by charles prince

Kestrel Update December 2013

Things are always on the move here and we have some real changes in the works, I say "we" because I am taking on a partner, a man that I hope will eventually take over Kestrel and make a secure future for this business. Let me introduce Charlie Prince and his sweet wife Milla:


Charlie is indeed a prince and has been working with me for most of the year.  He is artistic and a capable and careful craftsman.  He is also gonzo about NWC art, and aboriginal art in general.  He can do the work and is excited about it.  It is a great relief for me to think I have a competent person to carry this on.  We have formed a Partnership as of the first of the year, and plan to work as partners for a couple years.  Then Charlie will take the business away from my space and setting up his own shop.  There are issues, not the least of which is that this young couple have very limited means.  They will be launching a crowdfunding campaign in the next month or so to help them get enough beans to buy into their share of the inventory and raw materials.  I will let you know when that comes up and if you can spare a few dollars for them it will greatly help get them on the road.

Here is an example of Charlie's work.  Very clean and crisp!

Charlie with kayak he made with Brian Shulz at Cape Falcon Kayak.  Cedar and oak, steam bent, lashed and sewn.  

Charlie with kayak he made with Brian Shulz at Cape Falcon Kayak.  Cedar and oak, steam bent, lashed and sewn.  

His wife Milla is a delight, she is from Finland, a bright and competent young woman, a writer and videographer.  The changes in their life style have the two of them teaming up to make this work.  You'll hear more later.

Meanwhile we are not letting the grass grow under our feet here.  We just got a infrared thermometer to help check on heat treating processes and we replaced our hardness tester with a new and more reliable unit.  We are trying to find the time to work up a series of U-Tube videos on Northwest Coast topics.  Examples are sharpening, box bending, putting the hair on a mask and others.  There are so many interesting and fun facets of this art that are taught in classes but not much written about.  Folks who don't live close enough to the coast to catch a class often struggle with things that are simple and fun unless they are shown how.  We are also working to more properly logo the work.  We are proud of what we do and adding our "signature" seems right.  We also moved Malcolm's great old Delta lathe back into the shop, that will really help with making new tooling we need here.

Here's Irene with another batch of Salmon Candy.

I am still adding a texture to the gripping area of the finished adzes I have been sending out. It's a "no extra charge" bonus. I also have been rough-shaping one side of the adze haft blanks. It serves as a model for making your haft into a very sweet tool. Also I have new adze literature: twelve well illustrated pages will help guide you through making and safely using your adze. D-adze information is included too. This info comes with adze, adze iron, or adze kit. The new adze sheets also are available as a PDF so you can download and print them from home – and you can do that even if you don't buy a thing. My new crooked knife booklet is also 12 pages. It has care, use, and sharpening instructions and is well illustrated with photos and drawings. This publication is also available as a PDF. I would appreciate your telling me if you already have the literature so I don't send you copies with your next 5 orders (we've probably killed enough trees already). New booklets also include a new publication on finishing your work, revised working with wet wood, and info on curing your carving. Also available is an Abbreviated History of The Northwest Coast. All of this information and more comes with the info packet. The info packet and DVD is on special at $24, such a deal!  Refer to the literature page.

The other morning when I went out to the shop to fill orders I found myself whistling as I set out to work.  It caused me to reflect on what was making me happy and I realized I really like what I do.  I love to make things.  It satisfies me to see these creations emerge from my hands and it's a little like magic.  At my age I am making the best tools ever.  I am not much interested in sacrificing quality, I never was good at that.  I keep revising my methods, adding new machines and processes and adding value to the work.  Now I am teaching everything I know about this art to Charlie.  These tools are pricey but because of that and my regard for struggling artists I have always offered the components.  If you can afford it buy one tool made up to use as an example and blades for the others.  I sell a lot of blades with good literature to help you save bucks and still have the best.

I hope you are leading a good life as well.  I wish you health and fun, a life with love, family, adventure, and art.