New Research at CWB Could Save Museums Tens of Thousands of Dollars As they Preserve Large Objects….Such as a Boat
Federal Grant to CWB Developing New Photogrammetry techniques
that will be shared with all Museums
(Seattle,WA) With funding from a competitively won federal grant, The Center for Wooden Boats in Seattle has launched a research project that could dramatically reduce the cost of tracking the shapes of large objects in a museum collection as they change over time. Knowing when an artifact is changing shape is critical for a museum so it can step in and take steps to stop the damage. That is especially true with large objects because often by the time a change in shape is perceptible to the human eye irreparable damage has already been done.
For CWB the large objects to be preserved are among the 150 the historic sailboats, row boats, steam and electric launches in its collection that document the classic small craft designs of the northwest. But there are 17,500 museums and 123,000 libraries in the U.S. that will have access to the new techniques developed by CWB that they can use to help document and preserve objects in their collections.
With the grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services, CWB’s Fleet Manager Kyle Hunter has been working with a group of experts in vessel documentation to use digital photography and computer aided design software to develop more cost effective ways to document a boats shape. “Today techniques to capture a boat’s shape often require laser scanners that can cost a museum $100,000 or more,” said Hunter. “Using common photography and relatively simple software the cost of creating a digital model of a boat can be brought down to just a few hundred dollars if you have a decent camera and a quick computer.” The models that Hunter has created from the CWB collection are of a high enough level of accuracy that it could be submitted to the Library of Congress’s engineering database. Using laser based techniques could have cost many thousands of dollars to create the same model.
The research is still under way, but clearly the early results have been positive.
Hunter and the experts he’s brought together in Seattle have been able to use a digital camera to make detailed photo sets of boats shot from many angles. Computer software can take those photos and detect the lines and edges and quickly convert the photos into accurate 3D wire frame models on a computer. Once that computer model is documented, another photo scan of the boat can be done at any time and the two models compared. The computer can instantly show the curator how and where the boat shape has changed. That’s critical to know so a curator can decide if it’s time to jump in with additional steps to stop the change in the boat’s shape.
CWB’s small boat collection offers an ideal test of the technology as the museum has had a longtime program to document the shape of its historic boats, and that earlier data can be used now to test these new techniques. Working with partner maritime heritage organizations such as Northwest Seaport, and the historic records division of the National Park Service, CWB tests can be run comparing these new results to existing methods of gathering similar data.
The impact of this research could be significant, according to David Cockey, President of the Museum Small Craft Association. Cockey traveled to CWB in Seattle earlier this year to participate in a training session on the new technology. “Many museums with small boats have to deal with boats in storage and that fact that and there are some boats you can’t take into the collection”, said Cockey. “This new technology helps those museums capture the information in those boats and preserve it for the future.”
One appealing aspect of this new technique that has researchers excited is that, because it begins with taking digital photographs, it is easy to start quickly. Historians only need to learn the techniques of how to take the photo sets needed using a mid-priced digital camera. (CWB used a Canon G-1, which costs about $600). The data does not need to be processed immediately. As long has you have the archive of photographs it’s possible to do the processing at any time. And it is possible to use photographs taken many years ago to document boats that may no longer exist. The team from Northwest Seaport that is helping CWB in the research had taken detailed photographs in the past of the cabin on the historic schooner Wawona, which was dismantled in 2009. Using the new techniques developed through the CWB research the team has been able to use those old photos to create a detailed computer model of the Wawona cabin even though the boat is long gone.
That ability to jumpstart preservation of boats, before it’s too late, is what prompted Eric Hervol a former museum shipwright now with Western Washington University to come to the CWB training session earlier this year. “With these techniques, even if we can’t save all of these vessels we can capture what they are now….and capture the history before it literally rots away outside somewhere,” said Hervol.
But boats won’t be the only objects tested. To ensure the new techniques are usable across different museums with different kinds of collections, CWB is required to run test on something that doesn’t float. Hunter has chosen to use the technique to document the design and shape of the Tlingit Honor Pole at CWB. The pole was carved by high school students in the Alaskan village of Klawock and installed at CWB in 2005 as a way of saying thank for a 40-foot cedar canoe that was carved at CWB and gifted to the village.
