The workshop is a-buzz with activity lately. Saw dust. Sanding. A fair bit of swearing. Just the regular stuff.
If you look closely at the construction of this new Nutshell, you may notice that there are some differences from the first one. As the construction continues, more changes to technique will be apparent. We live, we learn. We meet people who show us that there are different, better ways…
If you look closely at the display in the picture, you might recognize it as one of the Original Nutshells of Unexplained Death, made by Frances Glessner Lee. Through a truly fortunate series of unlikely events I found myself at the Maryland Medical Examiner’s Office in Baltimore this spring where I was able to tour the original collection of the art form and learn quite a bit in a short time. Imagine going to a museum and having the curator take the dinosaurs apart for you so you could see how they were assembled. That’s pretty close to what this tour was. Details unimagined. While spending the whole summer in the collection would have been great, the couple hours I was there filled my head with new thoughts and plans to move forward. I can’t thank Bruce Goldfarb enough for the tour, so BUY HIS BOOK! You can find it on Amazon and it comes out in February 2020.
If you want to get into the nuts and bolts, the thing I learned that stuck in my head the hardest was attention to incredible detail. In the first nutshell I built, there was a fair amount of specific detail that related to the case. When it came to some of the things unrelated to the case, due to a variety of constraints, things were left unfinished. Some of this was to keep the focus of an inexperienced investigative student pointed in the right direction. The MacDonald case model is huge. I’d still be crafting clothes for the closets if I’d attempted the level of detail that FGL constructed with.
This brings us to the new model. It’s an homage to FGL, being an interpretation of one of her creations. Hence, it’s part of the private collection that won’t be offered for sale. I’m relearning a lot of construction techniques.
If you notice the walls, they have studs in them. The MacDonald house used walls that were single sheets of 1/8″ birch plywood. They were solid and the scale thickness was a little off. The studs in these walls, 1/8″x 1/8″ studs working with the birch plywood to make a wall that’s 3/8″ thick, much more amenable to traditional construction dimensions for walls. It also leaves space for internal infrastructure to be added: electricity. While this nutshell will have the open ceiling allowing a bird’s eye view, the internal lighting of the room is quite important and will be a feature in future construction.
Part of the reason I went to Baltimore was to present the concept of using miniatures to the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences at their annual meeting. Bruce was kind enough to join me on a round table with Dr. Jane Wankmiller, the director of Northern Michigan University’s FROST Forensic Anthropology Research program. It was hosted by NMU’s Criminal Justice Department’s coordinator, Professor Robert Hanson.
Our discussion was animated and interesting, judging by the number of people attending. I haven’t been to many academic gatherings like that, but most of what I heard about them didn’t include full houses. I sure had a good time!
Keep your eyes peeled. I spent a pretty good amount of time gathering bits and pieces for this construction and the pieces are going together. More coming soon.