The Art of Modelbuilding

Rob Eddy at work
Many traditional model building techniques are still used today.

Yacht modeling as an 'art form' has been practiced for centuries. Some of those models may have been made during the period the vessel was from and in various ports of the world. You can see models in museums across the world spanning sailing history.

Our models are three-dimensional art forms made exclusively for the private yacht owner’s art collection. They are on display privately and admired and marveled at by friends, family and associates. We build our models with the finest materials available to insure longevity and value to be enjoyed by generations. Growing up in the creative community of Camden, Maine I had the great fortune to be introduced to mentors and artists. Camden has always been a source of great talent and artistic diversity. One such craftsman was a man named Jay Hanna. He was recognized for his contributions documenting maritime history for the nautical collections at the Smithsonian Museum in Washington DC.

As a professional model builder it was Jay who I tribute the advise, “Go work for a jeweler” so you can make your own hardware at any scale you chose. To this day there are no such places to purchase properly scaled hardware of decent quality, so “you should learn how to make it yourself”. Another such person was a creative man named Sam Manning, a local marine illustrator, graphic artist, boat builder, and draftsman. Many of his illustrations exist in books and marine publications such as Wooden Boat Magazine. As a close neighbor living down the street from me he was willing to advise me in understanding more about marine drafting and hull construction techniques.

During my early years of building models, each model I did was better than the previous one. As I progressed, I purchased new tools and acquired additional skills. The models continued to improve and my client list continued to expand. Every new model project presents new challenges and requires learning and adapting new techniques to meet our growing technical challenges, goals and our client’s expectations. The quality of workmanship, awareness of aesthetics, attention to detail, accuracy of hardware, and the ability to execute complex challenges have made us a clear choice for world class yachtsmen.

Professional modeling is a unique niche that requires many years of experience and an extensive set of skills required to produce the highest quality models. We use the best materials available, such as, gold and silver, and varying techniques that utilize new technologies. We also strive to make our shop an efficient and comfortable space to work. We educate and promote our vocation, shop and studio by occasionally providing tours and holding open house events. We build strictly custom one-of-a kind pieces of art that requires intense focus and thousands of man hours. If you are interested in visiting our shop and studio, please contact us in advance so we can accommodate your visit.

~Rob Eddy

Chronicles of a model builder by Rob Eddy

The America’s Cup Experiences

The 34th America’s Cup takes place in San Francisco September 2013

In the summer of 1971 while working on the docks at Wayfarer Marine in Camden, Maine, I was asked to assist Captain Preston Jacobs on a Trumpy power yacht called Megara. Megara was owned by the late NYYC Commodore Henry Sears. Later in 1975, I was commissioned to build a model for Henry Sears of the 12 meter yacht Columbia. His original model had been gifted to the NYYC as a tradition by the challengers and defenders. My model was to round off his own personal collection reflecting his rich yachting career.

Shortly after arriving at the NYYC several members at the bar noticed my presence and demanded to see the model that I was delivering. Two of those individuals were Briggs Dalzell and Briggs Cunningham. Knowing I would be departing the next day to the Maryland farm, where the model was to be rigged and ultimately reside, Briggs and Briggs tried to persuade me to swap out the model Henry gave the club with my model. This was quite a compliment for a young 22 year old model builder.

I told Henry and his wife Mary this story the next day on our trip from New York city to Chestertown, Maryland and Henry was quite amused and mentioned “this was typical of those SOB’s”. They were of course his oldest and very close NYYC syndicate friends.

In the late 1970’s I was in Newport, Rhode Island on one of the piers opposite where Olin Stephens was examining one of his racing designs, probably Courageous. I yelled across to see if I could use the Sears connection to gain access to see the boat and to ultimately meet him. He replied to my request “I fail to see the significance”. I left disappointed…. Many years later Olin Stephens in his 90’s was visiting Camden for the traditional Woodenboat race. Olin came to visit our shop and I reminded him of that story which he claimed not to recall with a smile. The next day I observed Olin Stephens passionately photographing boats from the aft deck of Bob Scott’s Concordia with a large telephoto lens.

In 1978 after graduating from Wentworth Institute and returning to Maine for summer work, I was employed by a local jeweler, Daryl Reiff, who won award recognition from DeBeers and Diamonds Today.

In 1979 I moved to Boston to work in an architectural office overseeing the model shop of Benjamin Thompson & Associates, creators of the famed Faneuil Hall Marketplace. While in Boston, I was able to set up my shop in Lincoln, Massachusetts for the next four years. It was during this period that I was employed by another model shop in Waltham and a jewelry store in Wellesley, Mass.

I had never lost my fascination for the America’s Cup. I went to Newport, Rhode Island for a sales visit where I met Mr. Joseph Aronson, owner of Aronson’s Jewelry store. He was a keen businessman who wasted no words and told it like it was. He knew his clientele and his business and you did it his way! He bought some of my custom sailboat pins and asked me to make some small (2-5/8” long) 12-meter sculptures that he could sell to his clientele. These were done in sterling silver.

During this time I built a 14 Karat Yellow gold sculpture for some friends of mine who were Defender syndicate members. The late Tom Blackaller helmed Defender and was defeated in the running against Liberty sailed by Dennis Connor. Dennis lost the cup to Alan Bond sailing Australia 11. Pictured below is that Defender sculpture still available for viewing and or for sale to the right individual. It is a small piece of America’s Cup history.

Joseph Aronson also gave me a small, replica America’s Cup Trophy pendant/charm he wanted produced in gold and silver for his store. Classic Yacht Models continue to make these available today in 14 Karat white gold and sterling silver.

How the Nautical Jewelry collection evolved

America's Cup Trophy
Pendant/charm dimensions are 7/8” tall
Price in 14 Karat Gold is $480.00

How did the Nautical Jewelry Designs evolve? is a common question asked of me. It is part of the reason that Classic Yacht Models stands alone in the custom yacht model business. Early on in my career my respected mentor Jay Hanna, located in our neighboring town of Rockport, suggested that if I were to remain in pursuit of this line of business, that I had better pick up some skills working in the jewelry business.

My first piece of jewelry to evolve was the Ship’s Block pendant and Ship’s Block earrings made using yellow gold and rosewood. The contrast is stunning and we still enjoy making these pieces today.

Other pieces evolved such as Custom Sailboat pins and pendants of owners sailing yachts. Generally many designs evolved with clients asking me to do something for them of their vessel which evolved by word-of-mouth. We built Friendship Sloops, Concordia 41’ Yawls, Herreshoff, S&S boat designs like the Dark Harbor 20’s, and IOD class boats from Northeast Harbor, Maine, and many others along the way.

One other piece we developed was the Herreshoff Anchor pendant/pin developed for the 1990’s when we were doing the model for Tom Perkins of his restored Herreshoff schooner yacht Mariette. The anchor was so well designed in every way that I could not resist making them available in gold as a piece of jewelry at the same scale as the ones on the model.

Another classic was our Shackle and Chain link bracelet. This one was a design that evolved within itself. It was begun as a smaller piece where it was more delicate with more parts to assemble to a larger version with fewer parts to assemble and we ended up with a better design in the end. The catch was also an evolution from a snap shackle design from a real boat part that served well in the design of the bracelet.

The Rob Eddy Compass Rose design was originally developed in the early 1990's for a friend who wanted a unique anniversary gift for his wife.

This popular Rob Eddy design is also being shared and elaborated on with another jewelry business that has added pavé diamonds. Our re-design maintains the simple, elegant style crafted in 19 karat white gold with 18 karat red gold compass points. Read more