The scan of the Honor Pole at CWB was a success, and shows the technique can be used to produce accurate models of similar objects at a much lower cost, again in comparison to laser scanning. The success of that test has already caught the interest of experts working to preserve native monumental carving. Hunter will present preliminary findings of the research this July at the Tribal Conference on the Preservation and Conservation of Totem and Honor Poles. They are not the only group interested. Hunter has already presented on the technique being developed at CWB to the Northwest Archeology Conference annual meeting and the Council of American Maritime Museums national conference in April. He will also present in June to the Washington Museum Association’s annual meeting and the Society for Historical Archeology has invited Hunter to present at its next international conference in January of 2015.
The new techniques for photogrammetry being developed by CWB are designed to help in preservation, but Hunter is already thinking about other ways to use this technology. CWB has a fleet of 8 Blanchard Junior Knockabout sailboats built by the Blanchard Boat Company from 1933 to the mid-1950s. “Because these new techniques are so inexpensive and easy to do we would be able to scan the entire fleet, and compare boats build in 1930 with those built the 1950s and document how the boatwrights at Blanchard tweaked the design of the boat over the decades in response to customer demands and changes in technology”, said Hunter.
CWB expects to wrap up this research project in by the end of the year with a final report to IMLS detailing the merits of this new camera based photogrammetry, its strengths and weaknesses, how it compares to the more expensive alternatives, and how to make it accessible to organizations.. It’s then the research will be ready to be shared even more broadly with other museums in the US and around the world.
CWB is Proud to Partner with other Puget Sound Museums for Inaugural “Museum Week Northwest” Opening Friday
If you’re in town over the next week, you need to check out Museum Week Northwest, #MWNW14. The Center for Wooden Boats and more than 50 other local museums are working together to help you find out about all the wonderful places you can visit in our area. And we’re al trying to make it super easy and affordable to check out new museums you haven’t been to. Details are below in a news release.
DISCOVERS THE AMAZING MUSEUMS ALL AROUND YOU AT MUSEUM WEEK NORTHWEST, MAY 16TH THROUGH 23RD
Museum Week Northwest Celebration includes two-for-one admissions at many museums
Tuesday May 13, 2014 Seattle, WA – A new poll of the Puget Sound area museums that have come together to create “Museum Week Northwest”, opening Friday and running May 16-23, shows combined these 56 museums have almost seven million annual visitors, and together they pour almost $207 million dollars into the local economy every year with spending on exhibits, staffing, facilities, and other costs.
The poll also found that the almost ten thousand volunteers and employees of these institutions combine to host 1.34 million school children every year for visits and educational field trips.
“These new poll numbers make it very clear just how important the museums in the Puget Sound region are to our community as educational beacons, but also as economic drivers for tourism,” said Doug King, President and CEO of the Museum of Flight in Seattle and chair of the local host committee for the American Alliance of Museums Annual Meeting that also opens this weekend in Seattle. “AAM members are coming here in part to see the innovation and creativity taking place in our museums, and we think they’ll be impressed with what they find.”
“There’s no doubt that Seattle is a leader in innovation based on our active and vibrant museum community. I’m pleased that the significant economic impact of these learning organizations is being presented in a collaborative way that showcases the abundance that we have here in the Pacific Northwest,” said Seattle Mayor Ed Murray.
In conjunction with the AAM Conference, local museums large and small have created “Museum Week Northwest”, what they hope will become an annual event to highlight the diversity, excellence, and innovation in local museums.
During Museum Week Northwest, 56 of Western Washington’s museums have special 2-for-1 admission or other special programs for guests.
Notable museums participating include the Seattle, Bellevue and Tacoma Art Museums, Pacific Science Center, The Center for Wooden Boats & Northwest Seaport, The Museum of Glass, The Museum of Flight, Experience Music Project, The LeMay Car Museum, the Northwest African American Museum, Edmonds Historical Museum, and many, many more. Producing partner Visit Seattle has created a special Museum Week Northwest website at www.museumweeknw.com where the full list of events, offer and discounts can be found.
