Saturday, January 10, 2009

Viking Tribute

I decided that I needed to make a Viking Ship to say goodbye to Grandma. (I think if we'd been able to be at her grave site I'd feel less strongly.) So I gathered craft tools. After about ninety seconds of research, I decided to make a keeled and clinkered hull "dragon ship." I figured I'd forgo cutting out cardboard planks and use a sheet for each side of the hull.

For the keel, I cut out identical shapes and glued them together to hide the cereal box printing. I also cut out some dragon shapes for the head. I didn't want to paint the ship, so I relied on different layers to get the idea across.

As I was cutting out the shapes, I remembered all the Viking decor she used to have around her Ash Street house -- mostly pewter longboats. I'm trying to remember if she used to wear a Thor's hammer (I think it was called a "Norwegian" or "Viking" cross at the time) or if that was one of her friends.

At first I thought I'd be able to use thwarts to help give the ship a classic longboat shape, but they didn't really work. If I'd had more time (and patience) I suppose I would have built the ship the proper way, as it took about an hour of fiddling with the cardboard hull to get it to stay ship-shaped.

Typically, there was a Wagner soundtrack going on in my head.

After gluing the wrong shape sides to the keel, I ended up trimming the excess cardboard from the hull off (while it was still attached to the front of the keel under the dragon's head). I used some heavy clips to keep the hull halves in place along the keel while the glue dried.

For some reason I kept going back to Grandma's Ash Street house in my mind. She used to have a windowsill of knick-knacks, mostly ceramic owls that at one time had been filled with skin product. For some reason I remembered her in one of her lavender sweaters (with a braided knit going down the front).

To widen the boat, I ended up putting a kind of thwart system in post-hull-construction. For my purposes (having a boat that would float long enough to be a virtual pyre), it worked; but if I wanted an actual floating model I would have sectioned the hull more. I added some ballast (big old nails) along the keel to keep the boat upright in the water.

Once the boat was glued together, I used some duct tape along the bottom to keep the hull parts attached to the keel while I widened the boat more with some more thwart parts. The tape kept the boat from leaking too terribly. I also cut out some shields and a picture of Grandma. In this picture, she's drinking her second-favorite social drink, Scotch (I think her last drop of the stuff was when she was 95 or 96). Her favorite drink was probably "half a cup of coffee (but only if you're getting up)."

I put some paper bits into the boat, filled up a wading pool, placed the boat in the water, and lit it. My inner pyromaniac would have liked bigger flames (I couldn't find any rubbing alcohol), but I think it was more in Grandma's character the way the flames quietly and efficiently consumed what needed to go.

"Goodbye Grandma," I whispered. The boat sank quickly into the cold water with a hiss.
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