and, even better, give him a thorough surprise. We secretly donned specially designed tee shirts in his honor.
While he was intently unwrapping his own shirt, which we had wrapped and placed under the tree with the rest of the secret Santa gifts, the whole crowd removed their top layer to reveal the custom Kevin Carney emblem on their tees. When he finally looked up to register the surrounding crowd, he nearly jumped out of his Carhartts. It was rare to see such a composed figure look so surprised!
Thank you Kevin for sharing your head, heart and hands with the Apprenticeshop community over the past 30 years.