With so many special offers, museum lectures, and presentations to keep track of organizers are also collaborating with a Seattle software company that has a free smartphone application designed to make it easier for you to find out what’s going on at all the different museums. The STQRY (Pronounced “story”) app is free and available on iPhones, Android, and Windows phones, and even translates information into the language of the phone (more than 60 languages), helping make museums even more accessible. You can also access the information in the mobile phone application on the web at www.stqry.com/mwnw.
COMPLETE LIST OF MUSEUMS WITH SPECIAL OFFERS:
The following organizations are participating in Museum Week Northwest, May 16-23, 2014, with Buy-One-Get-One Free admission offers, or special public programs. Complete information, including terms and conditions, can be found at www.museumweeknw.com.
|Bainbridge Island Historical Museum|
|Bainbridge Island Museum of Art|
|Bellevue Arts MuseumBill & Melinda Gates Foundation Visitor Center|
|Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture|
|The Center for Wooden Boats|
|Children’s Museum of Tacoma|
|Daybreak Star Indian Cultural CenterDuwamish Longhouse|
|Edmonds Historical Museum|
|Flying Heritage CollectionFoss Waterway Seaport Frye Art Museum|
|Future of Flight Aviation Center & Boeing Tour|
|Hands On Children’s Museum|
|Harbor History Museum|
|Henry Art Gallery|
|The Hydroplane and Raceboat Museum|
|Jack Straw Cultural Center | Jack Straw New Media Gallery|
|Job Carr Cabin Museum|
|Kids Discovery Museum|
|Kitsap County Historical Society & Museum|
|Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park|
|LeMay – America’s Car Museum|
|Living Computer Museum|
|Museum of History & Industry (MOHAI)|
|Museum of Communications|
|The Museum of Flight|
|Museum of Glass|
|Naval Undersea Museum|
|Nordic Heritage Museum|
|Northwest African American Museum|
|Northwest Railway Museum|
|Olympic Sculpture Park|
|Pacific Science Center|
|The Pioneer Association of The State of Washington|
|Puget Sound Navy Museum|
|Queen Anne Historical Society|
|Renton History Museum|
|Seattle Art Museum|
|Seattle Asian Art MuseumSeattle Office of Arts & Culture|
|Shoreline Historical Museum|
|Spark Museum of Electrical Invention|
|Steamer Virginia V Foundation|
|Tacoma Art MuseumUniversity of Washington Museology Graduate Program|
|USS Turner Joy Museum ShipWhatcom Museum
White River Valley Historical Museum & Mary Olson Farm
|Washington State History Museum|
This is the first time in 20 years that the American Alliance of Museums has been in Seattle for its annual meeting. The AAM Annual meeting May 18-21 is the largest gathering of museum professionals in the world, bringing together 5,000 museum professionals from all 50 states and more than 50 countries. It will run concurrently with Museum Week Northwest at the Washington State Convention and Visitors Center.
About Museum Week Northwest:
Museums around Puget Sound have come together to create Museum Week Northwest May 16th to the 23rd, 2014. For eight days participating museums will celebrate the diversity, quality, and innovations of local collections with special admission offers and a range of events and presentations. Museum Week Northwest coincides with the annual conference of the American Alliance of Museums in Seattle. Attended by more than 5,000 attendees from 50+ countries, AAM’s annual meeting gathers museum professionals to learn about the latest innovations in museum design, operations, outreach, programs and collection management.
CWB’s longtime Deputy Director Eldon Tam has learned a lot about what it takes to build a new building as he has worked with The Center for Wooden Boats Board, the architects, designers, city permit departments and construction teams who are putting the final plans in place to build CWB’s new Wagner Education Center. He learned so much about construction management that he has been hired away from us; nabbed by The Burke Museum to lead the process to build them a new facility at the University of Washington.
Of course, we are disappointed to lose Eldon, but we couldn’t be happier for him personally. It is is a tremendous opportunity for him, and we understand he could not say no. We also know that CWB is still in Eldon’s bones, and he’ll be staying on as an advisor/volunteer to make sure the Ed Center is done right. His son Oliver still needs sailing lessons. And yes, Eldon will still make Baked Alaska for dessert at the CWB auction next spring.
