"Decision of the Admiralty Board"
updated  February 6, 2008
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     A diorama I am calling "Decision of the Admiralty Board."  is a little different that the wooden ship models I usually make.  Back in the time when ships were of wood and sail, for a ship to be part of the Royal Navy, the Admiralty Board had to approve it.  The Admiralty Board  required the ship builders to submit a ship model and plans and then upon consideration, decided whether or not to approve of the funds for it.  I have decided to make a diorama showing this scene in a shadow box.  My inspiration for this project came from the world renown Sheppard Paine.  Paine made such a diorama many, many  years ago.  I wanted to make one similiar, but yet different than his.  Down below is a famous painting by J. Seymour Lucas entitled "The New Design."  In it the Admiralty Board is considering this new ship design.  The second picture is a drawing of what the admiralty board room looked like back then.  The last is a photo of Paine's diorama.  I want to take some aspects from each to make my own version.

     Now to the actual construction of my model.   I began with making the walls and floor using one-quarter inch plywood.   I planked part of the floor with basswood strips.  The center part of the floor was filled in with larger sections of basswood since it would be covered by an area rug.  The walls were coated (several times) with artist's gesso.  This left a white colored wall that to my surprise, would take wood glue.  I turned some walnut to make rings for the globe holders.  The globes were made from wooden balls I had.  The hemisphere maps I got off the internet, sized them and then printed them.  After many attempts I got a size I was pleased with and glued them in place.  The jig in photo #6 & #7 is how I made the longitudinal and latitudinal lines.  I held a pencil against the edges of the ball and rotated it or moved the pencil for the north-south lines.  The shelves were made of boxwood.  I cut slots in the side to hold the shelves. I added molding to give it an elegant appearance.  The books were made of pieces of plywood (they will be painted later). The clock-like thing on top of the middle shelf was connected to a wind gauge and showed which direction the wind was coming from.  I will later place a segment of a watch hand on it indicating the wind direction.

     I am going to have pillars with capitals on top in the board room.  I want board room to have more of a wood look than Paine's.  The pillars I am going to make out of boxwood, but the capitals were going to be a little more difficult to make.  I made several out of wood and Milliput.  After many revisions I finally decided on one.  I made a mold out of RTV rubber and cast several.  The area rug was a doll house rug.  The chubby dog I made out of Milliput.  The fireplace I made out of ebony, the doors I made using cherry and boxwood.  I constructed the windows of out of boxwood with a single sheet of plexiglass inserted behind each of the three sections.  The plexiglass windows were a tight fit, so no glue was necessary to mar the clearness.  The wall maps were made from plastic tubing and attached to the wall with brass rods.  I found a map on the internet, printed it and used it for the wall map.  The two globes, one terrestrial and one celestial are now mounted in their holders and in place on the middle shelves.  The books have been painted.  The last photos in this group show a colorful room taking shape.  The wooden pillars with their capital tops have yet to be put in place.

     After the capitals were casted, I spray them gold and then applied a black wash to bring out details.  In the second photo one can see the logs for the fireplace.  I added a grill with a mesh for the fireplace and began work on the two small ship models for this diorama.  I used war gaming waterline models to start with.  At first I made the bottom frames from thin wood, but found it not to be what I wanted.  The model would need more frames.  I then proceed to make a sandwich type of bottom from plastic styrene.  I epoxied it to the metal waterline part and when dried used my Foredom rotary tool to grind it to shape.  The masts were made of brass rods that I soldered together.  The yards (not shown) are brass rods that I super glued onto the masts, then added epoxy to really set them.

     I am going to place this diorama in a shadow box at an angle and have lights in certain areas.  I wanted some "sunlight" to come through the windows, a light in the top of the ceiling towards the front and a light behind the fireplace.  I bought some doll house lights and transformers and rigged it up.  The shadow box was made from one-quarter inch oak.  I made an inner frame (which I painted black) that shields or guides where one see when they look through the opening in the front of the box.  
     Now for photos with the lights in the diorama on. First is one with the room light on. The next five are taken in a darken room with the only light source coming from the diorama itself.  I did achieve a sort of sunlight coming through the window look.  The light in the front top of the ceiling is hidden from view as I wanted.  The fireplace glows red after I placed a piece of plexiglass that had been sprayed with transparent red and a light bulb placed behind that.  In the last photo in this group, one can see how the inner frame works, it prevents one from seeing all of the behind the scene things.  I am anxious to get the figures, to paint them and then to populate this scene.  Once again this has been a fun project to make.

     Here is the last group of photos in part one.  I took two photos using a flash from the opening in front of the shadow box.  The fourth photo shows the relationship of the two ship models to the size of the shadow box.  The other two photos show the two ship models I made and the table that one will go on.  If you recall in the very top of this page I showed a drawing of what the admiralty board room looked like, there was a ship model on a small table near the windows with some sunlight coming through.  I am going to have a ship model near my windows on the small table I built and the other ship model on a larger table I will build when I have I get the figures.  On this large table there is going to be a ship model with several individuals looking at it trying to make the decision, "to build or not to build, that is the question."  In looking at some of the other photos of my two tiny (from tip to tip, 2 inches) ship models, I see areas where I am going to try to improve their appearance.  My next group of photos will be when all has been completed.  Hopefully the John Eden Studio figures I ordered will arrive soon.  Up to this point, I have worked 117 delightful hours on this project.

     These figures I ordered from John Eden Studios.  They are from his Georgian Stately Home and Tavern 1 sets.  Here is a link to his site. (www.johnedenstudios.com)  They were made of white metal.  I had to first build the table and chairs so I could figure at what angle to glue the arms of the seated individuals.  I decided to only use the legs of the table that came with the sets and made the table top out of a billet of walnut.

     I could see as I was putting my diorama together that one could see through the windows and see the inner wall of my shadow box.  I found a photo of an English building, printed it and glued it to the inner wall.  I added some green to the wood base.  In a latter photo you will see how this "building" looks through the windows.  The box was closed and a name plate added.  The last four photos in this group are photos taken only with the light from the shadow box itself.  I previously had 4 mini light bulbs installed, but decided to added 2 more.  I added another to the outside of the windows to give more "sunlight" entering the room and concealed another in the ceiling to give a little more light to the room below. 

     Now here are some photos I took using a flash and lamps to add light so one can see the details more clearly.  In the first 3 photos down below one can see one of two man-servants looking at the ship model near the windows.  He has decided to take a break and let the duties fall to his fellow worker.

     Here is another set of the final photos.  I tried to paint the ship model on the large table to resemble somewhat the HMS Victory.  I found trying to take a photo and having everything in focus was difficult.  The diorama is spread out enough to keep that from happening when taking close up shots.

     This is the final set of photos.  I know some of the photos are similiar, but they are taken with slightly different angles and with light variations.  The blueprints came from ads I found on the internet for model ship plans.  I scaled them in Adobe Photoshop.  Same for the wall map of Europe that one of the admiralty board members is examining.  The last photo in the group shows the "building" next door as seen through the windows.  I have tried to convey a meeting of the admiralty board and their discussion of the design of a new ship and their study of the plans for such a vessel.  It is the Guzman version of the "Decision of the Admiralty Board."  I hope you enjoy viewing it as much as I had in making it.