Buddy Davis: Making a Dino

 

Q. How true-to-size are your models?
A. My dinosaurs are, with few exceptions, life-size models. I wanted people to see them and say "Wow, this is how big these animals were in real life!" It was real important to me that people could see what God had really created, in its real size. What was on my heart, from the beginning, was to build life-size dinosaurs.

Q. How do you know if it's a dinosaur?
A. A dinosaur is a land-dwelling reptile that walks with its legs directly under its body, not sprawl-legged like a lizard. It's the hips that give it away. Sea creatures (like the pleisiosaurs), flying reptiles (like the pterosaurs) and sprawl-legged reptiles (like the edaphosaur) are not dinosaurs.

Q. How do you know how big your model should be?
A. Actually, the sculpting of the dinosaur doesn't start until I've done a lot of research. After I've decided which dino to build, I read through several trusted books for actual facts, based on uncovered fossils. (Since they are evolution-based, these books are good only for the basic facts about the things that we can see when the fossil is uncovered.) Once I'm familiar with the facts of the known fossils of my dinosaur, I try to find someone with a casting of original bones. I like to take my own measurements from a casting, so that I know my dinosaur is as correct as it can possibly be. I carefully measure the legs, ribs, backbone, tail and skull. Overall length and width are taken, but the height will be determined by the position of my model. (For example, my Tyrannosaurus-rex was based on measurements, taken by me, of a casting of the large T-rex fossil known as "Sue".) If I can't get measurements from a casting, then it's back to the books. I'd rather take my own measurements, but sometimes you have to use someone else's work.

Q. How do you get from measurements to model?
A. After I've got what I think are good measurements for the dinosaur, I draw a small sketch of what I want it to look like. Then, I tape together enough long strips of paper to hold a full-size drawing. I mark the paper with a one-foot grid and draw a silhouette of my model, using the small sketch as my guide. Once I have a full-size silhouette of the dino, I cut it out and trace?onto 1/4in. plywood?around the edge.

Q. How do you start the actual building of a model?
A. Now it's time to work with this plywood silhouette. For the really large models (like my T-rex in the Creation Museum), steel bars or rods were used inside the legs. After this has been done, foam blocks are glued onto this plywood silhouette and carved into the rough shape of the animal. Occasionally, clay and excelsior have been used for the bodies, but it's usually fiberglass that you see. Once we've got the roughly-shaped form, at least two layers of fiberglass are added. On the load-bearing areas (like tails, legs, feet, bellies), I might use as many as seven layers. With all that weight, I've had tails and necks break and legs buckle. After enough things go wrong, you learn to make sure that your model is strong from the very beginning. You should never lean on, touch, or climb on a dinosaur model (unless it's designed for that purpose), because even the biggest ones are still just models. Even though God's original dinosaurs had "bones like bars of iron", a paleo-artist's dinosaur models (like the ones in the Creation Museum) are very fragile and meant to be looked at only. Imagine how you'd feel if you had to stretch your neck out, without holding it up, and let someone sit or lean on it. You wouldn't stay standing for long, would you?

 

 

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