Category Archives: Clubs and Organizations

Ship Modelers Meet Again at the Vallejo Museum, California

After a long hiatus, mostly fueled by the Covid pandemic, I organized a gathering of local ship modelers on Saturday, March 19th, at the Vallejo Naval and Historical Museum. This particular group used to meet quarterly at the museum, but haven’t gotten together in nearly 3 years.

In addition to 6 ships under construction or repair, two unstarted projects were presented. In addition, we had 3 special guests, including the new museum director, Melinda McCrary – for those that know the previous director, Jim Kern, he retired late last year. The other two guests were from a special project in Vallejo for teaching STEM skills to young people, which involves, among other things, building boats!

Our members come from as far west as Marin to as far east as Sacramento and Rocklin. We range from first time ship modelers, to experienced builders of large 3-masted warships. But, it’s not all about sailing ships. One of our members, Steve Cowdin, is the builder of two of the large battleship models currently on display at the U.S.S. Iowa Museum down in Los Angeles, as well as a restorer of the U.S.S. California model at the Vallejo Naval and Historical Museum.

U.S.S. California model.

Given that we traditionally meet only once every three months, our next gathering should be sometime in or around June. The amount of time should be enough to allow us all to make a little progress on our projects.

For me personally, I can definitely say that the meeting inspired and motivated me to make some good progress on my ship modeling projects. It even got me to pull out old projects to re-evaluate them and possibly resume one or two of them.

I’ll be looking forward to our next get together. But, in the meantime, a couple other local ship modeling clubs have resumed their in-person meetings, and I’ll be involved with those. I can only hope that those go as well as this one did.

By the way, if you’re in the area and are an active ship modeler and interested in coming to our get-togethers in Vallejo, be sure to leave a comment below, and I’ll add you to our group email list. Ω

Tablesaw Virtual Workshop, Saturday, December 11, 2021

This coming Saturday, the Nautical Research Guild is hosting an online workshop, covering the use of small hobby table saws, such as that from Byrnes Model Machines and others. The title of the workshop is “Using the Table Saw Safely”, and it will be given by NRG Director Kurt Van Dahm on Saturday, 12/11, at 10am CST.

According to an announcement by the NRG, the presenter will show how to perform rip cuts, cross cuts, lap joints, miters and other common operations in a safe and efficient manner.

Pre-registration is required in order to attending this hour-long virtual workshop, but it is free to Nautical Research Guild members. Non-members may still attend, but there is a $5 fee. For more information or to register, click here. Ω

 

NRG Workshop on Upgrading Your Kit Project

Want to take that ordinary wooden ship model kit and make something extraordinary from it? The Nautical Research Guild has organized a workshop just for you!

On Saturday, August 21st at 10am Central, that’s a bright and early 8am for those of us on the west coast, NRG Chairperson Toni Levine will be giving a workshop “The Ship Modeler’s Ten Step Program or How to Transform Your Kit Model from Out of the Box to Out of this World”

According to the NRG announcement today, this is a web-based workshop that requires advanced registration, which is free to NRG members, and only $10 for non-NRG members. Of course, you’ll need an Internet connected device such as a tablet, smart phone, or computer to attend. And, you’ll need to register, but space is limited. So, register soon!

For more information, including how to register, visit the NRG page here.

The NRG’s 2021 Photographic Ship Model Competition Announced

Just got the news that the Nautical Research Guild will be holding their Photographic Ship Model Competion again this year. I believe this is only the fourth time they’ve done this. It sort of makes up for the fact that there will again be no NRG conference this year.

Steve Wheeler’s award winning model of a whitehall canoe from the 2011 competition. Photo courtesy of the NRG.

All entries are judged and receive a review that can be very helpful for builders who want to know what they could improve on future builds. The cost is $30 per entry, and the deadline for entries is Monday, August 2nd, 2021, according to the NRG’s website, but the actual rules state that the deadline is August 1st.

I entered the contest one time in 2015, which was the last time it was held. In the Journeyman category, I got a bronze medal for my model of the War of 1812 privateer Lively. I also got a blue ribbon for my pilot schooner Mary Taylor.

Private Armed Schooner Lively, my bronze medal model.

My Blue Ribbon Mary Taylor, which I think is actually a better model than my Lively.

For those of us who like to enter such things, a photographic competition is a great way to go, since the model doesn’t have to be transported anywhere to be reviewed, it just needs to be photographed. There are very specific rules about the photos required and such, but it’s all explained in the rules. You can find the detail on the NRG’s website here.

I don’t know if I’ll submit any entries this year. The models I’ve been working on the most are the Japanese watercraft, which for me are really more about the research and the subject matter than any award winning artistry, or as in the case of my recently completed cog model, about exploring the new medium of paper and card. Then again, it’s been 6 years since the last competition, and I must have completed at least one interesting model that’s competition worthy.

Anyway, if this kind of thing is for you, then you should check it out, but you must be an NRG member in good standing. Check out all the previous competition winners at the bottom of the contests page here. Ω

No NRG Conference for 2021

Sad news for fans of the Nautical Research Guild’s annual conferences. The NRG secretary just announced that there will again be no annual NRG conference this year due to continued Covid concerns.

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The conference was to take place in the Fall at the Channel Islands Maritime Museum, the same place as originally planned for the 2020 conference, which was also cancelled.  The next conference will now be in 2022, and the intent is to hold it at the same venue location.

It’s unfortunate that the conference had to be again cancelled, but as the NRG secretary explained, many NRG members are at high risk for Covid exposure, so the board of directors made the difficult call to cancel the event.

