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Made lots of progress on the sail, on a cold blustery rainy day that feels very appropriate for this Irish-Norse ship. Here's a step-by-step of what I decided to do.


I cut paper panels to represent bolts of sailcloth, making these wide enough to allow for overlap (I decided to mimic the "lapped fell seam" in the link Steven shared above):




I then colored each strip yellow or red using pastels rubbed in with my fingers. Do each color on its own and don't mix them, or you'll get all orange panels!






The sail is taller than an individual sheet of paper, so I cut the bolts to join under one of the reinforced reefing lines so the seam would be hidden.




I marked an overlap at the end of each bolt, gently applied wood glue, then pressed the joint together:




Completed yellow and red bolts; these needed slight edge trimming where the joined bolts weren't exactly the same width:






I then marked the overlap along the edge of each bolt, carefully brushed on glue, and carefully overlaid each alternate-color bolt:




The next step was to start overlaying the reef point and edge reinforcements. I decided to make these grayish brown, as either red or yellow would look odd and I didn't want to try to match color along each bolt. This highlights the structure of the sail and my story is that they're a different cloth or maybe walrus hide. Artist's license. So here's where the sail stands this evening:




And here's the other side, which doesn't have reinforcements yet:




My current thought is still to do the diagonal reinforcements. Anyone have any idea if these were on both sides or just one side? I'd sure rather only do it once, it's going to be delicate and difficult.


Hope you all like it, 'cause I don't want to redo this! Constructive feedback is, of course, welcome, as I can still learn from any mistakes for a future build. Thanks for your support.




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Posted (edited)

Cold blustery rainy days are perfect for some mead. Skoll!  Your sail is looking great! Colors are striking.  All anyone can do on the sails is gather the best information they can and make educated suppositions.  Your reasoning g is sound and the results look good.  I'm interested in seeing what you do with the diagonals.

Edited by End Of The Line
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Sails look great Eric!

So for your reinforcement lines did you use paper as well or a different material?

I’ve never used pastels before in modeling, only a looong time ago in high school art class, but I do remember thought that it was a pretty messy medium.  I’m curious as to how you keep the colors from smearing while handling the sails without a protective coating sprayed on them. I’d have my reds, yellows and browns smeared all over the place. Probably even on models I’m not even working on yet. 


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Sorry for the slow reply, kept thinking I'd wait until I had something new to show but still don't. This is the first time I've done a multicolored sail with pastel. In the past, smearing hasn't been a big deal because I've just been using the pastels to age/weather the white paper into a faded yellowish (see the sails on my revenue cutter linked in my signature). It took a lot more care not to transfer colors back and forth between the different panels this time. 


I find that once colors get rubbed into bond paper, they smear less. I wipe/rub the paper surface first with fingers then a cloth. After that, the loose stuff is gone and the color is worked into the paper fibers. Still have to be careful, but it's not shedding all over the place. But this is why I did each coloration on a separate workspace as described above.


THe bad news is, the more I look at my sail the less I like it. I placed it on the model and it just doesn't fit. I think it's too bright and soft for the darker tone of the rest of the model, and the paper texture is too fine for this large scale. Bond paper looks great on my 1:64 revenue cutter, but less so on this 1:35 ship. So I'm not sure what to do. I may try darkening it some. I'm also realizing I'm REALLY not looking forward to the delicate application of lots of thin paper strips for the cross-hatched reinforcements. 


So I'm considering making a quick furled cloth sail and displaying the yard stowed, especially as I'm leaning toward wanting to display the oars in working position rather than bundled. 


Life's really busy right now so I don't know when I'll decide or move forward on something else while delaying this decision.

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Turns out I moved forward today. I experimented with various cloth methods, after reading some more build logs, and just couldn't come up with something I liked or wanted to do. So I went back to the paper sail and applied another layer of colored pencil followed by a thick rub of brown pastel. This ended up darkening it pretty well with a better match for the model's color profile, and looks more like a weathered, heavily used sail.










So I think I'm just going to go with this. I want to keep moving.


I also started shaping oars. These are hard to photograph, but I chucked dowels into my poor man's lathe (hand drill) and sanded down the shafts, then used a knife to flatten the oar blades. Here are the first seven test-fit on the vessel:




I'll certainly stain and weather these, but it's fun to see them in place.


And here's a shot of the sail propped up in roughly the right position:




When it's installed for real, I'll bend it more so it isn't so two-dimensional. But this gets the idea across.



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For what it’s worth, I think you made the right choice going with the sail unfurled instead of stowed. The extra weathering added a nice touch to it. With the sails set and all oars locked in place, she’s going to be a beautiful display. 

As for your poor mans lathe, I still turn all my yards that way, or any piece that requires a taper. I feel that I have more control with the sandpaper than when it’s in my actual lathe. 


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  • 2 weeks later...

