I’m still looking for varities of ships and boats to make into model kits. The dredger seemed interesting so I started with a basic hull, a shape I’ve now used many times and then added the dredger structure. The rotation was simply and the winch I’ve used before seemed to work but getting the bucket and the bucket arm to stay in place proved more difficult.
Above all I want the kit to be easy to assemble for a six year old and so any mechanism has to be as simple as possible. The kit also needs to fit onto four A5 sheets of 3mm plywood. Play value is also essential, my young testers check out this and other aspects of the design, especially it’s durability!
After some false starts I have used a living hinge and a cog arrangement on the bucket arm to rotate the bucket. The arm itself is also rotated with a similar cog winch but is held by a gravity pawl, giving just enough resistance.
This model will soon be available from Miller Toys and Models for just £18, 42 parts of press-out 3mm plywood, pva glue and string included.
Some time ago I designed a shadow theatre and then laser cut a couple of them. But the design meant that there was a lot of waste plywood after the cut, and more problematically the dismantled theatre was bulky and not postal friendly. So I didn’t try selling it, other projects took precedence.
Recently someone contacted CATO Press, where I’m a member to say she was interested in shadow theatre, so I thought I would dust off the old design and try again.
To have some impact and to accommodate puppets a shadow theatre needs to be quite large, my first attempt was rather small. This time I started with the central idea that the structure would be fully demountable and would flat-pack to 700mm x 200mm or less with a pack thickness of less than 50mm. I would include a cloth screen and if possible a lamp of some sort, LED lamps make this a practical proposition, even a torch with a wide angle beam should work.
With the Corvid 19 lockdown on-going it is not possible to make laser cut prototypes, so I’ve made one in 5mm construction board, ½ size. The final version would be 3mm plywood. The slot-together pieces are not all shown, no screen and no decoration. Screen would attach by velcro, scenery to hang from cross-bars which slot into the tops of the wings, for quick change.
In the distant past I made quite large shadow theatres decorated with dragons etc. from construction board, but of course they don’t have a long life, unless treated very carefully. I used these working with adults with learning difficulties (a privilage) and had plenty of fun. It was often surprising to see who could project themselves into the puppets, and who struggled.
Puppets can be bought and one or two sites provided designs for free, Adventures In A Box is one, and these may be cut by hand, or with a vinyl cutter or stencil cutter. Making the sort of fabulous designs seen in traditional Indonesian shadow theatre is certain to demand time and skill, but far simpler things can be quite effective.
I’ve been working on several new models and now that we have lockdown for the foreseable future – in the UK anyway – I’m spending even more time on these. I’m lucky enough to have a (dry) studio at home. But the laser cutting at Basically Wooden in lovely Devon has stopped for now.
Cato Press (of which I am a member) is closed but some plate making can be done at home, especially for collagraph which only needs card and paste, at it’s most basic. Great examples at the Collagraph World Wide Facebook page.
A trip through the rain to Basically Wooden in Devon to collect many laser-cut toy boats, ready for packaging and hopefully for some sales. Sue and Andrew at Basically Wooden design, laser-cut and assemble fine objects for the gaming world, and some other items. They have just made a new dice tower, really lovely. They use quite a lot of fine, detailed engraving, something I have avoided with these toys.
My toy/models have moving doors and a working winch. They are suitable for children over 3 (small parts), come with visual instructions, glue (not strictly necessary but makes a more permanent toy), and string for the winch. I am selling on Etse and ebay , £11.95 each including UK postage, add £3 for postage worldwide. Buy all five for £50, (plus £5 for shipping outside the UK).