It looks as though the annual meeting that usually takes place at the conference will be held virtually via Zoom or some similar videoconferencing service. Further details on this meeting should be forthcoming. Ω

 

NRG Annual Membership Meeting

The Nautical Research Guild’s annual conference for 2020 is cancelled due to COVID issues, but they recently announced that they will be holding their annual membership meeting after all, only it will be a virtual meeting. Members will be able to attend the meeting from the safety and comfort of their own homes. The meeting, normally part of the conference, is scheduled to take place on Saturday, December 5th, at 11am Central / 9am Pacific.

The NRG is now asking members to RSVP, so they can plan on how much they need to upgrade their video conferencing service. Attending the membership meeting is free to all members, but it sounds like the NRG itself will need to pay for the upgraded service.

I haven’t seen any of this information actually posted on the NRG website yet. So, if you’re a member, please make sure to contact the main office with your response. Watch your email for more information. Ω

NRG Website Revamped

The Nautical Research Guild is a ship modeling society that dates back to the 1940s and today runs the world’s largest ship modeling forum, Model Ship World. The organization is the publisher of what I believe is the last ship modeling magazine in print, the Nautical Research Journal.

They recently revamped their website and it looks great. Very up to date, with improved navigation and organization. Check it out at https://thenrg.org.

If you don’t know about the NRG, but are interested in ship modeling, I strongly urge you to become a member. It’s not a requirement in order to be on the Model Ship World forum, but you’ll get the quarterly Journal subscription, and it’s a great organization to support. I highly recommend it. Just click the “Join” button in the upper right hand corner of their home page. Ω

 

 

 

Zoom Meetings for Ship Modelers

These days, It’s pretty tough on ship model clubs, not being able to gather together to swap model making stories. But, like other groups across the country, the South Bay Model Shipwrights recently tested out meeting using video conferencing. Zoom has practically become a household word now, though there are other systems available.

This past Thursday, the group had its first test meeting, which I was involved in. It was the first time I had seen some of my ship modeling friends in months, so it was a nice virtual gathering. Being a test meeting, it was just a subset of the whole club, but it wasn’t really all that much smaller than many of the physical meetings.

There were a few glitches to iron out, but overall it was a success. The main issue may be in the use of the free Zoom meeting accounts, which allow only 40 minute meetings. There are ways around this, which require members to log out and then back in, but this being the group’s first meeting, Zoom automatically extends it as a courtesy.

Next week, the group is going to attempt a meeting of the full members, at least those that have computers with video conferencing capabilities anyway. The hope is to meet regularly, maybe even every two weeks, as these meetings provide the only means for some of us to maintain some kind of normal-ish social contact. We’ll see how that works out.

Other Zoom Meetings

I’m personally considering setting up a Zoom paid subscription, as it will allow me to host meetings without such time limits. I’m hoping to get the Hyde Street Pier Model Shipwrights together with a Zoom meeting, as this small group has all but disappeared. Other clubs have been holding similar meetings these days, including the Chicago club and the SMA in Fullerton.

Today, I missed out on a Zoom class by Douglas Brooks on half hull modeling. I think it was the first he’d done by Zoom. I’m interested to hear from him as to how it went.

Zoom and Wasen Modeling

I’ve personally been attending a Zoom meeting of a wasen (Japanese traditional boat) study group that meets every other week, and I have to say that of all the terrible things we have to deal with because of the Covid-19 crisis, by forcing groups into virtual meetings, it’s given me an opportunity to meet with folks and to participate in a way that I wouldn’t otherwise have been able. Hopefully, once things get better, some amount of these video meetings will continue to take place.

And while it’s not a ship model group, this group, called Wasen Kenkyu Kai, has finally given me an audience that is specifically interesting in the things I’ve been modeling so much lately. Sadly, my Japanese language skills are very poor, so it can be a frustrating experience. Time to really work on my conversational Japanese!

Regarding Zoom and my work on traditional Japanese boats, given the scattered interest in the subject, I’m starting to think I need to host a Zoom meeting of people who are interested enough in the subject to join a virtual meeting. I’m sure it would be a very small meeting, but it might at least prove interesting. Ω 

 

 

 

 

NRG Conference 2021

While the Nautical Research Guild conference was supposed to take place this Fall. It was canceled some time ago due to the unknowns of the Corona Virus outbreak. But, if things manage to improve over the next year, and let’s hope they actually do, the next NRG conference will then take place October 21 – 23, 2021.

The venue is unchanged, still set to take place at the Channel Islands Maritime Museum in Oxnard, California. No other details have been announced, but the event is more than a year away. Probably, more information will be available about this time next year.

This should give all you ship modelers some time to finish the awesome project you want to display at the event. Since the museum is one of my old haunts, we’ll before they moved anyway, and it’s just a drive down the coast from here, I expect I’ll try to have one of my models on display. Not sure which I would want to display. But, as I said, there should be plenty of time to work on one before then, so I guess I’d better get to work on something awesome.

For more information about the conference and the venue, visit the NRG website here. Ω

 

 

South Bay Model Shipwrights – No March Meeting

It seems that the coronavirus COVID-19 is affecting events in the Bay Area, and the monthly meeting of the South Bay Model Shipwrights has been canceled for the month of March. The next scheduled meeting is on Friday, April 10th.

The club is expected to have a table set up again at this years IPMS show in San Jose, which takes place on Saturday, April 18th.

Club meetings normally take place at 7pm on the 3rd Friday of every month, but this is subject to room availability at Los Altos Public Library.

South Bay Model Shipwrights Meeting
7:00pm
Los Altos Public Library
13 S. San Antonio Road
Los Altos, CA

For more information about the group, visit http://www.sbmodelships.com or email club president Jim Retta here.

Ω