Class Update

TheGuySIngularIt’s a busy time of year and I get to have my Star Pupil with me in the studio a bit more often than usual. After our last session Jaybug has developed a passion for sculpture, which for a five-year old usually means he will stay on task for seven to ten  minutes at most. However, It’s been a little different this time around and I know for a fact that we’ve had three episodes of Dynotrux air since he started pushing Super-Sculpey this afternoon.

3 x 23 minutes = 69 minutes or an hour & change.

It’s amazing.

I am not sure what to make of it.

I’ve had fourth-year art school students that can’t focus for that long….

Class Portrait

When NSCC kicked me to the curb last summer my Beautiful Saxon Princess told me that the only thing that had  changed was  the size of my classes. –  before I had anywhere from  25 to 30 students but now I just have one – my grandson Jayden.

I couldn’t agree more. Jayden is just the latest in a succession of kids growing up in my studio. We had a great day in the studio today learning about sculpture and sculpting tools and as  we were finishing up BSP decided to take pictures.

Initial shot


Attitude Adjustment


Final version….




PhagorThis is one of my earlier sculpts – a phagor from the Brian Aldiss Helliconia trilogy.  In the fall of 1991 Easton Press gave me an assignment to create a frontspiece illustration for their signed limited hardbound decision of Helliconia Spring. Most of the other figures and elements involved were fairly straightforward but I had never been happy with any previous version of the goat-like phagors  I had seen so I made the bust and shot reference photos.

Production notes: Super Sculpey with a metal armature on a wooden base and painted with acrylics

Mechanism Revised

Mechanism Revision

… at least I think the title is “Mechanism”. For some long-forgotten reason I’ve titled all my abstract sculptures with names that start with the letter “M”. Unfortunately records of those titles are sparse – I lost  a lot of “stuff” during our 2007 and 2015 moves ( three moves = one fire )… and at 65  my short-term memory leaves something to be desired.


Up until about a week ago this is what it looked like.

My original concept six years ago was to create a comment on ambiguous technology –  something that looks like it could have a function, but a function that isn’t readily identifiable. We’ve kept a running tally of interpretations and so far there’s been a 50/50 split between “gun” and “train” – though my mother-in-law insists it looks like a bomb.

The barrel-like extension on the right was never meant to literally be a gun-barrel but rather a way to allow the sculpt to control space with a minimum “effort”…then when we were surveying the front room pursuant to hanging more work I noticed that the “barrel” was starting to droop. The only positive aspect of that development seemed to be  providing grist for middle-school humor so I did some trimming week before last.


The Car-key Fairy


Sometime after putting together the Myrmaids concept I came up with a second line of figures called (In)Formal Fairies, a mish-mash reimagining of the traditional gremlin concept but based on female fairies dressed in formal gowns rather than ugly critters that you can’t feed or get wet. I wasn’t able to put nearly as much time and energy into this second concept, so production of the concept paintings ended up spread over several years.

Long story short:  quality is very inconsistent so I’m going back to the drawing board for a new set of images on which to base my copyright application.


I produced sculpts for two of the fairies that have held up well. Occasionally I will sell a casting, but I haven’t sold very many because:

  1. A) I’d like to get the entire set of images finished and under registered copyright first
  2. B) I have to put a pretty hefty price tag on them – there’s a LOT of clean-up work required after casting, not to mention the time involved in quality painting.

Now, do you ever wonder where those car keys went? The ones that you just had in your pocket yesterday? Well, look no further than the young lady imp pictured today. Done up in a shimmering formal gown complete with cocktail gloves, she is getting ready to drop the aforementioned get of keys down a heating vent, where you’ll never, ever  think to look for them…

1978: Halloween

David R. Deitrick, Designer


Folks who have grown up with movies featuring  ultra-photo-realistic computer-generated imagery can be rather jaded about it and have a hard time understanding the incredible impact Star Wars had thirty-six years ago. At the time I was  an industrial design student and I was keenly interested in the preproduction work on the vehicles and costumes. That intense interest kept going for quite awhile, to the point that when Halloween 1978 rolled around it seemed only natural that we should base our costumes on something from “a long time ago in a galaxy far away”.

Right off there was good news and there was bad news. The good news was Lori’s outfit was going to be easy, a simple white gown that could be stitched up from an old sheet. Between that and her hair being long enough to work into Princess Leia’s trademark cinnamon bun braids she was set. For…

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LibertyCon X Program Book Cover


Lori and I were invited to be AGOH’s ( Artist’s Guests of Honor) at LibertyCon X (ten) – which was not quite twenty years ago. Normally the AGOH produces a painting to be used as both the cover to the program book and a convention T-shirt design. I was in the middle of my dimensional illustration phase so Uncle Timmy 7 crew got a sculpt instead of a painting.

