Happy New Year to you all! This is the last update for this project, as HMS Beagle is now complete!
The model making part of the project was finished just before Christmas, leaving only the base and the brass plinths to be completed.
The base is made of a piece of Dark Teak with an ornate edging which I routered in keeping with the design of the brass plinths. I used a teak oil finish, giving the wood a burnished look by using three layers of wax after the oil had dried. The plinths themselves were turned by a good friend of mine, as my poor lathe could not cope with 40mm brass rod! I decided against the traditional glossy brass, as the brushed metal blends better with the rest of the display.
Once it was all stuck and bolted together it was time to step back, critically examining the overall “look” of the model – how all pieces work together, how the shading fits in the with the rest of the ship, whether colours blend in, and whether there is anything that really stands out. Having a Christmas break allowed me to forget the model for a time and fresh eyes picked out many small problems which careful airbrushing helped to remove. I thought the main flag looked rather stiff and unnatural, so made a few alterations. The flag and the pennant are made out of shim brass sheet, a very thin brass ideal for the job, with a wire soldered to the edge for the rope. This was painted white, and transfers added for the art work. The metal was twisted to look like a flowing piece of material, and, using my trusty airbrush, I added shading to the folds, allowing it texture and definition.
The main problem was cleaning the deck. Imagine the deck, carrying canons, rigging, winches and numerous other apparatus, as well as bits and pieces of materials left over from the production of the model! Firstly I thought I’d blow the pieces out. I blew….and all the bits went to the other side of the deck. I did it again… and they went back to the opposite side once more. I eventually spent a very long two hours picking out the bits using tweezers!
It certainly has been a journey, but as we draw to the end of the “making of the Beagle”, I hope it has been as enjoyable for you as it has for me. This has been my first model of a sailing ship, and I called upon many sources of information and excellent books in the making and understanding of such. In particular, I would like to credit Karl Heinz Marquardt’s work “HMS Beagle Survey Ship Extraordinaire”, from the ‘Anatomy of a Ship’ series. This book is designed for model makers and was a huge help in getting the project to completion. I have always said that the one of the major problems facing model makers is finding information, and was pleased to note that this was not the case at all in the making of the Beagle!
All pictures of the model used in the updates were taken using my Nikon camera. I have been using black out roller blind from Spotlight, (available in both blue and white), and why I did not do this years ago I do not know, as I think the effect has been brilliant.
I would like to thank the following people for their help and support throughout this project:
Nigel Erskine – Curator, Richella King -Manager of Online Services, Myfanwy Appleton – Web Editing, Peter Webster – Artillerist, Tim Smith – Marine Archaeologist, Mike Rikard-Bell – Marine Archaeologist, Ben Joseph – Plinth Turner, RIchard Taylor – Advisor, Glen Andrews – Retailer, Rhonda Brewer – Retailer.
Finally, I am open to any questions you may have, please feel free to get in touch for a chat. I gave an interview on ABC Radio on the 19th of January which you can listen to.
On the first of February I will be giving a talk on the Beagle and professional model making in general at the Australian National Maritime Museum. For further information please visit the museum’s website.
I look forward to seeing the ship on display as part of the Charles Darwin exhibition on the 20th of March 2009 in the ANMM Gallery One!
Contributed by model-maker Mike Bass.