T.N.S. Stella

   by Michael Horvath for Somewhere in Time (2015)

I created the hull of the ship by ripping the blocks into thin slices, soaking them water, and forming them around a wood mold. I then used the sides of the box to create a sub-frame that I attached the wood pieces to form the shape of the ship. I used the wire, the various pieces of wood, thin foam pad, and the dowel rods to create the masts and the defining form of the ship. The polymer clay was used for the cannons and anchors. The burlap, canvas bag, and thread were used for the sails and roping. The wood of the ship was painted in some areas with a milk paint over a crackle medium and in other areas was treated with a solution of tea and vinegar/steel wool to age the wood. The canvas bag was cut up and the threading pulled to give it the tattered look and then soaked in a solution of coffee to darken and soil the canvas. The base for the ship was made with the box for the kit being cut up and applying the modeling clay over it. The clay was then coated with Elmer’s glue and painted with gesso and acrylic paints. The styrofoam was broken into pieces and glued to the clay base. They were then painted with gesso and acrylic paints as well. The buoy was made with remnants of the wood from the ship and some of the wood parts in the canvas bag. The chain for the buoy was made from the polymer clay as were some of the mines. One of the mines was made from the steel ball with clay and the other was the half sphere and clay. The clay and the foam were used for the various pieces of gold. The seaweed was made from the plastic that could be formed if submerged in hot water and the cotton balls. All of the parts on the sea floor were painted with gesso and acrylic paints. The story board was made with the aluminum bar, some of the wood scraps, canvas scraps, burlap, and the plywood circle. The wood was treated with the same solution as the ship and the writing area was painted with gesso. The wording was reverse printed onto a sheet of wax paper and then transferred to the gesso area. After that the words were retraced in ink by hand. The base of the story board was painted with a copper paint that was then treated with an aging solution.

Upon receiving the box and reviewing the contents, I tried to figure out how I could intertwine a theme that I have been developing over the over the past several years. The theme centers around fictitious ships of the Texas Navy. While the Texas Navy did exist when the state was a republic, the ships that I create embody more of a “what could have been idea” and each carries its own story that follows more along the lines of the traditional tall tales. All of my work on this theme embodies the idea that the ships have been “lost in time”. Upon hearing the theme “Somewhere in Time”, I decided to expand upon that and create a scenario where it would appear that the ship was on the bottom of the ocean where things seem to have stopped and, while things move on in everyday life, the ship appears to be stuck “Somewhere in Time”.

Story on the Story Board:
With the loss of the Savannah and the Elyssa, the Texas Navy struggled against the Mexican Blockade. In an effort to bolster its abilities, the Texas Navy purchased the T.N.S. Stella. Outfitted with 50 pound cannons instead of the traditional 36 pounders. It was also revolutionary in that it carried two 400 pound cannons. Unfortunately, this made the ship slower and somewhat top heavy. However, the massive armament meant that any ship deciding to engage in a gun battle were insured defeat. Unfortunately, the ambitious and infamous Admiral Benard Madoff decided to use the ship for his own purposes and raid the Mexican Treasury. He lay siege to fort at Vera Cruz where a majority of the gold for Mexico was stored. All that is known is that the fort was leveled to the ground without a trace of gold in sight and no one has seen or heard anything of the gold or the ship.