Category Archives: My General Blog

Links Fixed on marinemodelartist.com

If you’ve been exploring my links here in the past month or so, you may have noticed that my site marinemodelartist.com has been having some problems. I consolidated my web hosting accounts and, in the process, broke my site. I didn’t even realize it wasn’t working until fairly recently.

Today I managed to figure out what was wrong, and I’ve been updating my links. By the time you read this post, it should all be back to normal. Of course, I still have some updating to do to my current projects, but those are normal updates rather that fixes.

For those who are curious about this kind of thing. That site was created and is still maintained using an old piece of Apple software called iWeb. Surprisingly, this long unsupported application still runs fine on current Mac operating systems. Unless I decide to change the format of that site, I’ll probably keep using it as long as it works.

Photos from the Golden Hind Repair

I was just sent some photos taken last Friday during the final stages of my repair work on Raymond Aker’s Golden Hind model. The model is on display at the Bear Valley Visitor Center of the Pt. Reyes National Seashore.

The repair work is done – yes, I finally finished a ship model related project – and the model is back in its display, with a new, more colorful backdrop.

All photos are courtesy of the National Park Service.

Repairing the Golden Hind

A couple months ago, fellow ship modeler Ed Von Der Porten (you might have read his articles in Seaways’ Ships in Scale magazine), got me lined up with some work for the Pt. Reyes National Seashore. The job entailed doing some light repair work to the large Golden Hind model on display at the Bear Valley Visitor Center at Pt. Reyes Station. I’ve done some various repair work before, but this is the first work done at the a museum level. We worked out the details and the work too place over the past couple weeks, with the bulk of the work done on-site.

The model is one of the Golden Hind, built by Raymond Aker back in the 1950s. The model is HUGE, built at 1:12 scale. I don’t know the specifics of how long it took him to build the model, but it’s not an ordinary model, it’s a cut-away, showing all the interior and structural details.

 

Raymond Aker was an artist and there are many signs of that in this model. The first thing that’s noticeable is the use of forced perspective to make the viewer feel a lot closer to the model, almost as if one was on the deck. It’s quite a visual experience and must have required an enormous amount of planning.

While the mainmast is normal in all respects, the features of the fore and mizzen masts are purposely distorted. Below is a photo of the mizzen crow’s nest. You can see that the mast cap is skewed and also the tenon. Not only that, but if you could see the squared sections of the mast, like the heel of the mizzen topmast, you’d see that was distorted too. Even the positions of the shrouds are slightly moved.

You can also tell that the builder was an artist when you look at some of the painted details inside the ship, like the stern chaser, which is a painted cardboard cutout. All of the figures on the model are made the same way, and clearly painted using watercolors with very nice shading and highlighting.

When you look at the ladders, you’ll notice false shadows painted below each step. Also, in the above photo, you can see how the upper deck shows bright red bulwarks, which are much more subdued in the shadows of the deck below.

There is, of course, much more to see about this model, and if you’re in the area, I highly recommend taking a drive out to Pt. Reyes Station. It’s a nice drive, and there lovely scenery and hiking out there. The model itself is in the Bear Valley Visitor Center inside the theater.

As for the repair work, it’s all done, mostly some small rigging repairs, such as the spritsail sling, fore lower yard starboard lift, the fore topsail bowlines, mizzen parrals, etc. Also, the thread holding the bolt ropes to the sails is very fragile and has come off in many places, so I did some work on those.

Working on a model for a museum presented some new challenges for me. First, was doing all the work on-site, second, was that the model was so large, it had to sit on the floor, and I did most all of the work standing, lastly, due to strict standards of preservation, I had to do all the work wearing gloves. That’s something I’ve never done before, and it took some getting used to.

As it turns out, it wasn’t all that bad. Working with small parts in particular, I discovered that I never dropped any small parts while wearing gloves. And, as any ship modeler out there knows,  dropping parts is one of the most frustrating occurrences in ship modeling, as parts dropped are often never found again. I may just have to try using gloves more often.

The only problem with these surgical gloves is that my hands get sweaty. Fortunately, I had some very thin cotton gloves I could wear inside these, and that helped out a lot.

The model is very narrow. It’s designed to be viewed directly from the side, and forced perspective is used to give it the illusion of depth.

