Museum models mini maritime menagerie

For one weekend, the Garibaldi Maritime Museum was headquarters for a fleet of ships.

By Brad Mosher

There were Coast Guard and U.S. Navy vessels on display, along with other historical ships.

Over the Labor Day Holiday weekend, the museum was the staging ground for dozens of small wooden ships made by hand by artists and shipmaking enthusiasts both local and from around the Pacific Northwest.

The museum even had two model ship builders put on demonstrations on how build ships in bottles.
For ‘Captain Dan’, it was both fun and relaxing.

A retired school teacher, he came from the Portland area to show off his skills with making model boats as well as building ships in bottles.

Citizen photo/Brad Mosher Dan Evans of Portland demonstrated how to build a ship in a bottle over the Labor Day weekend at the Garibaldi Maritime Museum. It was part of an experiment by the museum to bring in craftsmen to expose visitors to a more interactive exhibition.

Using a giant pair of tweezers, he would slide a small hand-carved and hand-crafted less than a few inches long, with the masts on lines that allowed him to pull the masts upright from outside the bottle once the ships we perfectly placed.

Dan Evans used clay to create the ocean surface in the bottle. Once he got to it the proper height and texture, he would gently push in a carved ship with the masts folded down. Then, using a giant pair of tweezers, he would place the miniature ship in the bottle and slowly pull on the small line stretching out through the bow.
That would fully extend the masts on the ships in the bottle, Evans said. demonstrating that to several people who were watching him work.

One of the vessels he was working on was a large model of the Mary Rose. It was much larger and more detailed, with a small cutaway in the hull showing an interior room where a tiny crew member had a candle.

“I like the old ships with the sails and the rigging, wood and planking,” he said.

He has gotten so interested in shipbuilding, he said his wife told him not to make the house into a maritime museum. The retired middle school team has been giving many of his projects away to friends.

“I don’t work every day,” he added.

He was demonstrating model ship building with a friend, Doug Argo of Canby.

“I bought my first boat about four years ago. I haven’t completed it yet, but I have built five others,” Argo said.

His favorites are the tall ships and the wooden ships, he added.

“I have done a plastic model of the U.S.S. Arizona, but I am not too happy about working with plastic anymore,” Argo added.

Some of the other historical model ships on display were examples from the Spanish Navy of the 1600s and Spanish frigates from the 1700s. It was part of a maritime art theme the museum has for the entire month of September, focusing primarily on the artwork of Christa Grimm on the walls. The larger model ships have “sailed” from the museum hall since the holiday weekend.

According to the museum manager, Anna Rzuczek, the themed exhibition was a bit of an experiment for the museum.

“This is the first year that we have tried something like this. We are hoping that we can build on it from year to year because there is a lot of interest in model ships in this area. We had a lot of people come through,” she said midway through the Labor Day weekend.

“A lot of these folks were joined by locals,” she added.

Some of the models were built out of just what was available in their garages. Others were made from kits or created completely from scratch.

“We have World War II era as well as Coast Guard. We tried to give a little history with each boat,” she added, pointing to a small informational label explaining the facts about the vessels the models were based upon. “That’s so you could learn what the boat was about … how many crewmembers, where the hatches were and what happened to it in the end,” she added.

“We had two model shipbuilders on hand to answer questions. There ambition is to get more people interested in model shipbuilding because it is a lost art,” the museum manager added.

They were doing hands-on demonstrations . “We had a lot of people come in and ask questions and talk with them. They were nice people,” she added. ‘They were very enthusiastic about what they do.”