Friday, June 19, 2009


I see there was a little bit of confusion about the whole issue of masking, so I will clarify.

Until recently, Breyer masks (also called templates, stencils, or some combination thereof) were made out of metal. They were physically clamped to the model prior to painting. The base coat would be spray painted over this mask. The model would then be unclamped from the mask once the paint was dry (which, believe it or not, reputedly took less than ten seconds to dry.) Additional details and colors would then be applied, to finish.

Here’s a nice photo of a paint mask being used on Stud Spider. This is from page 11 Marney Walerius’s book, Breyer Models. (I wanted to show off and tell you which one of the Stud Spider masks it was - there’s more than one version - but the angle of the photograph isn’t helping.)

Since models would vary slightly in size and shape as a result of the molding process, the fit on these masks was always a problem. You’d get paint under the mask wherever the mask didn’t fit snugly: that’s what we call overspray. Sometimes you’d get lucky and get someone with clean masking - either the fit was good, or the painter was. But more often than not, you’d find yourself rationalizing the overspray on an otherwise showable model as mapping or haloes.

The laser-cut adhesive stencils used today are a relatively new phenomenon - brought to us via the increasing affordability of this technology, collector demand for more and better detail, and from the competition (Peter Stone) implementing it first, to good effect.

Breyer and Reeves did experiment with adhesive masking before, but it tended to be limited either to test colors, preproduction models, or early orders on new releases where the metal masking wasn’t ready yet (like the Polled Hereford Bull.) And they used plain old masking tape and (if we were lucky!) an X-acto blade.

The laser-cut masks are not foolproof. They are still subject to painter error, especially if they are very intricate, hastily applied, or designed for a model who is not as sedately or smoothly sculpted as a Stud Spider. All of those problems probably contributed to the painting problems on the Traditional Hidalgo Silvers.

I’m not one of those anal-retentive types who’ll freak out over every flaw. I grew up in the era of fuzzy gray stockings and overspray: back then, a cleanly marked model was a privilege, not a right. I’ll forgive a small flaw or two. Especially when the effect - such as my semi-Decorator Connoisseur Kennebec Count - is so darn amazing. We've come a long way since the era of Stud Spider.

(But I love my Spiders, too.)


Christine said...

Back in the good old days of fuzzy markings fingernail polish remover was my friend ;). I cleaned up a Yellow Mount and he went on to win many many blues. No one asked so I didn't tell. I know...bad. But I was a kid.

Becky Turner said...

wow they had metal masks! really.. that just surprises me! you would think that even back then they would have figured out a simpler and less expensive way than having a metal one done.. weird... didn't they have acetate back then? Im sure people were airbrushing then and used them... wonder they cost so darn much! now you need to show some good pic of them metal molds.. the ones I have seen are too dark and stuff.. too bad someone didn't have good color digital photos of some of the new molds themselves.. Id find that fascinating.. but then I make molds so ..hey.. lol
Rebecca Turner