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Thursday, October 13, 2011

The 41st Waterfowl Festival, Easton, Maryland, November 11th - 13th, 2011.

We do a lot of shows during the year, generally around a dozen, or so. Shows that we've done cover many parts of the U.S: East to West, from the Chesapeake Bay to Lake Tahoe and North to South from Upstate New York to Florida and many places in between. We've even been invited to shows in Scandinavia, Germany, England and Australia. Such invitations make us go "Wow!", but doing them has not been feasible, as of yet.

We've learned a lot of things on the "show circuit". Such trivia as that there are more boats registered in the state of Michigan than in any other state. Which state did you think it was? We've also learned where Thousand Islands Dressing was invented and a lot of places where excellent Barbecue can be found. One of the things that we like to do, whenever we're a ways from home, is to take a visit to the local supermarket. We like to eat and every place has its own specialties. Moon Pies in the South; River Rat Cheese in the North, etc..

Being in the "Boating Industry", we are particularly aware of seafood centers. We came from Boston, home of the best seafood in the world, to, The Chesapeake Bay, home of the best seafood in the world. We like to visit San Francisco, home of the best seafood in the world, The Gulf Coast, home of the best seafood in the world, Callabash, N.C., certainly home of the best seafood in the world and The Pacific Northwest Coast, home of the best seafood in the world, especially smoked sturgeon... Every one of these places has the best seafood. They really do, period.

Best, but different. Each one has its array of signature dishes and I love them all. The shows that we go to are different and "the best" in a similar way. Our next show "The Waterfowl Festival" is in Easton, Maryland. My understanding is that it started strictly as a "decoy show", with just bird carvers. It's grown in its forty one year lifespan into one of the most respected wildlife art shows in the country and, indeed, it draws artists from all over the globe. Among the arts are paintings, bronze sculptures and the highest forms of the art of carving birds. This is a vast under-representation of what you'll find.

In fact, this show has grown into many interesting venues throughout the city of Easton and also attracts spectators from around the world. As always, we will be at the show with our models in the Artist's Emporium (normally the Easton Middle School). There, you will also find several great bird carvers; metal sculpture wizard, Paul Lockhart; Courtney Design, creators of amazing wildlife jewelry; Donnie Thornton, famous Chincoteague feather painter and several other great artists and artisans, as well as some suppliers of special tools and supplies for carving and other related arts.

Although we've been doing this show for years, this is the first time that we will have our book "Fundamentals of Model Boat Building" with us. It was a four year project. You'll understand why when you get to see it.

We've really come to enjoy spending time with our friends from Schiffer Publishing Ltd. at recent book signings in Baltimore, Solomon's Island and Oxford and I think that we're going to miss them as we return to our traditional model display. It was certainly nice to have someone else set everything up and to be able to just "show up". We will have our full array of models, our photos, our mini workbench and our computer with us in Easton. Please be sure to come see us.

Even though we won't be sharing a booth, Schiffer Publishing will also be at The Waterfowl Festival at a different location. We can't tell you exactly where yet, but we will keep you posted. If you are a connoisseur of the carving arts, you may be familiar with books by William Veasey, Tom Wolfe or Steve Rogers. They are all Schiffer authors and just a small representation of a great publishing house. If you are a connoisseur of reading, you will find something that you'll love with over 4,500 interesting titles available on all kinds of subjects.

The 41st Waterfowl Festival is being held on Friday, November 11th, through Sunday, November 13th, in locations throughout the city of Easton, Maryland. Check their website for more information:

Monday, October 10, 2011

One Author's Opinion...

The conventional "minds-eye" image of the life of an author could be that of someone sitting on the porch of their Malibu beachfront cottage, jotting down words as they come to mind, avoiding calls from the late night talk shows, without a care about anything but the plot of their book and the daily glance at the New York Times ratings of the last book... ...the life-threatening intrusion of "writer's block"... ...the miraculous insight that leads to a night of furious typing to create a 400 page novel that immediately hits #1!... rights!... ...Broadway!...

