Tag Archives: updates

I know, I know…

I am sorry. There, I said it. I’m sorry I don’t have time to make copious posts here like I used to. Obviously, when I worked at a computer nearly all day it was easier to open a tab and pour forth. Now I am making models for a living I don’t have nearly as much computer time as I used to.

There’s also an awful lot I could be writing about. The political scene, the NHS, the world’s inexorable spin into death and destruction… There’s too much to be annoyed about, too much to offer my opinion about, and what good would it do anyway? Just another scream into the void.

It’s easy to be negative, and I try not to be as often as I can. Sometimes, though, looking around at the state of the world, one can’t help but wonder how we have let things get quite so bad.

I have had an idea for a couple of ranty historical posts about the recent rebirth of the Flying Scotsman, and celebrating an 80th anniversary of the Spitfire’s first flight but ignoring the Hurricane’s 80th last year. I may still work something up, but I’m only typing now because today is a fallow day for domestic and medical stuff to be done. Normally I’d be ankle-deep in metal filings by now!

So, I apologise for being quiet. I’ll try to make amends soon. Possibly.

Life goes on

Once again, I find the old blog has been neglected. Reasons for this are several: time, lack of; worthwhile, nothing to say that’s; way, life getting in the.

The workbench is busy. Having said that there isn’t much to actually show for it. Several client builds have reached an odd kind of stasis where there’s ongoing work but not much to see. The photo shows five part-built models, but doesn’t show four others I’ve started, or the growing pile of unstarted models! I’ve begun a process of building up some of my own models that have been in storage for some years, with the idea of using them to populate my table when I demonstrate at model exhibitions. You see, I’ve built some lovely models over the past few years but they don’t hang around once they’re completed, tending to go to their owners, so I can’t show them off to a wider public. Having a semi-permanent collection of various models will be useful, I think.

In other news, a general election has come and gone. After one of the dirtiest, fib-ridden and frankly far too long campaigns, the result, as you might expect, was not quite what I had hoped for. In fact, it took me rather badly—yes, even cynical old me—with the result that I’ve been trying very hard to not fall ill over it. I’m currently undergoing a battery of tests to see what might be wrong with me, but so far nothing has surfaced.

The election results have also prompted some serious discussions at Snaptophobic Towers about moving somewhere else. It seems neither Best Beloved nor myself hold out much hope of things improving round here. Of course, I could get off my backside and actually try and do something about it, but there’s that thing called “lack of time”. Well, it’s an excuse anyway.

On the up side, it’s encouraged us to do all the things round the house and garden that we’ve been putting off for so long, with a view to improving likely selling prospects. Even if we never sell up and move out, we’ve made where we live nicer.

Photography. Now, there’s a thing. I haven’t been out for a proper photo expedition for ages. The passion has simply wandered off, and is probably doing something more interesting without me. I very nearly decided to sell all the gear a while ago. I know. It shocked me, too. I need something to give me a kick up the arse and to encourage me to blow the dust off the gear, and to get out there to explore again.

So, here we are, half-way through 2015. This year is simply flying by, and if I’m not careful I might miss it!

Hardly any time to myself!

It’s good to be busy. I am still staggered by the amount of work that’s come my way in the past eighteen months or so. If there is a problem, it’s I barely find any time for myself any more!

BG Part 05 1

For a start, I’ve got several 7mm scale broad gauge coach models under way. This one is a passenger luggage van (PLV), and is nearing the point where I can begin to paint it. It was recently joined by a passenger coach, known as a “convertible” because it was a body designed for the narrower standard gauge but carried on a broad gauge underframe. When the big gauge swap took place, these coaches were brought into the works and the bodies swapped to the narrow underframes.

BG Part 05 2

It has reached the point where interior partitions and floor need to be fitted, and then it can also have the paintwork begun. While it’s in the paintshop I shall begin work on its underframe.

Last week, the client for this build sent me an email outlining his three year plan for building. I will be busy for a while yet!

Meanwhile, at the other end of the bench, a long-running saga with an etched brass Mk1 coach kit has taken a turn for the positive.

RMB Part 4 3

I got stuck with a problem fitting the roof. A workable solution has turned up, so I have begun work fitting out the interior. What’s not obvious here is the interior is a complete inner shell which fits inside the main bodywork. I’ve started to paint the inner shell, and most of the main fittings have been made up and painted. I just need to assemble the seating bays, and they can be primed and painted, ready to fit later.

RMB Part 4 1

Here’s the bar area of this coach—it’s coded as an RMB, Restaurant Miniature Buffet. The counter and bar dividers are posed here, while I work out whether I like the colour of the floor tiling.

As well as this pair of commissions, I have two 10001 diesel locos (for different clients!), a 2-8-0 Austerity steam loco, a lineside fuel depot… there are also commissions I have got that haven’t even made it to the workshop yet. I’ve had to work out a card index system to keep track of things, and some kind of schedule so that builds all make some progress rather than one being favoured to the detriment of the others.

