CRANBERRY ISLES — Visitors to Little Cranberry can now picture themselves as a sternman, or the day’s catch itself, to remember a key thread of life on the Maine coast.
Once people arrive on Little Cranberry (Islesford) by boat, most walk the gangway onto the mainland. There is a museum, a restaurant, a food wagon and a little store that now has more than T-shirts and stickers to memorialize the trip.
Now, attached to the Cranberry Isles Fisherman’s Co-op’s little store is a cutout board with a faceless sternman and a headless lobster.
Charlotte Partin of Southwest Harbor, who will be a freshman at Mount Desert Island High School this fall, just finished the cutout board. It stands eight feet tall and eight feet wide and was installed with a standing platform last week.
Friday was Charlotte’s first time on the island since the cutout board had been put in place.
“This will be my first time seeing it up,” she said on the boat ride out. “It’s not completely [done] because I have to do touch-ups.”
In the two days since installation, employees of the little store had already seen people get excited to pose for a photo at the cutout.
“I did see one little boy jump up there this morning and he kept saying, ‘I’m pretending to be a lobster,’” said Christine Sandberg, an employee of the shop. “He must have said it three times.”
Using 11 different colors, Partin painted the lobsterman wearing orange overalls, a teal long-sleeved top and orange gloves standing next to a pile of wooden lobster pots. In one hand is a large lobster.
“I wanted to make sure it was a more modern version instead of the classic fisherman,” said Partin. “I also wanted to make it non-specific so anyone could stand on it. I didn’t want to show skin or anything. I wanted to make it a tad cartoonish.”
While the fisherman is wearing modern oil gear instead of a classic yellow rainsuit, the wooden traps on the board are from a different era.
“I worked so hard on those traps, I’m not touching them!” said Partin as she inspected her piece. “It gives it a bit of a classic detail.”
Today, fishermen typically use rectangular wire traps. Members of the co-op suggested putting wooden traps in the painting.
Partin’s mom came up with the cutout board idea for the co-op’s store. Partin’s dad is an employee of the co-op and was excited to pitch the idea to members of the organization.
After reviewing Partin’s sketch, all 28 member fishermen gave her the go ahead.
“I did an initial sketch and they approved,” said Partin who then had to scale it up on two four-by-eight slabs. “I free-hand scaled it. I was having a bit of trouble proportioning things and I’m scolding myself.”
Partin prefers drawing with pencils but took on the challenge of a large-scale painting with determination. She was paid by the hour by the co-op to create the cutout. Working in spurts throughout summer vacation, Partin logged about 40 hours on the project.
To figure out what colors to use, Partin put the image of her original sketch into the computer. With the use of a program, Partin could change shades of portions of the print easily to hone in on the final hues. At the hardware store Partin purchased interior paints with the closest matching color, with a weatherproof sealant to finish the board.
“Originally my initial sketch had a lot more parts and details that I took out to simplify it a bit,” said Partin.
She anticipates visiting Islesford occasionally to keep the cutout board in good shape.
“I guess we had always planned that I would need to come out and do some touch-ups,” said Partin.