I took a break from the ship itself to build a base, as the lack of one was holding me back from various steps. For example, I don't dare install the rudder until the hull was permanently fixed in place over a base wide enough to protect it (as the rudder sticks out way below the hull), and I can't start rigging the sail properly until the hull is stable (since I can't tip the hull onto its side once the yard is fully rigged). 


I pulled out some cherry and walnut that I'd harvested years ago here on my farm and bandsaw-milled. The cherry was more cupped and warped than I would have liked, despite years of drying in a stickered pile, but since I don't have a planer, I made do. I used a hand planer and rotary sander to flatten and smooth the surface somewhat, but couldn't get it fully flat. So I adapted the base design to "hide" this. 


I had two 6" cherry boards, so ripped one of them in half lengthwise and framed the other with them, using walnut inserts to separate them. I intentionally left the walnut thicker than the cherry. This meant that I didn't have to get any of the boards lined up at the exact same thickness, as the subtle (unwanted) variations between the cherry pieces are obscured by the more obvious (and intentional) difference between the two types of wood. I then added end caps of more walnut strips to further hide the cherry's problems. I did this with the base sitting on my flat concrete garage floor (where, sure enough, it wobbled slightly since the cherry wasn't flat), but simply attached the end caps flush with the floor so the final base would be stable. 


Not going to win any awards for woodcraft, but it worked well enough. I didn't take any photos of the assembly process, but here's the completed base with several coats of wood oil. I definitely like how the raised walnut gives it some visual diversity and interest (also looks less like a cutting board than if it was all flush).






You may notice some chatter marks on the cherry. That's from the bandsaw mill. Ideally these would be planed off, and I don't have (or really want) a planer. With enough time I could have eventually taken all of them out using a hand plane but I frankly didn't care to. The oil and photograph really brings them out, they're not as noticeable in person, and I never intended this to be art. I may make a nicer base sometime, like post-pandemic when I'm willing to go into a wood shop and have them plane some boards for me, but this is good enough for a working base for a model that itself has various problems and isn't likely to ever be displayed outside of my home. I really want to be done with this model and didn't want to spend tons of time crafting a perfect base.


So then I proceeded to attach the model. For this, I carefully measured a centerline, then marked the two points directly under the thickest ends of the stand (where the cross-pieces are). I then drilled holes in these locations, both in the base and the stand. Below, the screwdriver and pencil are pointing to the holes, which you can just barely see.




I then hand-drove wood screws up through the base, leaving the tips just sticking out the top. I could then fit the holes in the stand onto the screw tips (the model would only sit flush when the tips met the holes), then held it down tightly with one hand while final-tightening the screw with the other. To make this easier, I set the base spanning a gap between my table saw and garage workbench, so all I had to do was kneel underneath.




And now that she's firmly attached, here's a couple broader views from the pad outside my garage:








I think it's good enough. The screw attachment means I can always take it off again if I decide I want to make a nicer stand someday. Now I can move forward again, although I quickly realized I'd need to change the layout of my workspace, as this now takes the entire width of my workbench (which normally has a lot of other resources on it):




There's a bunch of stuff living on the floor next to the bench now. Another reason to get this done!


Thanks for sticking with me.


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Beautiful job on the base. The chatter marks from the sawmill add a nice rustic touch to the whole ensemble. All of the boards on the ship would have been hand hewn so there would be plenty of them on the hull to fall right in line with the base. I think you are selling yourself short and don’t see why you don’t use that base for the permanent display. 

As for the workspace, I feel your pain. I’ve been dealing with the same issue for over a year now. Since the pandemic, we have been working from home and my shipyard has had to share room with my home office. I have stuff stashed in every corner of the room and since my build is so big, it takes up the majority of my work table. Not a lot of wiggle room. I sometimes have to resort to TV trays as extra work space. Also with the way lumber prices are right now, it may be some time before I get to build my permanent shipyard out in the barn. I guess we make do with what we have and soldier on. 


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Beautiful job Eric, longship and base.  I agree with Brian and Steven that the rustic base is a nice compliment to the model.  I really like the tones of the two woods together and the way the walnut stands proud of the cherry is a great visual plus.  And the chatter marks echo the thwarts.


Very nice work.



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You all are very kind. I do agree, now that it's pointed out, that the chatter lines echo the thwarts nicely, though that's harder to see when you're not viewing from above. As with many things in modeling, individual faults (such as they are) often get subsumed into the visual appeal of the whole, and that's probably true here. My real problem is where to put the thing; this is the first model I've built that I didn't have a prepared place for.

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Does anyone have any suggestions for reference for what Viking-era cargo might have looked like? How were barrels built? Did they use forms of crates? Would things be wrapped in some equivalent of oilcloth? I want to put some cargo within the hull (provisions for a crew, not merchant cargo) so it doesn't look so empty but am having difficulty finding information on what that would look like.