The A&E DVD sets were still a couple of years in the future so it was a low point for ‘Fanderson” and other fan groups so I don’t think many people understood what I was trying to do – but this piece screams “Gerry Anderson”.

This image is not the best version of the art. I have extensive archives of all my work since 1970 but until 2009 they were slide versions. It wasn’t a problem as we had a place in town that could make copies…but they sold their machine last year. I have a converter on the way and will keep you posted on how it works out.

Escape From the Styrene Stalag

Like most kids of my generation I was an avid model maker, spending most of my spare time and spare money on kits, glue, paint and other related supplies. Unlike most members of my generation I kept making models into adulthood but when my professional life branched off into sculpture, prototyping and other three-dimensional work I found that plastic kits didn’t hold the same interest for me as  before as they had become too much like work to be much fun.

About two years ago the plastic bug re-infected me; I don’t know if it was from reading FineScale Modeler or collecting Osprey Publications Modeling series – I was hooked on a whole new world with kits engineered to a degree unheard of years ago, so well designed that they just kind of fell together. There were also these new things, “After-market kits” with customizing details or corrected components  comprised of metal, resin or photo-etched brass that now made it possible to depict details to an extent only dreamed of years before.

I was hooked….but like every addiction there was a dark side.

This stuff is EXPENSIVE – and I’m not just talking the customizing products. The kits themselves have gone up in price far out of proportion to the rate of inflation with models that fifth-grader David  bought with 50 cents at  Spenard Hobby Shop setting college professor David back $15 on eBay today. Your time is no longer your own as well: fifth grader David would build a kit right out of the box in an afternoon while now I feel a complete slacker if I’m done within a month’s worth of evenings.

It all came to a head last week as I was trying to finish up a model of the F4F Wildcat in 1/48 scale manufactured by Tamiya of Japan. The Wildcat is a long-time favorite of mine, a plucky little fighter plane used by the U.S. Navy in the early days of World War II. This Tamiya kit is a jewel in polystyrene and I decided to invest a little extra time and money in tricking out the plane with inspection panels left open and showing interior details like machine guns and radios.

It  seemed like I was doing OK but as I got closer to the point where all the major sub-assemblies were to be put together I started getting a little edgy. All that interior detail in the back? Well, the access panel I removed wasn’t nearly as large as I had envisioned and by the time I got the cockpit installed and the fuselage gas tank mounted you couldn’t see a thing. Extra cockpit details made putting the two fuselage halves much harder than it should have been, but the proverbial straw came with the interior wing detail, the boxes holding the machine guns and ammunition trays.

They don’t fit.

No. Nope. Nein. Nyet.

There is no way to get the upper and lower wing halves to close around that subassembly – not that I didn’t try. I spent so much time with that part and a piece of sandpaper that I looked like I was making paper dolls there towards the end…and even then you couldn’t get them all to go together.  For a moment I was tempted to throw the kit on the floor and jump up and down on it, smashing it to pieces but that’s not what I did this time…mostly because the kit cost too d*mn much to waste . I gathered all the pieces up in a box and stored it away in the shop for another day and builder.

Does this mean I’m giving up the hobby? No, but I am changing some of the way I do things. I’m restricting myself to 1/32 scale or larger to I can actually see the $%#@ parts as I put them together. I’m going to be very selective about the aftermarket additions I get so I don’t go broke on just one model. I will continue to avoid the rivet-counter mafia,  that have wet-dreams about “accuratizing’ kits

(Is ‘accuratizing” even a real word?)

Most importantly – I am photographing any and every interior detailsI add just in case I end u  with undersized access panels again. If I take the time to make it I want people to e able to see it.







Cardboard Interceptor

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One of the benefits of having the MoonDog as your papa is having access to the biggest toys ever, to include my latest cardboard creation. Jayden has recently developed interest in “Aaah-panes” – or “airplanes” as the rest of us call them. He goes through a toy airplane about once a week, literally loving/playing the wings right off them, so I decided to make a kid-sized “aah-pane” he could climb into and imagine flying.

It’s been kind of interesting – he loves it, but he can only play with it for about three or four minutes at a time. That’s because he insists on picking it up and flying it around the room like he would do with this regular small airplane toys. At not-quite-three his imagination hasn’t developed to the point where he can envision being in the airplane.  The plane trip home from Virginia at Christmas 2014 has been his only exposure to actual aircraft and if it was anything like my first train ride he figures that it was a matter of sitting in a noisy cramped room for an hour. He kept trying to get his mom to sit in plane while he walked around it.

It was a lot of fun to make – and to me this sort of thing is the true essence of art, using my talents to bring a smile to another person’s face. Knowing that Jayden will eventually “play the wings off” this one as well meant I could forego my usual OCD finish job, which kept the process immediate and casual.


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