 

The model is now done, and around 4pm yesterday, we lifted her back onto her display cabinet, and the acrylic panels were put back into place. There is also a new backdrop that seems to really bring out the color on the model and really makes it pop. This is a neat model. Go see it if you can. Ω

My Projects Update

While I’ve been working on the Japanese shrine model this past week, I’ve hit a minor snag. What I thought was an adhesive backing on some wood veneer turns out to be simply a lining to keep the thin wood from falling apart. I can’t tell what it is, if it’s a shiny, slick kind of paper, or if it’s plastic. I sent a question about it to my contact at Woody Joe and, in the meantime, I’m testing out how well wood glue adheres to it on some scrap material. One way or the other, I should know tomorrow.

In the meantime, I’m finishing up the rigging and final details on the Colonial Schooner Independence model. Mostly, I’m dealing with rope coils now. So, it was quite fortuitous that the latest newsletter from the Midwest Model Shipwrights of Chicago, The Forecastle Report, had a nice article on making rope coils by Bob Filipowski.

I’m also trying to push forward with a rigging project for a friend, and of course there is the HMS Victory model I’ve been working on for the past few years.

On top of all that, I managed to land a very good, short term repair job project for the Bear Creek Visitor Center at Pt. Reyes Station, which is part of the Pt. Reyes National Seashore, just north of San Francisco.

The project is to do some basic repair work to a large and rather unusual model of the Gold Hind built by the late Raymond Akers back in the 1950s. The model is a cutaway that has been designed to display up close against a wall. As such, the model is uniquely made so that the width of the ship has been scaled down. It is designed to be only viewed directly from the side.

Raymond Akers’ Golden Hind model.

I’ll be driving up there in about a week to do some preliminary work. The bulk of the work has to be done on-site at the end of the month, and I’ll be spending a couple days there to get it all done. It’s a nice short-term project that involves mostly small rigging repair and a little cleaning. It’s an honor to be able to work on Mr. Akers’ model, and it will be nice to be doing some work for the National Park Service. It’s especially nice that it’s a pretty self-contained project that won’t last beyond this month.

In the meantime, I’ve been missing doing research, which is really my favorite task in ship modeling. I’m just a researcher at heart. So, I’ve been digging up my Japanese boat resources and doing translations and such, trying to figure out what a good model subject will be. It’s difficult to decide since there is some information available about a lot of different kinds of boats, but not a lot on any one in particular.

The exception are boats that are the subject of Douglas Brooks’ work. The thing about those, is that they are fairly simple boat designs, but have some very fine details. So, I can build small versions of those, but they end up a bit too simple to look at. I could build them in a large scale, like 1/10, but then the details are about nail positions, tenons, mortises, etc., and I’m not very good at those things. I’m better at the larger details, like planks, beams, decking, and other structural details.

Two subjects I’m considering now an Amibune, which is a subject that Douglas Brooks had been studying, so I have access to measurements and some photos. The other is to model the Senzanmaru, which is a Kujirabune, a type of fast whale boat. I can make a generic Kujirabune, but it would be interesting to model the Senzanmaru itself and to paint it like the actual boat.

The Senzanmaru (千山丸) at Tokushima Castle Museum.

I’ve been studying the design of this boat through a book and drawings I purchased from a museum shop in Toba, Japan. Some of the small details I’m still not sure I understand. I could do a smaller scale model, which would overlook some of those details, but I’m tempted to do something large enough, maybe as large as 1/10 scale, that would allow me to try to make an impressive looking model, complete with colorful painting and banners.

For the next couple weeks, at least, I’ll probably continue to gather info on the Senzanmaru and Kujirabune and Amibune, until I find I have enough to do a reasonable build.

In the meantime, I got my Japanese boat models back from the last display in Japantown and have some minor repair work to do. I also have my Kamakura period Umibune back now and can continue working on it. I did managed to finish some important detail on the roof of the main deckhouse, but there are a number of other details I’ll be adding. I’ll write more about that on my wasen modeler site.

Finally, I never sent my article in to Ships in Scale on the building of the paper model of the HMS Alert. I’ll give it another read-through, but last time, I thought I should write a section on paper modeling in general. We’ll see how it feels when I re-read it. If it feels okay, I’ll just go ahead and mail it in, and maybe it will show up in the magazine by the end of the year or early next year. Ω

 

Changes to this Site

My apologies to those who follow this blog site or make periodic visits. You’re probably wondering why everything is so screwey. Things keep moving, titles keep changing, menus are all different or missing…

Well, I decided that it’s time to do some reorganizing and Spring cleaning. Part of this was prompted by the need to add a new menu so that I could separate any non-ship model related work, like the Shinmei-zukuri shrine kit I recently started to build. Plus, there are 3 other non-ship model kits in the closet and one completed castle I wrote about a couple years ago.