Nice fiction...

Over the years, I've known a number of authors; some in my family, who've been "up there", so to speak. I can now say, with great pride, that I am an author, too. With that pride also comes a certain humility that I am among many, many, whose works are far more important in people's lives than mine. Still, I know that I worked honestly, carefully, and very hard to make something that I hope lasts longer than I do, understanding that once I let it go I have very little control over its future.

It hasn't taken long to learn that we live in a time that threatens the existence of authors and other artist's, especially musicians, because our technology is growing at a rate far greater than our ability to control, or even understand, what the effects of it can be. It's already been decades since musicians and music writers started losing livelihoods due to cassette and then CD reproductions of materials that were sold openly on the street.

More recently, almost every household has scanning and/or digital photography equipment. While it may not seem like the same thing as counterfeiting currency, the ease of which anything on paper can be copied has resulted in a world-wide market of pirated books. In an era of unprecedented material acqusition, as well as personal debt, the idea that you could acquire a book that you've always wanted to read for a very low price or even for free, is very compelling. It's sadly amazing to see what is offered.

That concept should be balanced with an understanding of what would never have been, if authors didn't get paid to do their jobs and if publishers tried to print books strictly out of their own pockets. I can't imagine and I am not sure if anyone else could.

You can counter this with the rationale that we are living in a new world. There are certainly benefits to the new technologies. I'm sure that I have a lot of advantages over my grandfather, who typed on manual typerwriters, due to word processing programs and spread-sheets. This new world type of thinking has also led to a new way of doing business that has been developing in recent years...

In more recent times, extremely large, multi-faceted corporations have developed with goal of marketing virtually anything that exists. This means that they have, within their corporations, companies that make product A, companies that make product B, companie that make product C, etc., etc.. This gives these large corporations unimaginable resources and leverage.

If such a corporation wants dominance in product B, for example, they can give product B away to customers for free, Company B operating at what, for other companies, would be a severe loss, the other various companies within the large corporation providing the capital to keep Company B going indefinitely. Other companies that make product B, starting with the smallest, go out of business until the large corporation largely, if not totally, dominates the market for product B and then can raise prices to whatever they want, now being "the only game in town". That "town" just happens to be known as the planet "Earth".

This same leverage can be used to force other companies, whose function they may not be so interested in replacing, to operate under unfair terms.

As an author, who relies on the fair selling of the books that I write, I would simply like to be paid for the years of research required, the writing that kept me up late many nights and as a token of the enjoyment that I hope that you are getting from the book that you reading. As someone with a small, but developing sense of what is involved in bringing a book to fruition after the author has submitted their manuscript, I would like to believe that my editors, book designers, marketing staff, warehouse workers and everyone else, that I've seen work very hard, get fairly treated for what they do.

It is not acceptable to simply copy someone else's work for free. Please look carefully at the "bargain" that is in front of you to be sure that it is a legitimate copy. If it's a good deal, I'm all for it. I want you to ready my book, after all. If it's not legitimate, please think about what's behind that "bargain".

I'd like to commend Peter Schiffer for his work in trying to help authors.
See this link:
I hope that others will follow suit...

Friday, October 7, 2011

One model-maker's opinion...

Model makers are one heck of a competitive group of people. It's a good thing - it makes the art better and better. Good model makers always want to get to that "next level". It's not unlike other arts or music. I love to see what others do and sometimes I'm blown away. Take for example, functioning miniature V-8 engines, or huge R/C 747s, or some of the Gibbs & Cox ship models from the 40's (let's not forget August Crabtree). I used to make more R/C boats professionally, but true R/C afficianados want to be able to claim credit for the performance of their model themselves.

Sometimes there are aspects to our competitiveness that have to be watched. Often a model-maker looks at what another model-maker has in front of them and unconsciously assumes that they are seeing that model-maker's best work. This is how we reassure ourselves of our abilities and is natural.

Unfortunately, such comparisons may be flawed...