It’s good to be busy.

I make models of things professionally. You can find out more at my web site, and find me on Facebook. I am always keen to take on new commissions, but bear in mind I am looking at the middle to end of 2015 for new works.

What does this switch do?

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The saga of our car woes has drawn to a close, with l’Atomo being somewhat ignominiously hauled away on the back of a breaker’s lorry. A new adventure begins, as our newly-adopted car insinuates itself into our lives. It still has to exhibit some personality traits before it receives a proper name, though. Right now, it’s just called “Car”.

I have never been able to afford a brand new car. I have been custodian of a brand new car, but that was leased by someone else and I had the use of it, so it’s not quite the same. I very nearly got a new car about a decade ago, but sadly or luckily, depending on your point of view, the deal fell through about the time the job I was in fell through.

So, while I have had the fun of specifying a new car, I’ve never had the fun of owning one. The “new” car we now own is six years old, and I suppose we paid about a quarter of its original purchase price to acquire it. It is the newest used car we’ve ever owned! It still has most of its original paperwork, including the all-important user manual.

Many knobs and dials in cars are self-explanatory. They form a standard part of our world, so you know what the symbol, and hence the function of the switch, means right away. I’m old enough and experienced enough to jump into the drivers’ seat and drive off without having to read the instructions first. There are some controls, though, which are new because it’s a new car—to me, at least.

Now, reading through the manual, you discover all kinds of fun toys. Then you discover your car doesn’t have some of those toys, because they are options decided before purchase. For example, we have air conditioning but not climate control. We have front and rear fog lights, but we don’t have the daylight running light option. We have an instrument panel display, but not the very clever one. We have a radio, but not the steering wheel controls. The radio, also, doesn’t connect with my phone by Bluetooth.

All these things I thought we might have, because the manual said so. I was aware the manual also appended an asterisk beside many features, which I worked out marked them as options. We have some options, but not others. On balance, I think the options we do have are the sensible ones, though I would appreciate the reversing sensors! Part of the fun of acquiring a “pre-enjoyed” vehicle is the journey of discovery as you work out what the original purchaser ticked on the specification list!

Now, all we need is to find “Car” a sensible name…

On the home straight

The Mark 1 coach build is nearing completion. As I type the sides have been given a top coat of varnish to seal the transfers in place and protect them and the paintwork from handling.

Placing the transfers has taken me a couple of days to complete. The chosen livery has two colours, and the demarcation between them has fine black and gold lining. The way the colours split means two parallel rows of lining on each side, so eight sets of lining to do in total for this build.

I used waterslide transfers from a company called Fox Transfers. If you’ve ever built an Airfix kit, you’ll know what I mean by “waterslide”. You trim out the transfer you want and immerse it in water for some seconds, and then it slides from the backing paper into place on the model. The caveat with Fox’s product is it really does like warm water, and the problem then becomes how to keep water at a suitable temperature over an extended period. My solution involves an aluminium baking tray and a tea light!

The lining transfers take time, because you can’t simply immerse an entire length and expect to slide it off in place. Tangles and tears are guaranteed, so the method I use is to trim the lining down to manageable lengths, no more than about 40mm, and place them carefully along the coach side. It takes longer, needs a deal of patience (and a powerful magnifying lamp in my case), but the results speak for themselves. This technique also works across door and panel joins, rather than trying to push the transfer down into the gaps.

Once the lining was done, it was time for the running numbers. Again, Fox Transfers came into their own. I used a fine brush to guide each individual number into place, before gently dabbing excess water away with a cotton bud.

IMG_7051

Thoughts are now turning to weathering the models. My client requested a “slightly tired” finish, so I’ve been studying as many photos as I can lay my hands on to get a feel for how mainline coaching stock weathered in service. This is also an excuse for legitimately lounging about with a hot mug of tea, perusing lots of books!

IMG_7052

 

The publication of choice is currently Martyn Welch’s The Art of Weathering, published by Wild Swan. An excellent primer in the various techniques and tools required to achieve a realistic finish to scale models.

Currently, I am considering weathering the sides before I finally assemble the models. I can do the same for the roofs, ends and underframes. Once assembled, a unifying dusting can be applied if required.

I hope to document the process, so watch out for further posts.

I am a professional model-maker. I make models of all kinds, at all scales, and to all requirements. I currently have three more 7mm scale coaches and a 7mm scale locomotive in the queue for my workbench. Have a look at what I do over at my web site. You can also find me on Facebook: search for Heather Kay Modelmaker.

Catching up

Wow! It’s been a while since my last couple of posts. Apologies if you’re a regular visitor and missed my ramblings.

Let’s see, what’s been happening?

