Cottage Industry Models – The Background

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The difficulties of moving from one place to another have much less to do with the places and things than the people left behind.  When I left SC for VA after the ninth grade, I left behind numerous friends, but there was one “best friend” far and above the others.  We were a little different from the others in our class.  Mainly, we weren’t embarrassed to to talk about our fondness for Star Trek, Battlestar Galactica, Star Wars or anything else sci-fi related.  Today, I can’t help but wonder how many of our classmates now find their more interesting entertainment within the sci-fi realm.

We kept in touch regularly at first, trading recorded cassettes instead of letters for a couple years as long distance phone bills might invite parental lectures or worse.  Inevitably, the friendship grew distant.

About 10 years ago, I met with my friend in Charleston, SC, where he and his wife lived.  We, and mostly he, used to make spaceships out of left over plastic model parts, Styrofoam, and anything else that might not be missed by parents.  My interest in models waned, even as I had heard through the grapevine that he had continued making them.  If you heard that, you might expect that someone buys a kit of a ship or a car or something that they like, and over time, learn to keep the glue inside the joints or paint in a little more detail.   Not so in this case.  Models were being made from scratch, with astonishing skills.

He has since returned to Greenwood, SC, and I was able to visit with him during my recent school reunion there.

First, it should be noted that hobbies are messy things.  As paralleled with my wife’s glass fusing interests, becoming good at a hobby begets a desire for a new piece of equipment, a new process, a new challenge, and, hopefully, a new accomplishment.  Repeat this several times, and artistic endeavors turn into business pursuits to support the weight of what is now an infrastructure.  They require spousal support and space.

My friend’s name is William Blackmore, the proprietor of the aptly named Cottage Industry Models.  His reputation as a plastic modeler grew locally in Charleston, but also nationally at conventions held by the International Plastic Modelers Society (IPMS), where he frequently won 1st and 2nd prizes.  His cutaway view of Robert Bushnell’s “Turtle” submarine received the most attention, with many disbelieving that it was a plastic model rather than wood.

Bushnells Turtle

Following are some examples from William’s workroom.  Let’s begin with the USS Arizona, 76” long, 1/96th scale:

It’s a big ship for a small picture.  Let’s zoom in for a closer look!

WWII ships were his forte for a time, with several on display at the USS Yorktown in Charleston, SC. 

The Arizona can certainly command a room, but William’s work room has many more.  Below are an assortment, many of which he sells as kits to others.

Nearby is the North African Xebec pirating ship:

Again, the details are worth a look:

Details of another ship:

 

William presently and intermittently is working on the USS Langley, originally a coal ship which was converted into America’s first aircraft carrier in 1922.  The model has not yet received its flight deck, which will sit on top.

This may look like an overly large plastic model, but it’s not all plastic.  And, as is the case of the USS Arizona above, it’s not intended solely for static display, but for radio-controlled maneuvers.  A look within the wooden hull:

  

William was increasingly commissioned to construct finished models for paying customers.  This worked well for artistic fulfillment, but detailed models take many hours to construct and are not exactly a gateway to riches.  Fortuitously, The CSS Hunley was raised from the Atlantic’s depths, and a renewed interest was given towards the first submarine to successfully sink another ship.  What followed were examinations of the ship which altered preconceptions and misconceptions of the ship’s design and dimensions, swiftly rendering all previous models inaccurate.  Consider: Civil War buffs hold significant buying power.

hunley

William quickly entered the plastic model business, constructing unfinished kits which he sold through Mt Pleasant, SC’s iconic Randy’s Hobby Shop, as well as directly.  Since then, his manufacturing prowess has expanded, and he offers standard kits of other Civil war vessels (submarines and ironclads), artillery pieces, and even scale sized nautical rope.

William Blackmore, in his element.

Next:  The manufacturing business.

2 comments :

  1. Nicely done! I really enjoyed the Arizona. Built before WWII, it was built in a time where gun turrets were "in". Their limitations were recognized and built into the next generation of battle wagons such as the North Carolina. But the Arizona represented a different era. Kudos to the modeler for picking out unique examples such as this and the turtle.

    Thanks!

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  2. I know Bill Blackmore and can attest to his superior modeling skills. I buy and build his Cottage Industry kits. They are fantastic. In fact, winning contests has become routine because of his high quality kits.

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