Claudia Miranda Monteleagre was born in Caracas, Venezuela, and, like all kids, liked toys, but in her case, so much so that she decided that when she grew up she was going to be a toy designer. When Claudia was older, she relocated to Europe and while there continued moving from country to country. By the time Claudia graduated from high school, she spoke five languages and could continue her education almost anywhere in the world. In 2013, she enrolled in the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) in Savannah, Georgia, a college with one of the best industrial design programs in America.
In one of her first classes, “Introduction to Industrial Design,” Claudia met Jacob Phillips, and the two became good friends with a shared interest in design concepts and ideas. In 2016, they both took a class that involved building a kayak. It started with the whole class working on a strip-built kit kayak from Guillemot Kayaks as an introduction to boat design and construction. The class then split up to design and build their own kayaks using the experience they’d gained. Claudia and Jacob teamed up and began their design process by studying existing kayaks and making sketches, CAD drawings, and scale-model prototypes with 3D printers and CNC routers.
Neither Claudia nor Jacob came into that class with much experience in marine design beyond scanning online videos and blogs. For guidance on construction, they studied Nick Schade’s The Strip-Built Sea Kayak. While pondering the practical elements of kayak construction, they also considered the artistic possibilities offered by wood strips. For the deck, they sought to bend accent strips of exotic hardwoods to mimic the rhythm of waves and ripples and “guide the eyes of the viewer through a vibrant path of beautiful colors and intricate forms.” Western red cedar would be the canvas on which they painted with padouk, wenge, curly maple, and zebra wood.
When the kayak was finished, there was a lot of wood left over, so Claudia and Jacob designed and built a striking double-bladed paddle with edge banding that flowed around the blades and across the loom.
The kayak was named DREAMWEAVER and the project was a success. Claudia and Jacob both earned an A for the class. After graduating from SCAD, neither, sadly, continued with boatbuilding. Jacob now teaches design tech at a high school. Claudia became an industrial designer, but never lost sight of what she wanted to be when she grew up. She has worked with toy giants Fisher-Price and Mattel and had a hand in creating The Scooby-Doo Haunted Ghost Town Playset. You can see more of her work at her website.
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