You will never, ever, see our best works, unless you are our customer, or the work is on display in public. Why? We can't risk traveling with works that are either too fine, or at a stage of construction where the details are too delicate. Dealing with preparations for shipping is scary enough.

When you make models for a living, there is an "economics" to the work. Some models cost hundreds of dollars while others cost tens, even hundred, of thousands of dollars. It's self-explanatory; the amounts of time, effort and quality of materials differ at each end of the spectrum.

You may be familiar with intricate models made from pieces of bone or toothpicks by someone imprisoned for decades. With nothing else to do for 20 years, it was probably therapeutic and the only thing to do. I can't imagine... Occasionally we run into someone that has been working on a single model for over 20 years. It's not the same situation, but what they have is usually wonderful.

We've got to be careful about our comparisons. Often times between apples and oranges. We look at someone else's great work and become depresssed. Why?  Model-making is about learning and getting better. If it is that great, learn from it. Bear in mind that your own work may be better than you realize.

Much worse is to make an assumption of  another model-maker's capabilities in order to measure your own.

I will say it again, "you cannot know what you don't know". This means that while you've got your chest out about your great skills, someone will come along and "blow you away", because you weren't paying attention.

All model makers are different in some way, shape or form. I seriously  doubt that August Crabtree could have built a functional V-8 engine and the converse for the engine modeler. They are/were both great model-makers. I think that they would both have respected each other's work, knowing the differences.

Your most important competition is with yourself. Work on learning more. Judge yourself fairly. Make models that you like and in the way that you believe they should be made. You will probably change your beliefs every now and then, but if you keep growing, you'll be contributing to the world of model-making.

"Always sign your work. It's very sad to see a great model with no way of knowing who made it."

Thursday, October 6, 2011

A really good way to spend the morning...

Readers of our book will certainly be able to relate. We had a great morning, today, helping to change the Annie Buck's summer configuration to her winter configuration. It starts with a ride to the public wharf, where there is enough space to maneuver. The ride, on a perfectly cloudless day, with temperatures at right about 70F, was gorgeous. The trees are just starting to get color now. Just enough to add highlights to the woods behind the marshes.

The process is much like an old barn-raising and although it involves a lot of heavy lifting and potential injury, I look forward to it every year. Five of us disconnected and lifted the summer canopy  (PP. 77, figure 12 in "Fundamentals...") from its supports and onto a trailer, where it was driven to its winter storage place where we placed it for safe keeping. I don't know how much it weighs, but it's certainly in the hundreds of pounds, if not a half-ton, or so. We went to the wharf in the shade, but when we were done removing the canopy, the Annie Buck's cockpit was wide open and full of light. It makes her a whole different boat.

That was the first half, and actually the easier part, of the process. We then had another beautiful boat ride to another local dock where her mast and boom were stored. The mast and boom are required in oystering when dredging or patent tonging (pp. 76  figure 15). The mast is made of iron and it's a good thing that most of the guys lifting are watermen - they are extremely strong from the work that they do. Getting a long mast (25'?) onto a boat when you have to carry it on a narrow dock (3') can get you knocked into the water very suddenly. Once the mast is aboard the boat, it must be mounted to a support plank, then made upright and then secured with wire rope and turnbuckles. The various lines that hold the mast in place have to be tensioned exactly right, the consequences potentially being life threatening. The boom's installation must wait until the mast is ready. Otherwise there would be no place to install it and it would just be in the way. The boom is mainly aluminum, but also hundreds of pounds and long. Still, carrying it is much more pleasant than carrying the mast was.

I'm always amazed at how these guys work together, all of them knowing exactly what needs to be done, because they all have the same kinds of boats and after the Annie Buck is squared away, the group will move on to convert the other boats. David has a lot more work to do before he can work with his rig. There are all sorts of lines to inspect/fix/rig. He has to hook up various hydraulic lines and other elements of the system. He'll need to install his culling board. He is gearing up for the work of winter. That means making sure that his engine and everything else important to running the boat is in perfect shape.

