…But I kept going. I was in this. I couldn’t just give up (OooOOps, Ive been a naughty boy or girl and I haven’t yet read part 1, so please take me to part 1!).
Once I’d resigned my model to being total crap, things started to go much better. It was as if the hand of doom had been lifted and the clay wanted to cooperate. What can I say, I am good at kidding myself.
Stop. Wait: I haven’t said yet what happened when I noticed the fins I was yet to create…
Yes, I had noticed the fins of my rubber model shark before of course — you couldn’t help but notice them! — but up until now, I hadn’t considered how I would make the fins and attach them to the body. The logistics of it, which now revealed themselves to be perilous! Now I really looked at the rubber shark, I saw that the fins on the shark’s side splayed out and downwards beneath the submarine-like body. What a pain for a man who thought things were going better. So you could say that this presented a serious problem…with the clay still soft, how would I attach the fins and make them strong enough to support the immense weight of the body?!
I wouldn’t, that much was clear…I was in dire straits, again…
For ten long minutes — which, as any craftsperson knows, is a lifetime in the world of quick-drying packet clay — I ummed and agghed, considering how I could magically suspend the shark in the air and attach the fins. Then a stunning flash of inspiration struck me right about the head! I would rest the shark on something so it was off the table, and then add the side fins…
Yes, I know this solution sounds obvious, but trust me: when you’re in the thick of Great White Shark model-making, you don’t always see the most obvious solutions…
Now I had solved this somewhat fundamental problem, I was free to continue my quest. This I did with gusto: my next task was to build the–
WAIT! No, scratch that: my next task was to come to terms with the fact that I had made the tail of the shark way too flippin’ long! Not only that, but the shark’s entire body was way too long. Damn that rubber shark and my extreme excitement and enthusiasm…
There was no other thing for it. I couldn’t just stare at this dodgy specimen all day. I had to make an executive decision while the clay was still nice and soft, and that I did: sometimes you have to do this with model-making, and in this case, this meant cutting my shark in half and extracting a large part of the abdominal area.
Then followed a precarious few minutes as the fate of my shark hung heavily in the balance. The bloody thing just would not stick back together, no matter what orthodox and unorthodox tactics I used. I’m disgusted with myself for saying it, for creating this monstrosity, but it looked a lot like one of those cut-and-shut cars that used to be all the rage back in the 1990s (but stopped being all the rage when they started separating into 2 when drivers were joining the motorway at 90 miles per hour. Novel, but not what you ideally want to happen. Unless you have really annoying kids in the back and it’s a very long drive all the way from Cornwall to Scotland, that is).
If I’m making it sound highly dramatic, well, dear reader, that’s because it was…
Now I had the fin situation under control, it was time to pay some more attention to the head, which, up until now, had much more resembled a very angry cow. For a good twenty minutes I geeked around with smoothing the head and body into the right kind of shape, and then I moved onto the top dorsal fin and tail fins — both of which demanded a special skill-set that it appeared I did not possess.
After ten minutes, I sort of possessed it, but it wasn’t easy. I surmised early on that I would have to use a bit of cunning artistic license, otherwise the fins would be much too thin and, later, when the shark stood on them and I felt all proud and happy, they would collapse under its own weight and I would be sent frantic with annoyance and worry (and possibly embarrassment too, depending on who else witnessed my fishy shambles).
An hour and a half in and I was sweating…the clay was drying fast and becoming much less maliable!
I moved onto the gills. I really liked doing the gills, they were tough but fun. Then, horribly, terribly, it dawned on me that I hadn’t even started the teeth yet…
I needed to, and in a quickfasthurry!
So that was precisely what I did: one by one and looking like the kind of nerd that even a fellow nerd from Games Workshop would find unsettling, I cut the tiny razor sharp daggers from the clay I had left, and then, very carefully, went about putting them into position. I do not mind saying one bit that it was a monumental PAIN IN THE ARSE. You had to get the angle just right, or else the shark would be a laughing stock. Not really the look you want when you’re trying to recreate the world’s most vicious swimming predator.
I thought I was now out of the woods. That all my preparation and intense concentration had paid off. But over the course of the next three hours I was reminded, repeatedly, that I could not leave my shark’s side for even three minutes — less it become a disaster! As the clay dried, it was crucial to be in or near the immediate area drinking peppermint tea, hovering like a trenchcoat flasher, just in case a fin looked like it might fall to one side, or the thing might collapse in the middle, rendering the whole operation pointless.
So I was to be on vigil until it ended five endless hours later. Not one of the best wait-around times I can remember, but I was damned if Iw as going out and leaving that thing to its own sordid devices after what we’d been through together. No way was I going out to have a good time, only to come back with a smile on my face to see that my shark miniature had warped and twisted into a total flippin’ wreck!
Not this shark maker.
THE NEXT DAY
All my waiting by the shark’s side had been more than worth it. My God I as relieved. The Great White Shark was just as it had been left before midnight! Now a light grey colour and seventy-percent hardened, all the effort and attention-to-detail was set forever and not going anywhere. Or at least until some moron picked it up and said “Wow, how long did it take you to make–” and then dropped it.
I thought that was the end of the making. I thought I had really done it. But no sooner had I started to relax than a tooth dropped out…followed by another! In the end, all of them dropped out and I spent another hour gluing them back in…
Once it was 100% dry, or so I thought, I decided I would sandpaper my shark. I would take it outside and carefully buff it until it was smooth (even though Great White’s aren’t smooth, but still).
It began well, but events took a sinister twist when the left fin snapped off, followed almost immediately by the tail. With the shark in three pieces, I won’t lie…for a split-second the urge was there in massive amounts to hurl the damn thing right over the next-door neighbour’s fence. But I kept my cool. No flying miniature Great White was potentially going to maim someone. Instead, I spent another hour gluing it all back together and staying close by with yet more peppermint tea. In times of strife, peppermint tea is nearly always the answer, as I believe I have demonstrated (warning: do not drink and model-make. It will only end in tears).
Later, I would paint it as you see in the picture, but first I wanted to show the shark to my friend Ola (via picture on my phone), who is a also a huge fan of these devastating beautiful creatures. I remember the text conversation we had quite well. It went something like:
Her: “Wow! It’s amazing!” I promise I’m not trying to big myself up, she really did say something like that.
Her: “…So how did you do all the rows of teeth? You know…like they have? That must have been hard.” Something like that, I think.
Me: “Rows of teeth…?”
Oh God, oh no. A horror thought struck me: Great White Sharks had multiple rows of teeth and I had done just one row each…
And I call myself a shark lover!