Clare HessShip Model Project Photos 

I’ve been building models since I was 6. As with many modelers, I started with plastic kits. I discovered wood ship modeling at the age of 30 and haven’t looked back since.

I’ve built kits, modified kits, and recently started building from scratch. It’s always a learning process, and I’m always trying to improve my building techniques and trying to find my “style”.

Research is one of the favorite parts of my projects, so I’m generally drawn to subjects that aren’t heavily modeled.

New York Pilot Boat Mary Taylor


3/16" scale - Scratch Built

18 1/2" long x 18" high

Mary Taylor, named for a popular entertainer of the time, was George Steers’ first attempt to incorporate some of the concepts that would later show up in the yacht America. 

The model is solid hull built from lifts. It is planked above the waterline and coppered below. Based in part on BlueJacket plans with modifications based on additional research.

Deck is planked in lemonwood, deck furniture and the rails are cherry. Model is all scratch except for cordage and belaying pins.

Private Armed Schooner Lively


3/16" scale - scratch built

22" long and 17" high

I started this model back with the late Jim Roberts owned North River Scale Models. I bought the model plans from him and it’s kind of my own personal memorial to him. The model began as my first scratch model, but sat for a time, so actually became my second completed scratch model. It’s plank-on-bulkhead with cherry and holly hull planking, boxwood deck planking, spars and deck furniture are cherry, cannon and anchor are cast britannia.

The model is all scratch save belaying pins and cordage. 

Japenese Higaki Kaisen


1/72 scale - Woody Joe Kit from Japan

16" long and 16" high 

The Higaki Kaisen is a ship type built for the coastal trade. The name is a regional one that refers to a trader of the Higaki guild that operated between Osaka and Edo (Tokyo). These ships were commonly referred to as Sengoku-Bune, which means "1500 koku ship", referring the cargo capacity.

The Woody Joe kit shows the unusual construction of this type of vessel including some of the interior detail. With my limited knowledge of the type, I built the kit with only a few modifications. 

18th Century English Longboat


1/4" scale - Model Shipways Kit

11 3/4"" long and 10" high 

This was a kit from Model Shipways designed by Chuck Passaro. I built it pretty much straight from the box, except for the tiller and the windlass handles which were easier to fashion from boxwood than the kit basswood. Also, I went with linen rigging line from Lloyd Warner and swiss pear blocks from Syren Ship Model Company.

Initially, the kit seemed just "okay", but I found it to be a fun and challenging build and a good learning experience. A nice short diversion from my other builds.