Nobody could do this work alone. It's an honor to participate, knowing that my contribution to the effort is minimal, but I always learn things and the rides on the Annie Buck, to me, are worth every bit of it. I look forward to reversing the process in the Spring...

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

What is our book really about?????

"Fundamentals.." is an intriguing romance between plank and frame, the steamy cherry bending to her master's wishes. Meet the curvaceous "Annie Buck" and learn the story of how she got to be the way she is. Watch out for the "slicers" and the "whittler", see what the protaganist learns in the bedroom, We can't tell you the finish, but sometimes it involves a good shellacking...

See what the critics are saying:
Fine Woodworking calls it: "intense". Good Old Boat says:"My learning curve would have been much less steep if Fundamentals of Model Boat Building had been available." James J. B. says: "provides great insight". Chris P. says: "A great resource for anyone". Lisa F. says: "Remarkable detail." Gail G. H. says: "I highly recommend this book."

Come meet us at The Calvert Marine Museum in Solomons, Maryland on October 8th and 9th, 2011 and get your own personally autographed copy.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

What do authors of model boat building books like to read???

In addition to Gene Johnson, Edwin Leaf, Steve Rogers and other model making greats, I like to read Goethe, Dostoyevski, Freud, Hesse, Priestly, Camus, Cerf, Tolstoy, Epictitus, and just about any other author whose descriptions are as of things are as powerful in one's mind as to make them real, in the same way that a model is meant to convey something that is real.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Just what do we mean by "Fundamentals"?

When you write a book and begin the title with the word "Fundamentals", there is a certain implication. Let me put it simply: Our book teaches you what you need to know to choose a subject boat and make a model of it. It teaches the things you need to become a model maker. It also contains a wealth of useful information for veteran model makers. Here is where you can find out more

The Lightship "Chesapeake"...

It's always nice when someone posts photos of your work on the web, especially when they have expertise about the boat in question. This is a model of a lightship that we did back in the mid - 90's. The research involved taught me a lot about  the history and work of lightships in the United States over the last few centuries. These ships were used, not only in coastal waters, but within the Great Lakes. Almost every lightship station had a succession of different vessels as technologies improved. Lightships were different from each other and varied in size. Prior to being the "Chesapeake", this lightship was the "Fenwick". If I recall correctly, it came off of the ways in Charleston, S.C. in 1928. It's sister ship, LV117, on station as the "Nantucket", sunk when the "Olympic", sister ship to the "Titanic" hit her on a foggy day in 1934, killing several crew. It was dangerous and, as I understand it, very boring work. All of the lightships have been replaced now by "Super Buoys".

Some thoughts...

You can see that we like to write... I like learning. Model making is interesting because there is always something new to learn. There are many great model makers in the world. Most are self-taught. We are, as well, but I was lucky to have had a great-uncle whose models were incredible to learn from. My father was an engineer and his interest in miniatures helped to foster mine. I have always liked to see things in miniature. Not only boats... In fact, my first love, in model making, was with airplanes. There is something about being able to hold something in your hand that looks exactly like something very large. Perhaps it's some type of power trip. I don't know, but I have always loved miniatures of all types, from doll-house furniture to working model engines. We shared a table with a gentleman named Fred Lagnos recently during a book-signing. I know that he knows what I'm talking about. What he does is to take model train setups and with his great knowledge of light and photography he creates photos of them that look absolutely real. You might want to check out his book "Changes: A Model Railroad Comes To Life"

Let's start our new Blog...

Permit us to introduce ourselves... We are Model Boats by John Into & Nancy Price.
We may be new to the idea of blogging, but we are not new to making model boats. I have been doing it for 50 years. Nancy for 18. We've made well over 300 models of all kinds. We've also written a serious book about how to make models entitled "Fundamentals of Model Boat Building". You can see photos of our models and information about our book at

It's an unusual way to make a living and it's given us opportunities to meet and work with all sorts of people of a variety of backgrounds. We've also had opportunities to see and make models of some very interesting boats.

We would like to hear from anyone that is interested in boats, models, things in miniature, or anything else that might come to mind...

You can also find us on Facebook at