No, really! I'm as shocked as you are!
I've always had a connection with Kelvingrove through my Dad, and have many happy childhood memories of feeling privileged to be allowed into the stores in the basement where the general public didn't get to go, and to a certain degree I still feel that way, as I get to handle objects and specimens when I volunteer that most people don't even get to see.
For those that don't know, my Dad works for Glasgow Museums and has been working on the redisplay of one of Kelvingrove Museum's most popular spaces - the Life Gallery - for the last few months. Home to Sir Roger and Kelvin the elephants, a whole myriad of other animals and to top it off, a Spitfire looming overhead; it's always overrun with visitors, but due to health and safety regulations, the plane must be taken down every ten years to undergo a safety check on the wires holding it up. Taking it down was going to be a rather monumental task, and would require the gallery to be closed for weeks, so the decision was made to work a redisplay around it to avoid further disruption for the public.
This meant months and months of work for everyone, including me, as I spent most of my volunteering time cleaning specimens and helping Laurence with some repairs in addition to making new bases for some of them.
This Mongoose Lemur literally took weeks to clean, it was absolutely filthy.
The tail was the worst part - I spent several full days just cleaning that alone! Everything I clean now is automatically compared with the state of that one and 'it's dirty but not exactly lemur level' is a now standard phrase in the workshop.
|I nicknamed the creepy looking mandrill at the bottom here, Trump,|
owing to his aforementioned creepy face and freakishly tiny hands.
Anyway, I'll post more about them later, this particular post is about something considerably different!
A few months ago Dad asked me if I'd be willing to take on a slightly more ambitious project - a scale model for one of the displays!
The display was about the plight of the Albatross, and how a frankly terrifying number of them are killed each year by getting themselves tangled in fishing lines and drowning. One of the solutions to prevent this from happening is by using coloured streamers or 'tori lines' alongside the fishing line, which puts them off.
The idea was to have a model who showed this in cross section, with the boat and tori lines on the surface, along with the actual fishing lines and baited hooks below.
My initial thought of 'oh god, oh god, why did it have to be a boat?!' was soon overtaken with the more pressing practicalities of how to go about making it. The lines themselves would be easy, and I was told that the base would be provided by the museum so that only left the vessel itself.
What I know about boats could be reliably written on a postage stamp, so I had to do a fair bit of research. Luckily the designer wanted something stylised, so there was no need for much detail. After some googling, and a consultation with my former modelmaking tutors for advice, I found some plans for an Alpinist class trawler which seemed to fit the bill.
Using those as a template, I cut out the rough shape from tooling block on the bandsaw. I ended up having to do this twice as I'd accidentally put the top on back to front...well done me.
What felt like several days of sanding later...
I then did battle with CAD once again to design the upright bits (which I'm sure have some kind of marine technical name but to me were just 'the uprighty bits') and got them lasercut at the college, as my former tutors were kind enough to let me use the facilities.
Another little detail was added on at the back so I had somewhere to attach the fishing line to - like the upright bits it was made intentionally vague so it didn't get too complicated, as the brief was for the whole model to be as simplistic as possible.
The paint job was also pretty simple and the paint specifically chosen to match the metal of the display base the whole thing would be sitting on.
|That tiny pinhole was the bane of my existence for weeks - it just wouldn't disappear!|
I had to leave it for a good long while before I could really start on anything else, as the base hadn't been made yet and until that happened I couldn't take measurements and work out how long the lines had to be. The project ended up going over its original deadline too, so everything was pretty frantic towards the end and I finally got access to the base mere days before the gallery was to reopen.
The base was a thick piece of clear acrylic, with a really snazzy wave pattern printed on vinyl on top,. Unfortunately it had been accidentally and unfortunately permanently marked before I'd even got to lay eyes on it, but hopefully it won't be too noticeable in the case. The designer had taken measurements of my boat so the technicians could cut out a hole for it to slot into, but I only got to test the fit on the day of installation so there was a lot of worrying about whether things would fit or not - not to mention the fact that my model had to be the first thing installed in that case as once the albatross was in there, it would be virtually impossible to move!
So yeah, no pressure. XD
Luckily, it fitted in rather snugly, and I was able to set it up pretty quickly. It should probably sit a little lower in the water but I think it looks ok.
The tori lines were made from strong cotton thread with teased out strands of embroidery thread tied and then glued into place. I used some liquid starch once they were glued into place, to train them to lie as if they were being pulled behind and trailing in the water, but some of them were rebellious and there was nothing I could do to get them to behave. I'm obviously going to blame it on the powerful sea breezes at work.
The baited lines were made the same way, but with some liberties taken for the bait. They should be squid but due to the scale, they'd have been impossible to see so I enlarged and simplified them for clarity.
There was something rather amusing in putting this together whilst across from me, penguins were being passed around and attached to displays. XD
The floats were made from polymer clay, and held the lines taut really well.
|That pinhole never did go away. T.T|
This is a truly terrible photo but its the best one I have that shows the underwater lines.
|I will forever think of this as the real 'Boaty McBoatface' seeing as they aren't going to stand |
by the public's choice of name for the polar research vessel that's been in the news recently.
I had to leave it in the capable hands of the technicians to install it, as we were off on holiday the day before the reopening, so I haven't actually seen it in situ myself yet, though my dad and cousin have both been in and very kindly took some photos for me.
|It gets the cousin's thumbs up of approval.|
I've already had my own tiny brush with fame at KG as I had my photo on the official leaflet for the 'Claws' exhibition in 1997, all about cats. Our moggies at the time, Ben and Tilly - also made an appearance through a whole drawer full of birds and small rodents that Ben had caught over the years (and Dad had taken straight to the taxidermist, ahaha) and the tin of cat food that Tilly preferred. XD)
|Yes, I used to be blonde! My grin hasn't changed much though...|
Also check out that hairband - such fashion, very stylish.
I also forgot until I went in again recently that I'd granted the use of one of my photographs of a Sparrowhawk for a display - I had a moment of thinking 'hmm, that looks familiar I wonder why...oh, yeah, that's why, I took it' XD
But actually having some of my modelmaking work on display in 'my' museum makes me so ridiculously happy, it really is a dream come true.
(although I'd have really preferred it was something other than a boat, but beggars can't be choosers!)
Also, apparently this is my 200th post! Woot!