No, my eyesight is still fine but creating detailed copies of existing designs is still quite tough on the eyes! The Christmas and New Year period has been very busy with lots of duplicates and replicas.

Clients are often far away and unable to provide the original for me to work from, so they assist me by taking numerous photos of the blade they wish me to copy. Detail and full images, as well as extras taken with a tape measure or ruler in the frame. From these I hope to replicate the colours and also the exact proportions of the design.

It is not always easy and there are common problems with the curved nature of some blade shapes as well as with the photos themselves (colour consistency, parallax distortions). However, when armed with a range of images I have managed to piece together some very successful copies over the years.

Some jobs are even more complex than just copying the artwork. The blade type itself can be just as difficult to replicate. Modern oars are fairly plentiful and very uniform (made in moulds), but the vintage timber oars are more rare are vary greatly. Two of my recent jobs required older style oars to be found and renovated.

Here is a list of what I have recently done:

Completed in time to be a Christmas surprise was a matched pair of trophy blades for some twins. Not only did they face the common issue that twins face – namely having to share awards because people are unable or unwilling to distinguish between them – they also had won an annual club award that needed to be returned at the end of the year so that it could have a new name added and be handed on to the next year’s recipient. Now there are three near exact copies!

On New Year’s Day I delivered an oar to someone who had seen a blade that I painted for his crew mate and decided that he’d like one too.

Then shortly after the year started I delivered a very special duplicate blade to some brothers who had been sharing back and forth their treasured souvenir since 1976. It is a wonderful story that is artfully retold by Tim Koch on the Hear The Boat Sing blog.

(Note one ‘correction’ to the original – the two small ‘c’s in the names)

I only had a moment to rest before it was time to complete the next job that was due a week later. With seven blades to deliver I was seeing more than double! Luckily I’d started the preparations in December and there was only text to paint and no complex club badges or a coat of arms.

Last, but not least – this week I’m working to complete a duplicate of a 1940 Boat Race oar.