Monday, December 28, 2015

"Dragon Ship"

The "Dragon Ship" is finally completed and resting in its new home at the Rock County Courthouse in Luverne, MN I'm very pleased with the results of this lengthy and challenging project.

Here are more pictures from the process:

When I was satisfied with the second attempt at the hull, I made an "epic" decision to cut the head and tail off the dragon and attached it to the new hull made of thicker copper sheet.
 When I was happy with the outcome, I started gaining momentum at finishing the project. I wanted to maintain good proportions on the ship, so I made measurements and reference points and figured out what size my Viking people would be. I made little figures out of flattened copper wire I had for another idea on the ship that petered out. (One seated and one standing) These figures helped me decide on oar length along with shield size and sail height. I had to get my head into the mindset of a shipbuilder.

 Once the hull was formed to where I liked the curvature, I needed a deck. I cut the deck from the etched copper printing plate below.

 After cutting into rough shape, I added hammered texture. I hand hammered at first but soon grew tired and my arms were sore so I switched to my treadle hammer which I made from an antique sewing machine.

 I had made a mast a while ago before the second attempt at the hull. Minor modifications and adding a mastfish support on deck allowed for installation.
 A support pipe for the drop-in mast was soldered in below deck.
 Just for fun. I tested its water displacement. It floated surprisingly well.
 Shields are all hand cut discs with finished edges. I used a dapping block to make the bumps in the centers.
 I modeled my steering oar after the ones in my Viking book.
 This steering oar is cast from bronze and modeled after the oar on the Osberg ship pictured.
 Traditionally, the pivot point was achieved by using knotted rope through the hull and the oar. I wanted to use metal and therefore I decided to look around for something to re-purpose. I found the ball and socket style joint on the brass light pull chain in the studio.
 I only needed a little bit.

 Above is the finished steering oar.
 It actually functions.
 The first shield getting soldered onto the ship.
 One side done.
 Shields installed.

 Mast was pretty easy to fabricate.
 The hardest part was measuring and drilling holes to thread the jump-rings through.

 Cleaning started
 Cleaning progress
 Clean and ready for a real base to sit on... Two actually...
 I cast bronze into a pattern I cut from ceiling tile.
 Freshly poured bronze in the mold cooling.

 Vice grips to temporarily hold bases to make decisions. I decided they needed to be raked and the ship lower.
 Bases drilled and had copper tubing inserted and secured.
 Bases are ready for final trimming.
 Angle gauge used to check.
 First complete assembly.

 Starting the patina
 Still working on the patina.
Bottom patina added. Very precariously placed patina platform. Avoided two horrible casualties here. Dropping rods before ship was up and bumping rods while the ship was suspended.
 Ceiling tile works great for casting, but also for holding oars to patina.
 Rubber tips added to bases to protect ship from scratches.
 patina completed on ship and mast.
More to come...


  1. The process was beautiful to watch just like the final product-or even more. I wish you had added more details about the partuclar materials you used for every part. Impressive work.

  2. Its very nice. Just reminded me about the childhood story which my grandmother used to tell us about the holl. It seemed to be the one like this in the icture.