First of its kind class teaches SADAH students to design and build their own kayaks

School of Art Design and Art History

Kayak building class at JMU

Assistant Professor of Industrial Design Kevin Phaup has created a new class for students in the School of Art, Design and Art History, Paddlesports Design: Tranquil Transportation (INDU302). The inaugural semester will have advanced industrial design students designing and building skin-on-frame kayaks. Students will also be creating video diaries of their progress, challenges and solutions.
Students will engage equally in the woodshop and studio spaces as they learn by following design plans created by Brian Schulz of Cape Falcon Kayaks.  Phaup received professional development funding through JMU to learn from Cape Falcon Kayaks how to design and build kayaks; he hopes to continue his training in the future by learning how to design and build canoes and paddleboards.
Each student will make their own kayak from scratch, similar to those used historically by Inuit and Aleutian Eskimos, with an emphasis on not only craftsmanship, but also ergonomics and human behavior.IMG_7285-500.jpg
“I choose to use Brian Schulz designs because he has been designing and building kayaks for over 20 years – he’s developed a modern building system for historical skin on frame kayaks,” said Phaup. “We are working similarly to how a painter might be trained in a “master” copy. This course required some significant time and money invested by all involved, I wanted to make sure that students could leave with a kayak that performs well and will be comfortable and safe.”
To help students understand what makes a great kayak, they will undergo training at University Recreation to learn water and boating safety; they will go kayaking at Switzer Lake and whitewater kayaking on the James River in Richmond, Va.
IMG_7145.JPGIn addition to building the Cape Falcon Kayaks, students will engage in the study of hull design, kayak history and other wooden boat construction through research and presentation. During the second half of the semester, students have a variety of ways to take what they’ve learned and create their own design to build new kayaks, canoes, paddle boards and appropriate accessories. Students will document the class through a digital journal full of process imagery, final outcomes and thoughtful reflections.
The series of videos about the class is available at SADAH’s Facebook page @JMUSADAH

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Published: Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Last Updated: Thursday, November 2, 2023

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