Eldon’s departure does leave big shoes to fill at CWB. It comes at a time when growth in programs and infrastructure present new challenges for management. The board has been evaluating the long-term leadership structure and talent needed to meet these challenges. The board has decided to take a deliberate approach before moving forward with a replacement. For this reason, one of the board members has agreed to vacate her position and become Interim Chief Operating Officer. Suzanne Zonneveld has a history in business management, both in non-profit, education and commercial organizations. She has been helping Executive Director Betsy Davis with grant writing, and has served as CWB’s Board Treasurer, Chair of the Governance and Finance Committees, and has been a member of the Strategic Planning Committee. Suzanne will step into this role on May 6, ensuring CWB operations keep running without a hitch.
That should give us all a smooth summer of sailing. It’ll give the board time to make thoughtful decisions and conduct a thorough search for new leadership talent.
What have you done for your mom this year? What if you could give her the gift of your time, AND be on the water at the same time? Your friends at The Center for Wooden Boats invite you, and your mom, to join us at the 13th Annual Mother’s Day Saturday Sail Saturday May 10th at The Center for Wooden Boats at Cama Beach State Park.
Once again the team from CWB will show you, your mom and anyone else you bring along, why Saratoga Passage is considered one of the most beautiful places on the water in the Evergreen State. On that day, you, your mom and the rest of the family will have fun viewing classic wooden boats, building toy boats and taking a free boat ride together.
Join The Center for Wooden Boats, Washington State Parks and The Cama Beach Foundation for our 13th Annual Mothers’ Day Weekend (Saturday) Sail.
What: Mother’s Day Saturday Sail
Where: The Center for Wooden Boats at Cama Beach State Park
When: Saturday, May 10, 2014
Time: 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Cost: FREE (State Parks Daily or Annual Discover pass needed for parking)
Visitors to CWB’s Cama Beach location on May 10th will be able to try one of CWB’s Umiaqs. That’s the type of boat that has been produced by people living in Arctic latitudes for centuries and used to move large cargo or entire families. Umiaqs were traditionally built ‘skin on frame,’ literally sealskin covering a wood framework tied together with strips of hide or other line. CWB’s Umiaqs, were built by craftsmen, volunteers, and Sea Scouts, and are covered with Dacron rather than sealskin.
Another boat participating this year is the Joshua. This is a replica of Joshua Slocum’s famous boat Spray. The famed Nova Scotia born captain inspired generations of sailors when he became the first person to solo circumnavigate the globe and wrote the book “Sailing Alone Around the World” about his adventures in 1900.
As always, youth and families can build adventuresome, tiny boats together using hand tools and wooden hulls. Other onshore programs will be offered by Washington State Parks.
Special thanks to the event sponsors, including Cama Beach State Park, The Cama Beach Foundation and The Stanwood Camano News. And also thanks to the friendly volunteers and staff who make this fun event happen every year.
Northwest Museums, Including CWB, Showcase Innovations
We’ve mentioned before that The Center for Wooden Boats is working with dozens of other Puget Sound Museums to create a new event called Museum Week Northwest in May. The website to help everyone find all the museums involved, all the programs, all the special Buy On Get One Free offers is now live at www.museumweeknw.com
There’s also a Free Smartphone app available to guide you to all the great museums and great deals. The app is called STQRY, by a Seattle tech startup of the same name. You’ll find a link to them on the Museum Week NW website, or at www.stqry.com You can download the app on your smartphone free on your Android, iPhone or Windows Phone. It’s a great app, and one we’re already experimenting with at CWB in our new exhibit; “HIGHLINERS: Boats of the Century.”
Here’s the News Release from the organizers with all the details.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, April 24, 2014
New Website and Free Mobile Phone App Will Help You Find All the Special Two-for-One Offers at “Museum Week Northwest”
Museum Week Northwest, May 16-23, highlighting museum innovation in Washington State.
