Lately, I know what he means. I am not exactly idle, nor noticeably active. I do a few bits on this job, a few on the other. I blame the heat for my listlessness, but I think it's more. I think I am just tired of modelmaking, or rather, the relentless making of models of things in which I have no interest for others, for money and not much of it!
I have much to do, but choosing which project, which job, is a daily grind. I would rather just get in the car and drive somewhere. Especially now my camera has been set up by my son.
So, during a protracted tea break, I was looking through Iain Robinson's old blogs and came across the one with a canal scene.
Now one of my many hobby horses is the paucity with which people portray canal scenes and especially the boats that belong therein.
I wonder how a man can gaze upon a simple shape like a canal boat and make something so obscure, so hideously wrong that a blind man could see it. Iain was wise to keep any boat out of his very well made scene. The dreariness, the cobbles (or are they setts?), the stasis of the average lock scene and the dirty water, (it's always dirty) are beautifully shewn. Having lived on an historic ex-working boat and owned others, I suppose my fussiness about the making of boat scenes is understandable. I have been around boats since I was 7. Dunkirk Little Ships, fishing boats, canal boats, small harbour craft, Victorian racing cutters, classic speedboats, the humble dinghy. Each and every boat deserves as much trouble taken over its portrayal as the grandest Pacific or the humblest diesel shunter.
So does the quay against which it rests or the mud in which it sits glued waiting for the next tide to squeeze it, sucking and whispering back to life afloat. The ropes, chains, anchors, ladders, deck hamper, all need to be faithfully reproduced. There is no more a "generic" boat as a tree.
Because scenic stuff is something I don't do for money I can indulge myself and cut no corners. Here's a lock gate that I spent several evenings on. One of three (the bottom gate is a single on a narrow canal usually). It is for my Lantern Yard large diorama. I made brass patterns for the lock furniture, which is based on the Welsh and Mongomery canals. I got a chum to pop the masters in a mould for somebody else and then cast me just a few to make a set.
It's been around a while now and still doesn't have its brothers. A bit of paint chipped off, but that can be touched up. What matters is that this what a lock gate looks like. It's how they're made. The furniture is accurate, right down to the staggered tooth rack which winds the paddle up. Incipient rot in the arm end. The ratchet to stop the paddle dropping suddenly. This in 7mm scale.
This dinghy took about three days to make from pear veneer over a simple set of moulds like a real boat of this type would be built. Thin strips were soaked and bent in to the hull and oars made of bamboo, with copper shim wrapped round the blades. Completely matt paints give it a well used air.
But a boat needs a quay, a staithe, a berth.
Here's the simplest staithe. Made of pear wood strips and then made to look like it was repaired ad hoc.
The mess underneath is the high tide seaweed and general detritus.
Here's what you need for reference. I'm glad I took these up in Border country as I've just received a commission to do a canal cruiser and a lobster boat.
What sweet little coastal craft.
Just coastin', boy, just coastin'....