Sydney Wolvek (1923 – 1997)
Born in 1923, Sidney Wolvek built ship models for sixty-four years, seventeen of them as a professional. He was a compulsive model builder since his first 10 cent balsa wood kit of the MAYFLOWER in 1933. He was educated in aviation, and having served in the Army Air force in WWII, many of his earlier models were of aircraft. After the war he became a professional ship model builder, building custom yacht models and ships of the American Revolution for Abercrombie & Fitch.
Since the mid 1960’s, he has been involved in medical research, holding 16 U.S. patents in the fields of cardiac surgery and cardiac assistance. He was a research assistant to Dr. Adrian Kantrowitz in the 1960s during the early development of the intra-aortic balloon and has worked in the development of artificial organs at Cornell University-New York Hospital, Montefiore Hospital in New York City and Columbia University. He has continued model building for relaxation. During these years he has specialized in the research and construction of Ironclad ships of the Civil War, both Confederate and Federal, and in the “Landmark” ships of the industrial Revolution, ie: TURTLE and other early submarines. During that period, he developed a technique which combines walnut or mahogany with patinized brass and copper to give a sepia Matthew Brady-ish look to the models and the period that they represent. This technique is similar to the specifications required for patent models by the U.S. Patent Office during the turn of the century. Although the models are technically and historically accurate, he hoped the style would give the viewer a feel for the ship and for its experience in history.
Mr. Wolvek was a member of the Ship Craft Guild of the Seamans Church Institute, has had articles published on his work in the “New York Times”, “Rudder” and “MD”. He passed away in the fall of 1997, and will be sadly missed.