The Black Canoe Soundtrack: Song One

One of the biggest challenges in creating the video for The Black Canoe was the recording of the music.

The first and last song you hear in the video is called Fireweeds In August. Originally recorded under a different name, I changed the name and made it the unofficial Eagle Down Studios theme song.

I chose the title because of the calm, serene feeling that the music brought to my mind. It made me think of fireweeds, which grow around Kitimat and look similar to foxgloves. They have long green stocks and pink or purple flowers that, after blooming, sprout fluffy white seeds like dandelions do. This usually occurs around the end of summer, in August. They are known in the Kitlope as the “snowflakes of ghosts.”

Fireweeds have significance in other cultures as well. The Gitxsan, one of our closest neighbors, have a Fireweed clan.

To record this song, I used an electric Telecaster copy that I built myself and played it through an acoustic preamp. I ran it directly into a digital 8-track recorder without effects and I did fingerpicking throughout the entire song.

Art For Me

It’s rare that I get to keep any of my own artwork, I recently finished a piece that I started in late 2009.

There was an argillite carving class in Kitamaat Village and I decided to take it. I wasn’t sure how I’d do because, even though I’ve done a little bit of carving in my lifetime, I’ve never considered myself a carver.

I wanted to make an arrow head necklace so I created a design and started shaping it out of a small piece of argillite. We used diamond-coated rotary tool bits which caused a lot of vibration and made my arm and hand go numb after a while. Eventually I got it to the point where I could transfer the design to the argillite but I wasn’t sure how to go about carving the details as I’m not a carver. I had carved small pieces in wood before but that’s easier to cut than stone.

The class ended in early 2010 and my arrow head wasn’t quite finished so I left it for a while, thinking I’d get back to it soon. Years went by and I still hadn’t done anything with it. I showed it as an example of my artwork a couple of times during some classes I was teaching but it was still unfinished.

I finally decided to finish it this weekend. I got some suede cord, clasps and other things from Walmart. I didn’t know how long I was going to make the cord, I stood in front of a mirror and said, “yeah, that looks about right” and cut it. I didn’t know how to attach the cord to the clasp and didn’t do any research to try and find out. What I ended up doing was tying a knot at each end of the cord and stuffing it into the clasp. It’s not totally secure, a good tug will pull it out but I can stuff it back in. I decided that was good enough.

The real problem came when trying to drill a hole in the top of the arrow head. I used a diamond-coated rotary tool bit which I thought was completely straight. As I drilled, it got to a point where it wouldn’t quite go through so I put some pressure on it and the arrow head broke. Luckily, it was just the top that broke into two pieces, I figured I could fix it. What happened was the rotary bit was actually tapered so it got wider towards the bottom and that’s what made the argillite break. I used some super glue and pieced everything back together. I re-drilled the hole with a proper drill bit and everything held together.

I used a lot of super glue, spreading it over the crack lines to make sure it sealed. I did some grinding and sanding and got rid of the excess glue. I did a little more shaping to the design with various hand tools, signed my name on the back and attached the ring. Some parts were still showing as a lighter grey, which darkened when I had touched the arrow head. I just rubbed the whole thing with my fingers and that made it all dark and gave it a polished look. It’s not a masterpiece but I think it’s pretty good for my first try.

Will I make more? Will I become an argillite carver? I don’t know. I have ideas for more necklaces and I actually do have some small argillite pieces I could use. I think I would need to experiment more and maybe get some pointers from an experienced argillite carver.

For now I have a finished necklace and I’m keeping it for myself. An artist being able to keep his own artwork, what a novel idea! With all the art that I do for sale, it’s nice to make something just for myself.

I plan on wearing it a lot and maybe showing it to people who are interested in my artwork.

Below are pictures of the project: