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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Westland Wyvern Model

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A few weeks ago I posted a sketchbook drawing of the Westland Wyvern, an early ’50s torpedo/attack plane used by the Fleet Air Arm in the early 1950s. Today I’m posting a photo of a model of that A/C – a model I just finished. I have just one favor to ask as you look at it though – don’t look too close.

Oh, he model itself it great – a 1/48 scale kit by Trumpeter Models. It’s just not the most precise assembly I’ve ever made. Somehow the kit sprues had ended up in my parts box, and were almost thrown out when we moved last May. I salvaged the sprues and those parts that had been assembled, but there was some damage and the kit instructions were lost in the process.

I got it cobbled together but it has been painted in what I refer to as “stage make-up” a style that is not too terribly precise but looks great at a distance. I really wanted to have the finished model but I didn’t have a whole lot of time…and to be honest at (almost) 63 my skills aren’t what they used to be.

It’s also the first kit other than something gaming related that I have finished in almost 20 years so I am pretty rusty. Thankfully three of the half-dozen unfinished kits I have stashed away are  in 1/24 scale which should make them twice as easy as this one to finish.


A Crash Course in Building a Cardboard Bat-Mobile

2010-06-01a BatmobileFront

A lot of people have been checking out the cardboard Batmobile picture – most likely they are trying to figure out how it was done so they can make one for their kids as well. That photo isn’t the best of images to work from so I am going to share some notes on how I made it…and the emphasis is on the word “notes”. These aren’t precise instructions like you get with a plastic model kit and the diagrams are quick drawings from my sketchbook so they look kind of “squatty”. Refer back to the photo of the finished Bat-Mobile to make sure you get correct proportions.

First, get the following materials

  • 1 egg crate or similar-sized moving box
  • 1 smaller box with the same cross-section as the first one
  • 2 sheets of cardboard measuring no less than 24”x24”
  • 6 large hat boxes
  • 2 small hat boxes or cardboard cylinders cut down to about 3 inches
  • 1 Hot glue gun w/glue
  • 1 roll Black duct tape
  • black spray paint – probably two cans will be required
  • Craft knife with several packets of extra blades
  • Safety equipment (apron, glasses) as required


I. Make the basic car body

  • Turn the large box upside down
  • Cut an opening for the driver
  • Cut slanting lines on each side then make a cut across the front to connect them
  • Discard the waste (shaded pinkish)
  • Fold the box-top down until it fits along the curve.
  • Fix in place with duct-tape and hot-glue
  • Hot-glue the smaller box to the back of the main box
  • Cut side fins out of the cardboard sheets. Make sure there is a 2 inch strip at the forward end that will overlap the join between the two boxes.
  • Take the left-over cardboard and make an inner brace (green) for the car and glue it inside and just ahead of the opening.
  • Hot-glue the fins to the side of the car.


II. Add wheels and trim 

  • Flatten the bottoms of four of the hat-boxes by cutting as indicated in the first sketch. Flattening the “wheels” makes the car steadier when it sits on the ground and makes them less likely to get knocked off…and it looks cooler
  • Cut the 5th hat-box down to make a headrest
  • Cut the last hat-box down for a windshield. In this sketch the area shaded pink is the part you save/use. (Sorry for the confusion)
  • Use the small boxes/Pringles cans for headlights. The convenience of using the small round boxes makes them worth the price. You can glue the tops onto the main body at the preferred spot then glue the boxes into the lids. It’s a bit harder to get a good bond in the right place if you’re gluing a cardboard cylinder
  • Paint the entire Batmobile an overall black. Decorate as desired


III. Alternate method for wheel construction

  • If  hat-boxes are unavailable you can make your own cylinders. For each wheel do the following:
    • Cut two discs out of cardboard
    • Sandwich the two discs together with vertical dividers radiating out from the center.
    • Cut a long strip of cardboard the width of your tire/cylinder, then peel off one of the outer paper layers exposing the corrugated layer (adds to the bend-osity of the long strip.
    • Wrap the long strip around the outside of the edges of the discs and the spacers, making your cylinder.
    • This step takes some time and juggling so it’s better to use construction adhesive caulk for attaching the ends of the spacers to the strip wrapping around

IV. Notes 

  • If you want hubcaps you can either use the “shapes” option on Word or a compass to make the circles and either trace or draw a bat in the middle. Take that master image then copy it off onto red paper.
  • Construction adhesive in a caulking gun or white glue can also be used for putting this contraption together but will require bungees or clamps to hold items in place for the extra time these alternate adhesive require for “setting”
  • Be careful with the hot-glue gun. It will stick to your skin and give you a second-degree burn. In my studio it is not a question of “if you get burned with the glue gun” but rather “when you get burned with the glue gun”
  • Do not economize on craft-knife blades. More people have gotten cut with a dull blade than a sharp one and unfortunately nothing takes the edge of a blade faster than cutting cardboard
  • Wear an apron or old T-shirt over your clothes. Hot glue drips and ruins clothes.

This should get you on your way – and please send photos of your cardboard Bat-mobiles. It is always fun to see how my designs are interpreted by other people.

Done…for now.


Not the best photo – but it’s raining so I had to shoot this indoors.

I think this is as far as I want to take this model. I really like seeing the construction so I papered just enough of the model to make it not so confusing to look at. I also have to be brutally frank in that if I were to finish it and try to fly it I would have a disaster on my hands. The center-of-gravity is out of limits and the wings and empennage are not aligned properly.

When launched this “eh-pane” (as Jayden calls it) would do a nose-dive while making a tight roll to the right.

I really, really enjoyed this model. The process alone was a lot of fun.