|Harold commented that scale figures added interest to the model as well as helped the viewer visualize the size and proportions of the actual ship. His first idea was to use figures from scale plastic model kits but decided to try and carve the figures himself. Having extensive training in art but none in sculpture or wood carving the idea of the small figures were a new area to work in. Material was the next issue to consider. Wood didn’t seem to be a good choice because carving delicate features cross grain would break, nylon seemed a better choice. Procrastinating over locating block of nylon, Harold simply picked up a handy piece of Boxwood and it worked so well Harold never tried any other materials. A word of caution stated by Harold is any attempt to add figures to a model that are poorly executed would detract from a model rather than add to it, so its better to leave them off. Also some training in art or at least a natural ability to draw figures is very helpful.|
|While stationed in New Guinea with the Army Engineers in 1944 Harold made a set of engraving tools from a broken hack saw blade The steel used for these blades is quite hard and can be sharpened to a long lasting sharp edge. Handles of the tools are also a special design made to fit in the palm of your hand keeping the cutting edge close to your fingertips for absolute control of the cut. The solid, full-bodied handle coupled with the husky blade is necessary for accurate, positive control. To the far right is the skew chisel. While the broad blade seems large for the delicate carving the tool is used for 95% of the work. This type of blade is very versatile and can be used for chip carving and notching, the blade is also used in a lateral, shaving motion when carving fragile, cross grain sections. The width of the blade is used for scraping the final smoothing, while the tip is used for fine detail. When working on a carving the piece is held in a small vise. If the carving is not restrained from movement while being subjected to heavy cuts, the loss of control can be disastrous.|
|Once all the figures are carved the final step is
the paint the figures with a semi-gloss finish.
A method is to use the semi-gloss as a base and mix “Japan” colors to obtain the desired hues. On occasion a satin finish floor varnish is used as a base. The smallest available sable brushes are trimmed to obtain better control when painting the figures. Some figures used on name plates were left natural.
|Every Carving of a figure begins with a quick sketch to establish costume, general position, posture and relative proportions. Then the front and side views are redrawn on a block of Boxwood. The triangle on the top of the block is to locate the top of the hat. Details of the figures are not drawn but developed as the carving progresses. As can be seen from the pictorial sequence the carving is finished from one end of the block to the other. This is done because some sections become too delicate and are unable to sustain any but the lightest of cuts. We will follow the sequence of one figure on the right while using others figures to demonstrate various techniques. Carving begins with the head, at 1:48 scale a typical head has the overall dimensional proportions of .200 high and .070 wide. To begin, the head is roughed out, in this case it’s roughed out to the size of the hat. A razor saw can be used to cut away larger sections. The head and facial features are roughed in and finally refines to the finished head. With the head finished the figure is worked down from the shoulders to the feet. The process is blocking out the various sections.|
|First the piece is roughly blocked out then the torso
is rounded and the arms are finished to their final size. Details of the coat are now added to the carving. Preliminary roughing of the legs are now done, keeping an excess of material is a must at this point as you have to “feel” your way to the final shape. Note the original drawing on the block at this point is now gone and it becomes apparent why detailed drawings are not needed. Carving arms that project from the body the direction of the wood grain requires extreme care to avoid
breakage. Once the proportions and position is established, the arms are completed by working
gradually from the hand to the shoulder. Using the skew with a shaving saw like motion you can cut through cross grain with minimal force.