Zaida “sits” for her portrait

Although the steam yacht Zaida sits within the frame on the wall, it is not quite complete. More steel wool rubbing is needed on the oil-varnish finish, and the sails’ detailing needs recutting where final sanding is removed it. I also may gold leaf the filigree at the bow. But I needed a break from work and wanted to see how it looked hung the wall.

This is my second run at the Steam Yacht Zaida. I’ve used different techniques and am more satisfied with the outcome.
To be clear, I do not do scale models. My grandfather was a carver and did sailors models – the sort that seaman would do of the vessels they served on – I am much more in that tradition than scale work.

Zaida was built in 1910 at the J.S. White yard In Cowes, England. I’ve shown her here as she appears in the builders drawing. The drawing suggested a seriously overrigged arrangement which included a square yard forward and the possibility of a large staysail amidships. I doubt she ever flew that much canvas since she is described as a twin-screw auxiliary schooner.
For this portrait, I’ve reduced the sail plan to something more modest for the deck division to handle. However, at 149 feet in length, she must have had a relatively large crew.

In 1916 Zaida became an auxiliary Patrol vessel in the Royal Navy, armed with six-pound guns. Unfortunately, she was sunk while on patrol near Alexandria that August.

What’s involved in making one of these portraits? First, research, then selective compression of what you will include, and then carving. Research may be as easy as using a builders illustration to figure out the lines for a small sailboat like a small sloop or catboat. But on a larger vessel, especially an older one, research may never yield the sort of completion you wish. For every ship for which a plan exists in a research library or online database, thousands exist only in grainy photos and magazine articles. Sometimes these are the most interesting.

After research, you must create a plan for the hull, sail, stacks, and other parts. Sometimes commercial parts exist, but other times it all must be fabricated. Then you can start carving, and in many ways, that is the easy part. The total number of hours? For Zaida, about five hours of research, five of design, and fourteen for carving. Finishing is about four hours. So Zaida required about twenty-eight to thirty hours total. Of course, all this varies depending upon the size, research required, and amount of carving and finishing.

A small sloop is relatively quick to do. And small sloops, catboats, and schooners make up most of the portraits. Something like Zaida is for stretching your skills.

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