Category: Native American

Ravens are frequent characters in the legends of northern peoples around the world. In many cultures they are seen as tricksters, though often ultimately beneficial.

In some myths a Raven swallows the sun as it dips below the horizon, then flies eastward, all night, to the eastern horizon where he barfs it up; ensuring a new day.

In this tale from the Haida and Tlingit peoples of the Pacific Northwest coast of North America, a Raven is the reason the Universe is not eternally dark.

Raven Stealing The Sun

At the beginning of the world there was only darkness. Raven, who had existed from the beginning of time, was tired of groping about and bumping into things in the dark. One day Raven chanced upon the home of an old man who lived with his daughter. Raven, who was very sly, learned that the old man had a great treasure – all the light in the universe, contained in a tiny box concealed within many boxes. Raven vowed to steal the light. But how to get inside the house?

After thinking long and hard Raven devised a plan. He waited until the old man’s daughter came to the river to gather water. Then Raven changed himself into a single hemlock needle and dropped into the river, just as the girl was dipping her water-basket. As she drank from the basket, she swallowed the needle. It slipped and slithered down into her warm belly, where Raven transformed himself again, this time into a tiny human.

After sleeping and growing there for a very long time, Raven emerged into the world once more, this time as a human infant. Despite his strange appearance, Raven’s grandfather loved him. But the old man threatened dire punishment if he ever touched the precious treasure box. Nonetheless the Ravenchild begged and begged to be allowed to hold the light just for a moment.

One day the old man yielded, and lifted from the box a warm and glowing sphere, which he tossed to his grandson. As the light was moving toward him, the human child transformed into a gigantic black shadowy bird-form, wings spread ready for flight, and beak open in anticipation. As the beautiful ball of light reached him, Raven captured it in his beak! Moving his powerful wings, he burst through the smoke hole in the roof of the house, and escaped into the darkness with his stolen treasure.

And that is how light came into the universe.

Two birch bark baskets which I worked up as practice 3D modeling for the canoe project – especially the lacing, which is difficult to model, at least for me. Birch bark baskets come in many forms and styles. Sometimes the reddish inner bark shows on the outside as in the basket on the left; sometimes it is inside. The pattern on the left basket was adopted from an old pattern that I found on the Internet.

3d rendered birch bark baskets

3D Rendering of Birch Bark Baskets

The current state of the birch bark canoe project. The hull is now “made of”birch bark, with the inner bark surface showing. I also added ribs, liner and thwarts (cross pieces). It still needs some tinkering, which I do in my spare time. See this space for future updates.

Click on the image for a full-size view.

Current progress: Roughing out of the hull sections has been completed. That was both much easier and quicker than I had anticipated. I need to do a bit of tweaking where the geometry is rough, primarily on prow and stern, both of which, as opposed to the rest of the hull, were somewhat more difficult shapes to model than expected. I also reworked the gunnels resulting in a much better fit. It would probably be more correct to refer to these as frame stringers. Almost identical parts will sit atop of them; these additional parts will be the gunnels.

Click on the image below for a full-size view.

Anyway; the hardest parts of the project, the basic frame and hull are complete. Everything else will be relatively easy, but time consuming. Joining the hull sections into a unified whole, and then thickening the surface so that “bump”, a 3D texture or roughness, can be assigned to it. While inner birch bark is fairly smooth, there is always natural variation in thickness and bumpiness resulting from the lenticels (slit-like pores).

A second instance of the hull will be necessary for the texture of the inside of the canoe. The last task will be to make the ribs, thwarts (cross pieces), and a few odds and ends.

Here’s a test render in DAZ Bryce to see what the model in its current state looks like in the wild. It floats!

Click on the image for a full-size view.

Next time: more tweaking of the geometry and birch bark and wood textures.

Despite being partial to kayaks I have wanted to build a birch bark canoe for many years. I also would like to build a traditional skin-on-frame kayak as well. Any way for a number of reasons I’ve never gotten around to it. Now however, I have begun building a virtual canoe; with my computer. Once done, it can be used as an element in my art.

There are several styles of canoe; different tribes had their own traditions and construction methods. I have chosen an old Algonquian style as seen in the photo below:

algonquian birch bark canoe

An Traditional Algonquian Birch BArk Canoe

I am following this plan as a guide:

3-view plan of an algonquian canoe

Algonquian Canoe Plan

You can see the three views of the plan, with inverted colors, in the screen shot of the 3d modeler, called Art Of Illusion, below. To be as authentic as possible I am going about this “the hard way”, modeling each part, thwarts, ribs, etc., individually. The colors of the elements are a temporary measure to aid visualization. Wood and bark textures will be added once the model is finished. The red curves are the gunnels, though I think they are not quite wide enough and will probably redo them. Blue, green, and yellow are parts of the hull.

3d birchbark canoe model under construction

3D Canoe Model In Art Of Illusion

I will post updates as the model progresses; and then a textured render of the finished model. After that I want to model a few birch bark items, bowls and baskets; and then that kayak.

Fall Camp

Before the land was covered with shopping malls, golf courses and highways.

Click on image for full-size view.

teepee, native american and horse

Fall Camp