Seattle, WA – Organizers of Museum Week Northwest, the upcoming celebration of innovation, excellence and diversity in Washington state museums, today launched a new website so the public can find dozens of special two-for-one offers and plan visits to many of their favorite museums. The website, www.museumweeknw.com , and a free mobile application called STQRY (download for free at www.stqry.com/MWNW ), are part of the welcome by local museums for the American Alliance of Museums which is bringing the world’s largest annual gathering of museum professionals to Seattle in May.
From May 16-23, while the AAM conference is going on at the Washington State Convention Center, a total of 56 museums and cultural organizations from Seattle and Tacoma, from Bellingham to Olympia, and from Bremerton to Snoqualmie will be offering visitors special discounts and programs.
“This new website is a clearinghouse where you can find all the museums participating, and find out about their admission deals, and other special offers,” said Tom Norwalk, President and CEO of Visit Seattle. “Northwest museums are often involved in cutting edge work, and this is a great chance for the public to get out and explore the excellence to be found in our many museums.”
FREE SMARTPHONE APP
Making it easier for the public to find all the museums in their midst is also why organizers have teamed up with Seattle software startup STQRY.com to use the company’s free smartphone application as a handheld guide to Museum Week Northwest.
Many of the organizations participating in Museum Week Northwest will use the STQRY (pronounced: ”story”) application to help visitors find out where and when events and offers are happening. The STQRY app is free and available on iPhones, Android, and Windows phones, and translates information into the language of the phone (more than 60 languages), helping make museums even more accessible.
“The STQRY mobile app is unique in that it allows you to search for and discover any one of our exceptional and diverse museums, and then you may continue to use the app once on-site to engage more personally with the individual exhibits and treasures,” said Chris Smith, founder and CEO of STQRY. “I’m so honored and excited to see STQRY being adopted by our incredible art and cultural community across the Puget Sound.”
This is the first time in 20 years that the American Alliance of Museums has been in Seattle for its Annual Meeting. The AAM Annual meeting May 18-21 brings together 5,000 museum professionals from all 50 states and more than 50 countries.
MUSEUMS WITH SPECIAL OFFERS:
The following organizations are participating in Museum Week Northwest, May 16-23, 2014, with Buy-One-Get-One Free admission offers, or special public programs. Complete information, including terms and conditions, can be found at www.museumweeknw.com.
Bainbridge Island Historical Museum
Bainbridge Island Museum of Art
Bellevue Arts Museum
Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Visitor Center
Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture
The Center for Wooden Boats
Children’s Museum of Tacoma
Daybreak Star Indian Cultural Center
Edmonds Historical Museum
Flying Heritage Collection
Foss Waterway Seaport
Frye Art Museum
Future of Flight Aviation Center & Boeing Tour
Hands On Children’s Museum
Harbor History Museum
Henry Art Gallery
The Hydroplane and Raceboat Museum
Jack Straw Cultural Center | Jack Straw New Media Gallery
Job Carr Cabin Museum
Kids Discovery Museum
Kitsap County Historical Society & Museum
Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park
LeMay – America’s Car Museum
Living Computer Museum
Museum of History & Industry (MOHAI)
Museum of Communications
The Museum of Flight
Museum of Glass
Naval Undersea Museum
Nordic Heritage Museum
Northwest African American Museum
Northwest Railway Museum
Olympic Sculpture Park
Pacific Science Center
The Pioneer Association of The State of Washington
Puget Sound Navy Museum
Queen Anne Historical Society
Renton History Museum
Seattle Art Museum
Seattle Asian Art Museum
Shoreline Historical Museum
Spark Museum of Electrical Invention
Steamer Virginia V Foundation
Tacoma Art Museum
University of Washington Museology Graduate Program
USS Turner Joy Museum Ship
Washington State History Museum
White River Valley Museum & Mary Olson Farm
Wing Luke Museum of the Asian Pacific American Experience
About Museum Week Northwest:
Museums around Puget Sound have come together to create Museum Week Northwest May 16th to the 23rd, 2014. For eight days participating museums will celebrate the diversity, quality, and innovations of local collections with special admission offers and a range of events and presentations. Museum Week Northwest coincides with the annual conference in Seattle of the American Alliance of Museums. Attended by more than 5,000 attendees from 50+ countries, AAM’s annual meeting gathers museum professionals to learn about the latest innovations in museum design, operations, outreach, programs and collection management.
