One man’s hobby was turning heads at the Activity Centre last week.
Graham Baker brought in a hand-built scale model of the Black Pearl, the famous yet fictional ship from the “Pirates of the Caribbean” movies.
It’s impressive enough on its own, but even more so when you look into the blueprints, which he designed himself based on still images from the movie.
The construction materials?
“Basically, it’s all in the home somewhere,” he said. “A piece of fly screen for the mesh and whatever they’re called… that fuzzy thing you use in the bathroom for scrubbing your back. That becomes a fishing net.”
The model measures perhaps 70-centimetres from the tip of the bowsprit to the transom and 75-centimetres high from the bottom of the hull to the top of the mast. Looking closer at it reveals little of the provenance of its assorted building blocks. The windows are made of the clear plastic that you would find on the top of a birthday cake box.
The wood of the ship itself came together courtesy of a lumberyard of coffee stir sticks and household glue. There are cannons and a proper wheel at the helm, and even a set of golf clubs as a little joke to those who do look closer.
“Many times, I’ve gone to the dollar store and bought a toy and totally demolished it because I wanted something out of it,” Baker said.
“It’s unrecognizable from where it came from, but now it’s part of the models.”
He says “models” because the Black Pearl isn’t his first creation, nor is it likely to be his last. The 83-year-old retired hoisting engineer was involved in creating a model of the Syncrude project back in 1975.
Now he has 20 models of his own in the Stony Plain and Parkland Pioneer Museum. That is a collection of significant local houses and barns that have since fallen to the ravages of time or were otherwise demolished.
Preserving history is one of his motives; keeping those creative juices flowing is another. His home collection features a few other such houses along with a dhow, a junk and a caïque among other sailing vessels.
By his estimates, the Black Pearl took approximately 300 hours to build. “It’s a big job,” he says.
Surprisingly, the most difficult aspect of it for him had to do with the colour. It’s all black, so it was hard on his eyes trying to fit black pieces to black pieces.
Baker recently offered a workshop on making Christmas decorations for the residents at Pine Grove Manor, and he hopes to host another in the near future. Details on that have not yet been finalized.
By Scott Hayes, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
Original Published on Jan 27, 2023