Also, how might weapons have been stored? I assume stacks of axes & swords had to be reasonable accessible yet still protected from salt spray. Bundles wrapped in cloth? 


I just want to give this hull a busier, less empty look, and that would be the next step before I start restricting my access to it through further rigging.


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Nobody knows for sure what was carried on yer average Viking ship, but there is a representation of a large barrel on the Bayeux Tapestry (late 11th century - not Viking, but Norman/Anglo-Saxon) at 

Bayeux Tapestry 16 Weapons and wine carried on board


- note also the man on the far right is carrying a shapeless bundle over his shoulder. I don't think there's any proof that oilcloth was used, but it seems likely.


It's likely a ship would have carried a large cauldron to cook up food for the crew when on land, and a tripod to support the cauldron. These photos are of actual artefacts.


Cauldron For The Next World


and http://warehamforgeblog.blogspot.com/2010/11/forging-norse-cook-pot.html


Several wooden chests have been found. The Mastermyr chest was full of blacksmith's tools and wasn't terribly big (the dimensions are in millimetres) . https://www.angelfire.com/wy/svenskildbiter/Viking/vikchest.html


There is also the Oseberg chest which contained fruit and wheat - https://www.historicallocks.com/en/site/h/safes/mastermyr-and-oseberg/description-of-the-chest-and-lock/


The size of the other can be estimated by comparison with their surroundings -  http://www.europa.org.au/index.php/projects/28-projects-lejrechest and http://viking.archeurope.info/index.php?page=oseberg-15


I would say weapons would be wrapped, probably in bundles, against the salt spray, and though there's no proof, I expect oilcloth, or perhaps oiled leather would have been used.






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8 hours ago, Balclutha75 said:

However, historical accuracy is not too important to me at this stage. Let me know if I have to stand in the time out corner for saying that.


For me it's less "I must be accurate" and more "avoid blatant anachronism". For example, I didn't even know whether hooped barrels had been invented then or were in use in this region.


Steven, those are great, thank you. On the tapestry, as a devil's advocate, how do we know that's a barrel as opposed to, say, a rolled-up carpet? Would barrels have had such a different length-width ratio as modern ones? It looks a rather unwieldy design.

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1 hour ago, Cathead said:

For me it's less "I must be accurate" and more "avoid blatant anachronism". For example, I didn't even know whether hooped barrels had been invented then or were in use in this region.


In fact barrels was a specific question of mine as well. I hope my above post came across in the lighthearted manner intended, sometimes that gets lost. I'll do some research into this as well, but I look forward to see what you come up with.


On Ebay I found a collection of Artitec "old-style ship's cargo" and was wondering if I can use any of it.



Thanks Steven for your always helpful information.

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Cathead, I suppose it's possible it's not a barrel, but it seems the most likely thing. A rolled up carpet wouldn't be heavy enough to need its own cart. And yes, buckets with (willow) hoops have been found, so the technology existed.


BTW, a  wooden tent frame was also found on the Gokstad ship. Reconstruction below. I'm pretty sure the fabric had disappeared.


Vegard Vike on Twitter: "The Gokstad tent boards where displayed like this  on the wall at the Viking Ship Museum at Bygdøy in Oslo, Norway until  recently. Four such boards are preserved.



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I took a shot at some cargo based on the above ideas. I didn't take any photos during the process so you'll just have to imagine. I'm also featuring the final two figures here, which I actually painted months ago but can't remember if I ever posted. These are a "his & hers" pair representing Mrs. Cathead and myself. The blue color isn't as likely but is our favorite color. And as a birdwatcher I very much appreciate this guy's raven shield. He also has a proper axe, unlike the swordsman and spearman I already painted. I thought these would give some good scale for the cargo.






The crates are based on Steven's links. I assembled them from strip wood, painted them, then weathered them with pastels. The hinges are thin strips of styrene colored with a black marker. The barrels are dowels I sanded into a more barrel-like shape using a sanding disc on a Dremel. I then filed rough plank boundaries and darkened them with pencil. I also added some faint hoops with pencil. These were also pained and then weathered with pastel. Oh, I also used a carving tool on the Dremel to eat away a little bit of each barrel end to hint at the inset nature of a real barrel head and remove the shiny smooth dowel-end effect.


None of these necessarily would stand on their own, but in a cluster they look pretty good and when they're in the hull among the thwarts I think will be quite acceptable. The real question is how many more I make. It took me most of the afternoon do to this. Mrs. Cathead looked at my project and said "You're procrastinating on making oars, aren't you?". Yes. Yes, I was.

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Very nice work, Cathead - and very fast work. 


By the way, I forgot to mention spears - the most common weapon at the time. You should take them into account.


And shields - and from personal experience flat round shields with bosses do not "stack" - they have minds of their own - as you already know.


Oh, and blue dye was fairly common. They used woad - it produces a colour very much like what your figures are wearing.



Edited by Louie da fly
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