Monday, April 14th was sunny in Seattle with a gentle breeze out of the South. In other words, perfect weather for The Center for Wooden Boats Fleet & Collection Manager Kyle Hunter to take off for the Eastside of Lake Washington and sail back to CWB on Lake Union with the newest member of the fleet, a Blanchard Junior Knockabout that is being donated to the museum.
“Sailing the Biglow family’s Blanchard Jr “Footloose” to CWB”
This boat, christened “Footloose” is being donated by Nancy and Lucius Biglow. They have owned the boat since shortly after the moved to Seattle in the 1950’s. Since they bought the 20-foot sailboat they’ve cared for her, taught their kids and extended families to love the water, to love to sail, and to love the skill that went into the building of a Seattle designed classic. For all those years they’ve kept the boat at their Medina home, enjoying day sailing, dinner picnic cruises with friends, and even the occasional extended trip. They always sent Footloose across the lake to Jensen’s Boatshop near the University of Washington for loving care and maintenance.
But as they’ve gotten older, the Biglows decided that the boat should belong not just to them, but to the city where it was built. After touring CWB’s Northlake Workshop and seeing how carefully CWB cares for the Blanchard boats already in it’s collection, the family make the call to donate the boat to CWB. Nancy and Lucius know that their kids will still be able to sail their boat, and by having her on the docks at CWB many more people will get to enjoy the boat as they have for so many decades.
Prior to receiving Footloose CWB had a collection of 7 Blanchard Juniors. The museum keeps one boats, the historical archive Blanchard Junior, permanently pulled out of the water and kept safe in storage. It serves as the “Artifact” reference boat that is preserved to show how just how these boats they were built and how they arrived from the Blanchard shop on Lake Union
The rest of the Blanchard Juniors are the backbone of the CWB sailboat rental fleet. The historic boats are restored and maintained so that people can still learn to sail, and rent, this historic example of a NW designed and built boat. Last year 5,500 got out on boats in the CWB rental fleet.
“With that many people using our historic wooden boats, some are always in the shop being refreshed….so keeping enough boats in the water is always a concern,” said CWB’s Hunter. “Adding the Biglow’s boat to the fleet will help insure that when people come down to the docks to learn to sail, or just to rent, that a boat will be here for them.”
This new Blanchard, along with the rest of the Knockabouts in CWB’s fleet, was built at the Blanchard Boat Company which for many decades operated on the Northeast shore of Lake Union just below the Eastlake neighborhood.
The Blanchard Boat Company founder, N.J. Blanchard, had been commercially building yachts for the wealthy since 1900. During the depression Blanchard realized that to keep his shop busy and crews working he needed to come up with smaller boats that the middle class could afford.
In 1932 N.J. designed a classic little 26’ cruising sloop with a small cabin and and a 20’ open sloop that was scaled down from the 26’ boat. The 26’ cabin cruiser was called the Blanchard Senior Knockabout (BJK) and the 20’ version was the Blanchard Junior Knockabout (BJK).
About the Blanchard Jr. Knockabout
Designed By N.J. BLanchard & Ben Seaborn
Built by: Blanchard Boat Co.
Length Overall x Beam x Draft: 19’8″ x 6’2″ x 3′
Hull Type: Daysailer, Round bottom, raked transom, open cockpit, fin keel.
Rig Type: Fractional sloop
Construction Details:The hull of a Blanchard Junior Knockabout (BJK) is carvel planked western red cedar over steam bent white oak frames. The cast iron keel is approximately 500 lbs. The cost with the sails in the 1940’s was $1195.
When you look at the picture of the Blanchard Boat Company back in its heyday, and then look at the design Seattle’s Olson Kundig Architects have developed for the new Wagner Education Center to be built at CWB you can see the hint of Seattle’s past. Lead Architect Tom Kundig has said the elements of the Blanchard building, along with other places where boats were built in the Northwest, were always in the back of their minds as they were designing the new building that CWB will build in Lake Union Park. Construction of the new building at CWB is expected to begin later this year.
