Slept unusually late (6:40 my gosh) so felt a little rushed. Still, ordered breakfast for 8:30, then was at the gym about 7:50, did 2 and a half rounds of exercises, and picked up the breakfast tray at 8:30.
Today is the writers group at 10:45 with a cue of “describe your covid amusements”. Between 9 and 10:15 I wrote a tasty little essay on the challenges of building model car kits, so I had something amusing to read. Got a few laughs.
At 12:30 drove to FOPAL (I had not ordered a lunch as the menu didn’t look good). Found 8 boxes of books waiting for me. Took 2:15 to process and shelve. Bought a protein bar at the store and some drinks, and came on home.
At 6 I picked up my supper tray and just as I was about to sit down, my eye was caught by an orange glow on the eastern horizon. The full moon (well, it was full yesterday), apparently called the Wolf Moon because it is the first of the year, was just rising in some clouds and behind a tree. Oooh I said, picture. Got the camera, put it on the tripod, made a bunch of pixels. Putting two different exposures together gets this.
This is what I hastily wrote, titled “the box in the closet”. This was the first time I’d thought of Richard McMullin in several decades.
The box sits in my closet, glowering at me. Challenging me. Daring me.
Truth told, to the best of my memory I did not build model cars in my youth. That was the hobby of my best friend Richard, and I remember sitting in his bedroom — discussing our schoolmates, our parents, and the world in general with world-weary cynicism out of our shared basis of near-complete ignorance — while Richard assembled small parts. So I knew how the kits went together but didn’t attempt it myself, then. Partly because I knew from Richard’s littered desk how many tools and bottles of paint you needed, and I didn’t want to spend the money; also probably because I could compare my pudgy, clumsy fingers to Richard’s small, dexterous hands, and could tell how things would go.
But, sixty years on, with Covid isolation I found myself craving something tangible to do. Programming, which is a lot like sculpting clay except the clay is invisible and never hardens, was a possibility, and I started learning a programming language new to me, but I couldn’t come up with a project I wanted to build. Somehow I remembered model cars.
For those who’ve not done one, these models are amazingly detailed. Often they have more than 100 parts. The parts are injection-molded in plastic, a process that preserves the finest detail of the original master mold, so a plastic dashboard the length of your finger will bear clearly-visible embossed knobs and grills and instruments with tiny tiny pointers. Of course that dashboard is molded in off-white plastic; it is up to the model maker to paint it in realistic colors, carefully studying reference photos from the web to know whether this flea-sized feature should be chrome or body-color or what, and then putting the color on with a very small brush.
Since mid-2020 I’ve finished four models, and truly the worst problems I’ve had have been with the exterior finish. Real cars have glass-smooth paint jobs with no color variation. No blotches, no thin spots, no runs. You can’t get that with a brush, or at least, I can’t, and I tried, a lot.
So I bought an air-brush tool and began spraying the bodies. The air brush brought its own problems, like “fish eyes”. A fish eye is a spot in a sprayed coat of paint where the wet paint, for absolutely no reason, draws back in horror from something microscopic and leaves an unpainted crater in the wet film. If not the gaps of fish eye,s there’s the appearance of tiny motes of dust stuck in the wet paint, which on a 1/25 scale model, are the size of gravel.
When dust or a fish eye appears while you are spraying, you are, um, stymied. You have to let the paint harden, then sand the area to make it all level and smooth (otherwise the defect would show through subsequent coats) and spray again. More than once I have held a body shell over the sink and with alcohol wipes scrubbed off multiple coats of paint back to the original plastic and started over.
Which brings me to the box in the closet. It’s a 1/16th scale, 1957 Ford Thunderbird. Most kits are designed at 1/24th scale, so one inch of model covers 2 feet of the real car. I’ve built one other 1/16th scale car, and it came out OK, but my gosh it was a lot of work. The T-Bird wants to be built, and it knows it could be magnificent when complete, and I am afraid to start it.