|Returning slowly, but in style...|
Remember me? Good grief! I thought I'd take a short break from all this blogging stuff and I'll be damned if it didn't turn into three years!
First of all, let me thank everyone who sent emails and inquiries over the last couple of years regarding my whereabouts, health, etc., or expressing their wishes that I should continue with my creations and this blog. I hope my latest piece will satisfy you all!
"Oh, get on with it, Colonel," I hear you cry...
Just like most VSF/Steampunk enthusiasts, I had often toyed with ideas for an airship of some description, but it was always just another idea on the list until a friend commissioned me to make one for him. "Rivets and stuff?" I mused, "For money? Good Lord!"
So dusted off the old tools, replaced all the paints that had turned to plastic in their pots, and got on with creating.
|Two steel light shades provide the main structure.|
The first question I had to address was how to make the balloon - how big, how to get the right shape, and also because I'm incapable of keeping my mouth shut if an idea is trying to get out, I'd suggested that, "Wouldn't it be great if I built lighting into it too...?"
|Plastic board completes the shape, while a nice chunky computer fan adds a rear propeller.|
|Low voltage wires are installed to hang the model from, as well as providing power to hidden LED strips. A broken LED lamp and a golf tee become the nose cone.|
I looked at various options and finally settled on two light shades joined together, exactly how I had created the rocket ship in my last post. However, this combination alone wasn't quite right as it didn't really allow for large cabins/gondolas, etc., so I added a collar of plastic board in between them. A big fat computer fan (no, not Nigel...) was added as a propeller. The base of a broken LED lamp became the nose cone.
|Side gantries are constructed.|
Now it was time to add the interesting bits.
I started with the side gantries, which I constructed from plastic board. The wood work was textured using heavy sandpaper, then planks were defined by scoring/scraping with a knife held at 90° to a straight-edge. Ping-pong balls were cut and poked through holes in the end panels to create domes, and finally the port-holes were made from disposable contact lens cases.
|Let there be light!|
|The basic structure complete and card bands glued on. As you can see, light is still getting through in some areas at this stage.|
Oh, well. It's a learning curve, innit?
The answer was to line everything with black card. Or, in the case of the bits I hadn't built yet, to make them from card first, then finish them with plastic. Windows were made from acetate sheet, frosted by sanding it with very fine sandpaper.
|Rivets! Rivets, I tell you! Hahahahahaa!|
After that, the rest of the construction was fairly straightforward - and it wasn't long before I was gluing on rivets! Just like old times...
|A bridge provides a nerve-wracking means of moving between the fore- and aft- gondolas...|
|The model starts to look nice and solid with the generous application of rivets...|
|Somewhat comically small wings provide a means of steering the vessel.|
|A bottle cap adds an extra touch to the rear propeller.|
Needless to say, this took some time... Until, finally, I was ready to start painting the bugger!
I didn't want to use dark, heavy colours for this one, and I knew I wanted lots of copper. So I started with a brown undercoat everywhere, then applied base colours for wood, copper, steel and canvas.
|Base colours go on. I'm not bothered about tidiness at this stage. Everything can be fixed later and windows will be scraped clean.|
|Wood tones were finished first.|
|Copper is tidied up, the windows are scraped clean, and the model starts to look finished!|
I admit, I started to get a bit excited at this point, as it really started coming together. I was particularly pleased with the wood tone.
|Once the painting is done, handrails are added to the bridge...|
|...and the rear balcony.|
|Grey and silver highlighting gives a nice feeling of weight to the engine block.|
Once all the colours were on and mistakes corrected, I finished off the woodwork by washing with dark brown ink, then highlighting with an almost fleshy sand tone. The copper paint was generously daubed with chestnut ink. This was messy, thank to the rounded shape of the balloon - every stray drop ran for miles! Consequently, the canvas had to be painted and repainted until it was nice and white.
|Nose cone detail.|
Very interestingly, the constant painting, repainting and highlighting of the canvas actually resulted in a rough canvas-like finish! An accident? Or sheer genius? Hmmm... Probably the former!
And all of a sudden, there it was! Done!
Rivet count on this fine fellow..
|Light through the small windows in the cabin doors nicely illuminates the bridge.|
|The rear balcony.|
|Wish I owned one of these...|
|Sailing away to new adventures...|
I hope you've enjoyed this post! I'll try to bring you more in the not-too-distant future!
All the Best!