You can find out more about the Blanchard Junior Knockabout and many of the other boats in the collection on the CWB website at http://cwb.org/exhibits
And even with the addition of this beautiful boat to the CWB collection, the museum remains on the lookout for additional Blanchard Jr Knockabouts to add to the collection.
The Center for Wooden Boats draws boaters….as you would expect. But there’s something about the museum’s collection of historic boats lined up on the docks in the fading golden summer light or sailing in close formation during a lesson on Lake Union that has always drawn another crowd. The crowd that comes with easels, with oils and acrylics, pads of paper and charcoal. CWB is a magnet for artists.
“Artists have been coming down to CWB as long as it’s been in existence,” said Dick Wagner, the museum’s Founding Director. “They come to capture the sights of boats on the water, the light and the feeling that really says I’m in Seattle, and this is what it’s like here.”
Of all the artists inspired by the views at or near The Center for Wooden Boats there is one who comes back over and over: Bellevue’s Charles Fawcett.
Fawcett’s love affair with boats goes back to his childhood. He was raised living on a Thames river sailing barge in his native England. He went to sea in the Merchant Marine at 16 and by 24 he had his unlimited Captain’s license. He rose to be a manager of a major shipping line, finally retiring in 2005. But since the mid-‘90s, Fawcett, among many things, has been painting – and images of the seas, boats, rocky shores that he might have once approached have been a constant theme in his work.
Another constant theme in his work is the boats and scenes around CWB. It’s hard to say how many of CWB’s boats Fawcett has painted, but the total is probably nearing two dozen, and growing. For Wagner, having so many of CWB’s boats captured in oils is an honor. “Charles’ paintings are bright and adventurous. He has a great vision of what’s happening on the boats and is able to capture the weather, the sense of movement and activity.”
Fawcett does many other kinds of paintings, but it is the quality in Fawcett’s maritime works that caught the editors’ eyes at 48oNorth, the Seattle area’s local sailing publication. Many of Fawcett’s paintings inspired by the boats around CWB have ended up as cover art on the magazine in the past decade. “We probably use three of Charles’ paintings as cover art every year,” said Karen Higginson Associate Editor of 48North. “His work captures the essence of sailing, particularly in the Northwest.” Famed Annapolis Yacht Racer, Olympian, Americas Cup winning tactician and ESPN Sailing Commentator Gary Jobson on receiving his copy of a recent 48North sent the editors a note saying how amazing Fawcett’s cover was.
So how does a retired captain and shipping line manager with a penchant for painting end up at CWB? As with most people, it has to do with people. More than a decade ago, Fawcett was racing Snipe sailboats at the Corinthian Yacht Club at Shilshole when he went up against Mindy Ross, CWB’s Sailing Education Manager. She suggested a fleet party at CWB and, once there, suggested Fawcett might like to instruct on some of the museum’s fleet of historic wooden boats.
“I felt that I would like to give something back and so started teaching and have loved it ever since,” said Fawcett. “Eleven years later, I’m maybe a bit slower but I feel the same enjoyment. CWB provides a sense of friendship and partnership.”
Fawcett doesn’t just volunteer at CWB on the water. He also lends a hand in the office, setting up bank deposits to make sure that the money from lessons or from cash donations gets into the correct piles and bundles.
Fawcett continues to be recognized for his paintings. Today some of them are on display at The Sixgill, the maritime pub and restaurant at 35th and Evanston in Seattle’s Fremont neighborhood (in the building right across the street from the Rocket).
If you’re interested in seeing more of Charles’ work, you’ll find it online at http://charlesnfawcett.com/default.htm But if you want to find Charles in the element he paints so often, sign up for a one-on-one lesson online at http://cwb.org/classes/one-on-one-lessons/ You’ll find Charles Fawcett among the instructors you can choose from. Unless he’s off again on his annual sailing charter somewhere warm, wet, and wonderful.