The Hancock-Henderson Quill, Inc.
db Conard, The Quill
Heirlooms - Craftsman
It has been several years now since I first met Rick Bohnenkamp. I was driving past his house in Lomax, when I saw a beautiful wooden kayak sitting outside his garage. Any interesting boat I stumble across makes me stop and visit with its owner. I just can't seem to help it.
The boat was one that Rick had built. He had built it to handle a man well over 6 feet tall and 200 plus pounds. This kayak had outriggers and was 20 feet long, and didn't weigh 50 pounds, yet it could carry Rick plus gear and then some.
In addition to the boat that was sitting outside, there were three more completed boats inside, all hung from the ceiling, each a different style, all beautifully crafted, all hand made by Rick.
Sometimes, when you look beyond the function of an object like in a wooden boat, I find creativity and imagination in the crafting of so many tasks and materials, many different complex fittings that come together as the result of talent and planning. Every strip of wood has begun as a plank, and then is cut, smoothed, shaped and matched to one beside it to create a boat that should endure in time, measured by generations, not mere years.
Like a fine piece of furniture, a wooden boat brings the beauty of wood grains and colors out in a very artful way, and like a painting, keeps its beauty.
I had grown up with a canvas covered wooden canoe that my grandfather had purchased in the early 1930's.
Every wooden boat has its own personality in the way that it handles and balances on the water.
Our canoe could not have been better suited to the whole spectrum of users of different ages to paddle literally hundreds of miles of shore line by four generations of the Conard family.
By stopping at Rick's that day, I could not have foretold his importance to me in the saving of a family treasure and I was most fortunate to have met a true craftsman.
A man who appeared just at the right time to save the life of an old canvas canoe that was almost too fragile for use because of years of sharp rocks and wood rot.
Rick took on my heirloom project and this summer that canoe was transformed into a beautiful classic vessel, once again afloat, and in better than new condition just as it had been for my grandfather almost eighty years ago.
Rick's efforts had resulted in a wooden classic that would again be enjoyed by future generations. Had it not been for him, the canoe might have ended as a decoration on the wall.
My friends and neighbors who have seen the canoe, have without exception, had an appreciation for the classic beauty of the boat, and the craftsmanship it took to restore it.
In addition to the work on the boat, every step of Rick's labor is documented, described and photographed as a log and a how-to-guide for future generations.
Others will experience the same pleasure that our family has with their own well-crafted wooden boats because of the talents and craftsmanship of this man who is building future heirlooms for others.
Rick worked over the summer, and has just finished two new boats, both works of art made entirely of wood that has been beautifully fitted and matched with care to form a strong craft to last for generations.
The boat that is a favorite of mine is a unique 11 foot, 20 pound canoe and will carry my six feet 3 inch frame easily.
The "Treasure In The Heartland" is Rick's legacy of restoring an old boat that was a treasure of my family, and of his building of new heirlooms for others to appreciate for future generations.
Rick's work is unique in that it doesn't lose its value, neither will his efforts, because they are founded in true craftsmanship, appreciated by all who take the time to notice.
FINAL TOUCHES: Rich Bohnenkamp of Lomax, attaches the outwales to an old classic canoe he's restored.