After a life at sea, he now makes mini ships

Ex-merchant navy officer makes miniature ships from paper and wood

For 64-year-old Nagesh Naidu, model-making is more than just a hobby. Born into a naval environment, he grew up amusing himself at ships and military vehicles.

He picked up the hobby of model-making in his childhood. He says that he simply observed the ships and made models using carving wood and moulding clay.

“In those days, we didn’t have many materials available. So, I recycled pieces of junk rough wood and made models out of them,” he shares.

Over the decades, various materials which made model-making easier and affordable emerged, helping him develop his hobby. “I slowly moved from wood to paper as it is inexpensive,” he says.

During his time in school and in the NCC, Nagesh had several opportunities to make models. At that time, he was introduced to balsa wood, the lightest wood in the world from South America, with which he built aero-models.

When he worked as a communication officer in the merchant navy, he had the opportunity to sail all over the world. He was exposed to the way the US, South American countries, Japan, Korea and Germany treated the art of model-making. “For them, model-making is a religion in itself,” he quips.

Even today, Nagesh makes the best out of waste. He doesn’t let go of even toothpaste tubes and caps, salvaging junk and storing them away, knowing that he can use them some day.

Over time, he has collected several tools and equipment. He makes models in his house, using whatever space available. He finds it difficult to run a workshop.

So where does he get his encouragement to persist with this hobby? “I’m a member of several websites based in Italy, Germany and other places, where members make an annual contribution of $8 or $25. Here, we can exchange designs and plans and also showcase our work.”

As for the actual process of model-making, Nagesh believes that it’s important to first understand the design, its history and more importantly, its purpose. He adds, “It’s thrilling to build models of sailing boats which are 200-300 years old, but without knowing what the model is for, it is difficult to build them precisely.”

He has built so many models over the years that he has lost count. Some of the models that have survived the test of time are more than 50 years old.

When asked about the time taken to construct a model, he says that while some models take a few weeks, others may take several months. Steps such as leaving the gum to dry overnight take up a lot of time.

That is why, Nagesh says, anyone who takes up this hobby must have great patience and attention to detail.

Today, CNC carving machines, 3D printing and other such instruments and techniques make model-making easier. But Nagesh opines that it is important to visualise the design before actually building the models.

He is also keen to spread this hobby to others, especially children and youngsters. “Plastic, clay and lego are all good ways for children to get started with model-making,” he signs off.

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