Also, I discovered that there have been some problems with this site, again brought to light when I started that shrine model kit. For some reason, it was showing up in my ship modeling news, even though I specifically have it categorized as a non-ship model. There are other issues that I’m starting to butt up against with this WordPress site. Though I have to say that this system has really made it relatively easy to manage a website like this.

Obviously, I still have some studying to do to better understand all the functions, but I’m very happy with it. I’ve been using the free version too, but I think that’s going to have to change so I can get some help from the WordPress staff on some issues. They helped me on another site I work on and they were a great help. As a bonus, the occasional unrelated ads that you see here should also disappear.

In any case, please bear with me as I do some reorganizing here. If you want to provide any feedback on the site and its organization, please feel free. Let me know what you think. Just use the comments feature on any page to send your thoughts. They won’t appear on the site, but I’ll get them.

Thank you!

New Japanese Models Distraction

This week was like Christmas here, as a shipment of Japanese wooden model kits arrived from Zootoyz, my recommended Japanese online hobby dealer. Four model kits came, and none of them are ship model kits. I decided I needed some nice gift ideas, so I found a number of Woody Joe kits that I can build and present as gifts to my Japanese music teacher, and my family and friends.

I have a lot of ship modeling projects to work on, so I don’t expect to spend a lot of time working on these right away. But, half of these are very simple mini-architectural kits that Woody Joe lists as taking about 8 hours to complete. Perfect for a small weekend distraction!

Teahouse Mini-Architecture Kit

Continue reading

Friday the 13th of January – A Late Christmas Day

Not meaning to be blasphemous here! Just that Friday the 13th is considered an unlucky day for some, but has traditionally been a good day for me. In fact, I got three new goodies in the mail that day, all ship modeling related, of course!

Continue reading

Finishing Up the Year

My Japan trip and the NRG conference have together taken about 2 months of my time this year, what with the events themselves, plus all the planning, re-planning, and preparations. So, with the trip and the conference behind me, it’s now time to look at where I’m at on everything.

Higaki Kaisen Article

The first thing I needed to get back to is my article on building Woody Joe’s Higaki Kaisen kit that I’m working on for Seaways’ Ships in Scale. I just went through and made a set of additions and corrections that I’ve been working on. And today, I’ve finished working out what photos I’m including and my recommended placement within the article. I don’t know where they’ll actually appear – that’s up to the editors. But, I can make suggestions.

I still have to write my captions for them, but that’s about it. Then, I’ll make one last set of formatting corrections – I’m told that foreign words should be italicized. I’ve been reluctant to do that because when you’re writing about a model of a Japanese ship manufactured by a Japanese model manufacturer, that’s an awful lot of italicized words. To me, it’s a bit distracting. We’ll see what happens when I get to that final stage.

One thing I didn’t do this time around is to add a bunch of phonetic pronunciation the way I did with past articles. It seemed too much this time. But, after talking with people at the NRG Conference and hearing some people struggle with pronunciation, maybe I’ll include some of the words phonetically spelled out in table form.

HMS Alert Article

My next writing project really should be a write up on building the paper model kit of the cutter HMS Alert. I was reminded of the potential interest in this at the NRG Conference. One very experienced ship modeler that I have a lot of respect for had enthusiastically pointed out my model to others. He has expressed an interest in building the model himself, which is the best complement on my model that I can think of.

The Nautical Research Journal also just included an article on the building of a Dutch ship from paper, and I know that was because of the editor’s interest in the subject.

I’m not sure if I’ll target an article for the Journal or for Ships in Scale yet. If I do something simple, it would be nice to have another article in the Journal. But, seeing as how I’d really like to see more people building these wonderful kits from Poland, I have an interest in Ships in Scales larger circulation.

Hacchoro Build Article

The final article in my list is one on building variants of Woody Joe’s Hacchoro kit. Having visited the two replica Hacchoro in Japan last month, I have a strong incentive to do this. It will be a bit more involved than the Alert article though, as I haven’t built a variant yet. However, I did purchase another Hacchoro kit to use, and maybe I will purchase a second one.

I will have to build them and take lots of photos if I’m going to write about them. But, the kit is very easy to build, and the modifications I’d make should be pretty straight forward.

I may not actually do anything on this until after the first of the year. Certainly, I won’t start on it until after I complete my HMS Alert article.

HMS Victory Commission

Of course, while all this is going on, I need to put most of my effort into working on the HMS Victory. If you’ve been following my blog, you’ve probably seen this brought up from time to time. I’m now at the stage where I’m trying to finish up the planking using boxwood that I milled from a large board I purchased a couple years ago.

