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Oakland Crafter Dedicates 30 Years To Model Ships Hobby

Steve Vreeland
Steve Vreeland Photo Credit: Courtesy of Steve Vreeland
One of Steve Vreeland's creations, which took three years to make. The ship is around 39 inches long and 45 inches tall.
One of Steve Vreeland's creations, which took three years to make. The ship is around 39 inches long and 45 inches tall. Photo Credit: Courtesy of Steve Vreeland
The Constellation, built by Steve Vreeland of Oakland. It took 20 months to build and is 38 inches long and 42 inches tall.
The Constellation, built by Steve Vreeland of Oakland. It took 20 months to build and is 38 inches long and 42 inches tall. Photo Credit: Courtesy of Steve Vreeland

OAKLAND, N.J. — Paramus native Steve Vreeland spent many hours over the past 30 years building model ships out of his Oakland home.

Vreeland, 66, attended hobby shows about ship building three decades ago and became interested. He started with a small wooden rowboat, only seven inches long, before graduating to larger and more intricate models.

"I just found it to be something that I really enjoy," he told Daily Voice. "I can sit downstairs for a few hours and work on one of them and I have a sense of accomplishment from it. When people see it they're just amazed by it."

Vreeland graduated Paramus High School in 1967. He served in the U.S. Navy during the Vietnam War and worked in law enforcement before retiring in 2003. He moved to Oakland in 1978.

When he retired he started a painting business, Rokel Painting. The skills there translated to his ship building .

Some of the models took several years each to finish.

"You can't sit and work on these things for eight hours [straight]," he said. "You put some pieces on, use some different glues, sit, come back, do some sanding."

The larger ships have thousands of pieces, Vreeland said, from multi-masted sails, rigging and planking.

He keeps two in his living room, and a few more downstairs to rotate back upstairs. Five of his creations also reside in other people's houses, Vreeland said.

"It's a process that the more you do," he said, "each time you build a ship it's like you learn."

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