Sunday, January 3, 2010

And they built a ship...

Months and months ago, when we were still in Ohio, Mr. Baseball asked me if I would help him build a pirate ship. At the time I was taking care of the very-morning-sick QB, packing for our move, taking care of the apartment complex, and teaching in the afternoons. I kindly told him that we'd have to wait until we got to Texas. Surprisingly, he didn't bother me much about it...until we moved. We weren't in town a full day before Mr. Baseball said, "Dad, we're in Texas now and you said we'd build a pirate ship." So as soon as we said goodbye to Grandma and Grandpa Franklin who'd come to help us move, we went to Walmart and bought popsicle sticks, glue, and sandpaper.

We looked up "popsicle stick pirate ship" online, but didn't have a lot of luck finding plans, or even examples of what other people had done, though we did find this:

But since we were a few million popsicle sticks short of Captain Rob's venture, we took a look at a few online images of pirate ships and decided to just take a stab at it.
We traced a base on paper and cut out matching sticks and then came up with a method for securing vertical supports and basically invented the process as we went.

We had to soak the small sticks in water for ten minutes to soften them up so we could bend them around the curve of the bow. Mr. Baseball got really good at using scissors and pliers to cut the rounded edges off the sticks and we both got really good at holding small pieces of glued wood together. "Count to thirty," I told him, and he did, head bobbing as he rattled off the numbers.

We used an entire bottle of wood glue and more than 150 popsicle sticks for the body, added some dowels for masts, and I printed out a white-on-black skull and crossbones for the sails, which we "laminated" with packing tape.

(NOTE: We colored the skull and crossbones green because unlike an ordinary pirate ship, our vessel was not designed for
marauding--not typical marauding at least. Our ship belonged to "Captain Greenbeard!"--a short, fairly unsuccessful do-gooder with a Robin Hood Complex who sails the seven seas attempting to steal from "bad" pirates and crooked British sailors in order to provide relief to Island nations oppressed by the British Empire. The Captain is a bed time story character at our house and though the socio-political context of his story are mostly lost on the boys, they like the idea of his subtitle: "Robin Hood of the Seven Seas."

We used hot glue to attach small gold washers to the port holes on each side, and inserted three small cannons on each side.

The final touch was to give the ship two coats of polyurethane. Both boys helped with that and then we stuck the ship out on the deck of our apartment for three days because it stunk so badly.

The finished product.

We spent a few hours a week on the ship and it took us about two months to complete. Before we'd even glued the first piece, Mr. Baseball was talking about adding a working rudder and a motor and making the hull water tight and adding real sails and a crows nest and a cargo hull and wheels and cannons that really fired...and...and...and it was all I could do to keep his feet firmly planted on the ground. The finished boat turned out fun, and it's sturdy enough and to-scale enough to serve in the Royal Lego Navy in our living room.

On top of that, the QB found out the county fair was taking submissions so we entered it in the "wooden toys" category and ended up taking second place ( I think there may have only been two entries, but we'll take what we can get). The Monkey earned first place in his division for a small raft he made all by himself and together we raked in $12 in prize money.

The monkey put his 6$ in the bank. Mine got eaten by the budget fairy.

Don't forget, September 19th is talk like a pirate day....


David Grover said...

Very cool. Reminds me of all the ambitions I had as a child but never made good on. What can I say: I'm a Gemini.

Emily said...

The finished product is amazing! I bet he'll keep it forever and have it on his mantle when he gets older.. What a great memory and what fun!

Stephie said...

that's so awesome! he'll remember making that with you for the rest of his life. so fun!

SLReid said...

You guys are so original! I love the pirate ship and you should have taken "ultimate 1st place grand award" or something like that! It was amazing! You and and Melissa do the best stuff with your kids! Love you! --Sherri

Mayday said...

Very impressive!

Alyssa said...

That is amazing amazing amazing. I think if my child asked me to make a pirate ship it probably would have been out of cardboard and packing tape. And how awesome to put it in the county fair! Congrats!