Recent works – December deliveries

A small number of blades were completed in the run up to Christmas. One was to be a Christmas gift, one a wedding gift, and one a going away gift.


Green on green

Ensuring that there is always good coverage with a coat of a pale colour is always difficult. I do try to get the blade base colour right in one coat if I can manage it.

Cambridge green blue is one of the more difficult colours I’ve been working with. A white undercoat can be too light. A grey undercoat can be too dark. Careful brushstrokes are needed to ensure even colour and that the undercoat doesn’t show through.

To help solve this, I asked my specialist paint supplier if they could make up a pale green undercoat for me. The primer/filler range was a little limited for tints, but they were certain that the green undercoat they mixed up for me would be perfect.


I admit that I was a little worried when these bright turquoise blades appeared.

However, now that I’ve applied the top coat of Cambridge blue I am very satisfied. It was very easy to see any areas I’d missed, but there is no show through of the underlying colour that was sometimes apparent with the white or grey undercoats.


It’s not cheap, but I think I’ll be doing more custom tints for undercoats in the future.

The colour purple

Sometimes you know that you’ll probably only ever paint one oar in a particular colour, despite now owning an expensive tin of the stuff.

I present one such example:

Wesley College in Melbourne, Australia is a very distinct colour. Unless there is a university college somewhere in the UK that needs purple I suspect that this paint tin might not get opened again for a long time!

Brothers and duplicates

Brothers can be fiercely competitive at the best of times, but when both are talented oarsmen things can often get too hot to handle.

“We’re not competitive at all”, he said with a grin as I delivered an oar this afternoon.

For many years both brothers have coveted their father’s Boat Race blade. Each has also had a good rowing career with many wins, Henley appearances, and notable roles such as club Captain or committee member, but from childhood there was always something special about the oar that had pride of place in the family home.

To solve this sibling rivalry, the younger brother came up with a bold plan – making a duplicate so that everyone could have the cherished family memory on the wall.

Oar full cropped

Armed with a handful of photos, I set out to recreate this blade.

First stop was a boatman in Oxford with a handy stash of old oars. He was able to provide an oar of a suitable vintage. A copper tipped, girder shaft Aylings was purchased and prepared.

Then on to the painting via a few stops. The custom mix of paint to create a convincing blackish-navy blue (as mentioned in previous posts), followed by a lot of care to try to layout the construction lines as close as possible to the original using only photos.

The painting had a few challenges and surprises. The five legged lion was amusing, while trying to copy another painter’s handwriting style was less fun. The steep ridge up the centre of these old oars is always a challenge to work around.



Bottom right: a para-rowing lion?

However, in the end it all came together to produce a finished oar that was as close to the original as I could make it (or at least without going barmy!). Yes, I did paint the extra leg.

We have a happy customer and two happy brothers.



4- trophy…of sorts

This is a trophy with four blades, but not quite something to suit a coxless four.

The male and female rower of the year awards for Twickenham Rowing Club – both open and masters. This will be hung high on the wall (it’s a bit big!) and brought down each year for the annual dinner and awards night.

I’ve promised the Captain that I will bring a tin of paint and a brush to the dinner so that the 2017 winners can go on right away! There should be room on these blades for the next 30 years worth of winners.

twickenham 4 blade


Double Blues

It isn’t easy to earn the right to race in the top crew at either Oxford or Cambridge, and lightweight rowing is especially difficult. Who likes rice cakes anyway?

Making the crew, then winning, is special. Doing it twice is remarkable. Having one win at each university is exceptional!

University Challenge

With the single scull renovation out of the way I am now playing catch up with the list of oars to paint. These blades had already been prepared (repairs, undercoat etc) but not yet given their final base coat colours.

At the moment we have a bit of a custom colour university challenge going on. All three blades pictured (and one out of shot) have especially mixed paints.

Oxford (at back) was hand mixed, while both Cambridge and Durham were matched at the paint shop using PMS colours.


Odd deliveries

I have managed to score a small stash of timber oars for my stocks. It is a bit of a mix with some Aylings and Suttons, and conditions that range from only needing a minor sand right to some serious timber repairs. Overall quite happy with the potential here, even if there is a fair bit of work to do.

oars on car.jpeg

Yes, I do get some funny looks when I am driving.