The gun ports gave me a run for my money. But, I finished those months ago and have been planking ever since. I’ve now planked around the upper and middle gun decks and hope to finish planking around the lower gun deck this weekend. Then, once I get down to the waterline, it will be smooth sailing, as the hull will be coppered below.

I’m really looking forward to getting the planking done, so I can finish the stern galleries. Then, once I get the headrails done and the bottom coppered, I can mount the hull, at least temporarily, and focus on the upper works, get the guns mounted on the upper gun deck and get the forecastle deck in place. Lots of work yet!

Bekabune

My side project when there’s time is to work on the Urayasu Bekabune and get a scratch model built. It’s a very simple boat, but building one from scratch is a whole new experience for me. I took my work in progress to the NRG conference, where I showed people what I’m doing with it. But, it would be nice to be able to add that to one of my Japanese boat models displays in San Francisco’s Japantown.

Last week, I was in Berkeley and stopped in at the Japanese tool store Hida Tools. I’ve been wanting to expand my selection of small carving chisels and bought three of them. I can only afford the cheapest ones, which are actually pretty nice and just under $8 each.

Japanese Boat Models Display

Speaking of which, the next scheduled display runs from November 1 through November 30. Because I have so much going on right now, I will probably only include the same models as last time. I might not even include the Japanese boat workshop, since I took the boat out of it to work on. I wanted to make some new folding stands so I can increase the number of models displayed and also be able to carry everything in my car in one trip. But, we’ll have to see how that goes as the display starts in just over 2 weeks.

I’d planned to print up some announcement cards like I did last time. But, being so close after the NRG Conference and all, I think I’ll scrap that idea and just get the display up. Maybe next time, I’ll get more elaborate with the set up and the announcements.

So, that’s it for now. Stay tuned to find out what changes and what I end up working on instead! Ω

Speaking at the 2016 NRG Conference

Having been involved in Ship Modeling for more than 20 years, I’ve been a big admirer of the Nautical Research Guild and the work of its impressive membership. There have been so many great modelers involved in the Guild, I feel honored to be speaking together in a combined talk with boatbuilder Douglas Brooks at the opening talk of this year’s conference in San Diego. Douglas Brooks will be reprising his talk at last year’s conference on Japanese Wooden Boatbuilding, while I’ll be adding the element of modeling them.

IMG_1804

Douglas Brooks speaking at the 2015 NRG Conference in Mystic, CT.

Granted, my portion of the talk will the shorter segment. In the 15 minutes or so that I’ll have, I’ll only be able to scratch the surface of the subject, mostly talking about resources available to those who are interested in building a traditional Japanese boat. Pretty much, just enough to give folks a nudge toward attempting one.

The other part of my participation at the conference came as something of a surprise as I was told just last month that I was scheduled to do one of the round table sessions. These are 20-minute sessions that takes place simultaneously with 4 other sessions. People attend the session of their choice, and after 20 minutes, people then switch to another table. So, basically, I have a 20-minute demo, repeated a total of 4 times (with one 20-minute break).

Having no idea what I was expected to do, I’d considered a couple possibilities. The first thing that actually came to mind that I thought would work out, was to demo some of the details of paper modeling. Having completed only 1 paper model made it seem a bit odd, but I don’t think anyone else has done it, and I actually did have some interesting techniques to show.

But, talking with Kurt Van Dahm, the NRG Chairman, and others, it seemed that the idea was to give me more time to talk about modeling Japanese boats. So, I’ll be talking a mix of building Japanese kits and building from scratch. It seems a bit odd to me, as talking about kits seems a bit like a sales pitch. The only thing preventing it from being a complete conflict of interest, seeing as how I’ve done some work for Ages of Sail, is that Ages of Sail doesn’t currently carry any of the kits I’ll be talking about. And, my most highly recommended kit, the Tosa Wasen, will only be available direct from the manufacturer.

Bekabune model gifted to me from the Urayasu Museum.

Bekabune model given to me by the curator of the Urayasu Museum.

In any case, I’ll bring my in-progress Urayasu Bekabune models and a small supply of Japanese woods for people to sample themselves, giving them a chance to sand, cut and bend them. Show a couple in-progress kits, talk about how to read the Japanese language plans, etc. A 20-minute discussion should go by pretty quick, then repeat it three more times.

I really hope it won’t end up being the lamest NRG round table discussion in history, and people will find it interesting and useful. Wish me luck!