I decided to kill off the Invicta Shutterbugs photowalks. After a strong start, and support from some regular walkers, things had begun to tail off during the summer. I contrived to miss the September walk, having double-booked another event, and when it came to organising the October one my enthusiasm was spectacularly absent. I just couldn’t pull together enough keenness to sort out times, parking, things to see and so on, so I decided to kill things there and then. This doesn’t mean there won’t be any further walks. It just means any that happen will be less formal and more likely to occur on the spur of the moment.

My little car had been having a few problems. I’d had a new fuel tank fitted, but there were some teething problems with a persistent smell of petrol when cornering. We’d been all over things to diagnose the problem, and couldn’t locate it. We decided to wait until we could book the car into a garage with a ramp so the tank could be dropped out and checked over properly. While we waited, the exhaust pipe decided to part company. As the car would have to be up in the air for that to be fixed, we asked the garage to see if they could also fix the tank. Happily, they did—at the second attempt! I’ve now got a little red car that doesn’t smell of petrol all the time, and has a shiny new exhaust!

I’ve had fun and games with the pooter hardware again. I use a couple of drives to store original RAW images from shoots. Both drives are identical in content, so there’s a simple form of redundancy if one decides to crap out. Which it did. I thought it might be the enclosure, so I acquired a USB3 dock system, and it turns out the drive itself is buggered. I had to shell out for a large external drive so I could back up the backup again, as well as provide sufficient space for vault archives of my Aperture stuff. This never used to a problem in film days: everything got stuffed in a box and put on the top of the wardrobe! Anyway, the backup system has settled down again—for now. Let’s not even begin to think about migrating to the newest version of the Mac OS. Apparently, it eats Western Digital data for lunch, so I’m holding off until WD sort themselves out and get a software update out. I believe the WD hardware is supported by the OS without the WD software, but I got a bit scared and decided to hold off for now. While I don’t get all the new shiny, and I’m missing out on some new software updates, I can be patient until my data is safe.

I’ve been busy modelling. I’ve made a concerted effort to make it a proper Monday to Friday, 9 to 5 job, although that doesn’t stop me working on into the evenings and weekends as the mood takes me. As of now, the two Mark One coaches are nearing completion, and the client has paid their second instalment. I’ve got another build to get through, being a couple of etched brass coaches I need to finish and paint, then I have a steam loco and another coach to come. Things are looking quite interesting for quite some time into 2014, which is great. I will need to look at publicising things a bit more in the new year, and I’m considering a reworking of the web site.

I’ve been paid by my last “official” Imagic Design client, so I am looking to wind up operations there at the end of the year. The last job was a web site, which I will hand off to a friend and colleague who is happy to take it on into the future. I am glad to see the back of the design world, to be honest. It’s not been fun for over five years, and I won’t really miss it.

With my new-found wealth, I decided to splurge on a couple of photography items I’ve had my eye on for more than a couple of years. I’ve finally ordered a 17–50mm ƒ/2.8 lens and a battery grip for the EOS 7D. It seemed a hell of a lot of cash when I added it all up, but then I’ve been waiting for so long to get these items, and I had the money in the bank, so why not treat myself? I’ve been so patient for such a long time it was hard to spend such a large amounts of dosh without feeling very guilty, which I suppose is a good thing in a way. That’s about it for my large photographic expenses, so any more earnings go back into the modelling business. Other items I may want tend not to be in the three figure price bracket.

Well, that’s caught up with most things so far here at Snaptophobic Towers. I’ll share some images over a couple of posts, just to liven things up a bit.

At the year’s end

changing

This time of year seems to be one for reviewing the past twelve months, and looking into the twelve to come. I find myself sitting here on Christmas Day, feeling very much at a loose end for numerous reasons, so introspection comes easily to me. I’m not going to bother to look outside my own sphere, as there are plenty of outlets for that kind of depressing stuff as it is.

I do have family, but we rarely get together for Christmas these days. It’s not because we can’t, it’s more we don’t really need to added to the fact we’re scattered around the country. We see each other fairly regularly, and we chat on the phone, or by email, so we keep up with each other. Christmas is a time for family, but it’s also a time for children—since we don’t have any littluns in the immediate family, there’s no real joy in it: just a bunch of middle aged and elderly folk eating and drinking themselves into a stupor in front of some rubbish television programmes. Christmas 2012 is just me, Best Beloved, our moggies, and a friend who is popping in for lunch.

While, for me, 2012 didn’t turn out quite so badly as it might have, it could have been better. I’ve been job-hunting for ages, and I even managed to score a few interviews over the year—which was more positive. None of them ended with me scoring the job, though. At least I was getting interviews, but I was obviously too good for them. That’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it. I think 2013 will see me applying for jobs that don’t require the skills I actually have. Such is life.

