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DIY Ship Ahoy! (3)

(Shanghai Daily)

09:08, June 24, 2013

&4<b>Accurate reproduction</b> "On the other hand, traditional Chinese aesthetics valued poetic impression rather than accurate reproduction," Wu observes. "That's a reason behind China's tragic loss to the Western powers in the 19th century and even today China is still known mainly for its primary products." His project of making a model of the black-awning boat typical of water towns around Shanghai was initially halted because he could find neither a plan of the boat nor any reliable historical information. He ended up by converting a crude, exaggeratedly shaped souvenir model he bought in Xitang, a water town in neighboring Jiashan City. This kind of improvisation is also what sets Wu apart from other model makers. "Plastic model kits on today's market are like fast-food," he says. Wu is never content with simply assembling the kits, even with more sophisticated accessories like photo-etch. He only buys basic photo-etch parts such as railings and helicopter rotors while creating other details with whatever is in hand. This not only saved a lot of money but also proved to be the most fun part of modeling. Take his USS Enterprise for example, the angled antenna masts were made from sewing needles, the safety nets around the flight deck from ornaments on a skirt, the searchlights from decorative "diamonds" on girls' mobile phones, the rigging from curtain fabrics and a whole set of signal flags from his own hand drawing. Sometimes, when his wife wants to sweep the apartment, she finds that Wu has taken the threads from her broom for his models. They make perfect rope ladders for sailing ships and were a key material in his successful conversion of a basic kit of the battleship USS Arizona. The original kit represents the ship before she was bombed in Pearl Harbor in 1941. But Wu took the challenge of converting her back to her state when she was launched in 1915. It involved total reconstruction of the superstructure. "I was fascinated by the cage masts typical of World War I American battleships and broom threads did a good job in bringing them back to life," he says. But his most cherished works are the models built from scratch, including the two sailing ship squadrons and the cutting-edge littoral combat ship USS Independence launched in 2008. He is especially proud of the Independence because he began the project immediately after the website of Austal USA, the ship's actual builder, published some photos and diagrams of the ship in 2008. "Those were some breathtaking months," Wu recalls. "I was relieved to learn that the real ship was still in sea trials when I finished mine." "Before I retired, many clients would seek my help when they found it difficult to do such simple things as hanging a picture on the wall," he says. The DIY spirit he cultivated in scratch-building model ships is what many Chinese people need, he observed. Wu has been contributing to "Model World," a leading modeling magazine in China, with a series of articles recounting in detail the building of almost every ship in his fleet. These formed the basis of his book "My 'Time Capsule Fleet'," which describes his deep understanding of scale modeling, especially for young people. "Children in China today are obliged to follow a utilitarian education system that focuses on exams and not true capabilities," Wu says with concern. "In fact, a skillful scale modeler has the potential to become a successful engineer, designer or technician - professions that are truly needed."<br><center><a href="/90782/8296038.html" class="abl2">【1】 </a><a href="/102774/8296054.html" class="abl2">【2】 </a><a href="/102774/8296055.html" class="abl2">【3】 </a></center>&$

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