Between job-hunting I tried to keep my head above water without resorting to claiming benefits. The freelance world turned up one or two little jobs, which helped the bottom line, but it’s fair to say my heart really isn’t in it any more. It does rather look like I will throw in the towel in the new year, and sign on. I’ve not “signed on” since 1981. It feels like admitting defeat, which I suppose it is.

On the photographic side, I’ve had some fun. I got off my arse and organised a local photowalk group. Still in its infancy, I want to get things moving properly in the new year. I’m happy to say I’ve made some new friends through it, but I am finding the whole process a little daunting. I suppose I really want someone else to offer to help, so I had better ask them!

There still has not been any progress on the “model photography as a job” front. I had some images published earlier in the year, and I was commissioned by the ScaleSeven Group committee and newsletter editor to photograph a layout. It’s still a hard world to break into, for some reason, and it’s very annoying.

I’ve always wanted to go on a photography workshop, and the chance popped up today. Chris Marquardt, of the Tips From The Top Floor podcast, has organised two UK workshops for the late summer in 2013. I was keen to try and attend the one nearest me, in Farnborough, Hampshire. Sadly, the price is beyond my means. I am very unhappy about this, and it’s rather put the mockers on the rest of my day.

I have some more commissioned models to make, and I hope that I may be able to get a little more trade in that direction. It’s pitching things at the right prices, and getting my name out there. There are lots of others out there doing the same thing, so I need to find my niche. That is going to be hard.

So, 2012 was a bit hit and miss, and it rather looks like 2013 will start out the same. They say life is what you make it, so I guess I’d better really get myself organised and make something of my life, before it’s too late!

I don’t make resolutions, as such. As I tend to begin a new year with good intentions, only to be knocked down at almost every turn, there seems little point resolving to do something that ends up unattainable. I’d like to lose weight, I ought to get out on my bike more regularly, I should tidy the house and finish all those unfinished projects, but that’s as far as I will go with my good intentions. I know full well that most of those I have listed will probably never happen.

I’d better go and make myself sociable with our lunch guest, even though I am really not in the mood. A very merry Christmas and best wishes for the year to come from Snaptophobic Towers!

Mmm, shiny

By turns, smooth and bumpy. That’s how I describe setting up this new home for Snaptophobic. I think Posterous, in their efforts to make blogging as painless as possible, hid the slightly more techy things a bit too far down.

I’m geeky by nature, but sometimes I will rather run away from code than try to work out how to do something—even if it is really simple. So far, I have spent way too long trying to work out how to post an update to my Twitter feed from here, something that was a one-click affair at the other place.

Anyway, enough complaining. Treat this as a test of a couple of things to see if they work as I want. Normal—whatever “normal” is—service will be resumed shortly.

PS Medway Queen updates

August Update

Posted in Shipyard Blog

A lot has happened this August, the ship is coming along nicely, and is continually making better progress.

At Bristol, the engine room has been shot blasted and painted, and the main Cylinder block, the Condenser, the Edwards air pump, the Hotwell tank and all A frames and connecting rods that connect to Cylinder block to the A frames where the slide valves are located. The smaller machinery and small tanks have already been installed prior to the shot blasting of the Engine Room.

There was a little flurry of activity on Twitter earlier from the Medway Queen Preservation Society’s feed. They’re getting excited because the restoration is steaming along nicely. I think they’re hoping to get the restored hull back from the dry dock in Bristol very soon, so that refitting can be undertaken at the Gillingham Dock base.

I hope I will be able to get out and see the Queen come back to her home port. The story of her salvage and restoration has been long, sometimes painful, but uplifting at the same time.

Visit the Medway Queen Preservation Society web site for updates on the paddle steamer’s progress.

Related: “One of the Small Ships” / “EU funding threatens Medway Queen restoration”

A bit quiet

Hello. I am still here. I haven’t been anywhere particularly thrilling, or done anything massivley amazing. 

Even so, I have decided to get things moving with a local photo walk thing I’ve been mulling. I spread the word on Google+ and I have been blown away by the support. Okay, it’s not going to be dozens of people, but I am happy if we reach a manageable ten or so. 

I have been trying to learn to code HTML and CSS, with reasonable success. I’m not doing it because I enjoy it, more so I have a much better handle on what other tools I use for web design are trying to do. I would like to create a whole web site from scratch using the techniques I have been learning, but I don’t think that’s going to happen for a while. It’s too easy to fall back on the tried and tested software to do it for me.

Since my DSLR can record HD video, I have been learning more about how to get the best out of it. There’s plenty on the interwebz specifically aimed at the Canon EOS 7D, so I now have a pretty good idea what the machine is capable of, and what all the different buttons are supposed to do! I really want to make another short film, but I don’t have a good idea for a storyboard yet. 

So, while I haven’t been posting all and sundry here, I have actually been trying to improve my knowledge and understanding on various subjects. If there’s one thing I love, it’s being an autodidact.