In the world of model building, time moves slow…..very slow. It takes anywhere from a month (when we have our shit together) to fifteen months (when we get sidelined by other projects, usually commercial projects) to finish a scene. Therefore Kathleen and I will be posting weekly instead of daily. Not much happens in the day to day except a little gluing, a little painting, and lots of attention to two needy cats. When a scene moves along at a quick pace, it’s usually because I know exactly what I want in terms of the color palette, the layout of the scene, the details. Our quickest scene was called “Vacuum Showroom” and we did it in a month. It also helped that a deadline was looming. The hardest part for me is deciding exactly what I want. Too many times there are too many options. I’m kind of a deer in the headlines when confronted by more than three choices.  

I usually find inspiration on the subway commute to my day job in Manhattan, and it usually happens when the subway emerges from the depths of Brooklyn and climbs uphill over the Manhattan Bridge. Something about the darkness to bright light hits me in the head and opens my mind. I get a literal brainstorm. I immediately transcribe my idea to my phone, then send Kathleen a text message with a great, new, astounding, earth shattering idea. Even though she doesn’t reply, I know she is sighing heavily. If I still like the idea a week later, and still like it two years down the road, then I know it’s worth building. I start the research process either with Google, or better yet, books (remember those?). The absolute hardest part of the diorama process is figuring out the color palette. Sometimes I know this the minute I see it in my head, but most often I’m that deer in the headlights again, trying to figure out if the scene should be predominately green, blue or brown. Too many options! And it’s especially difficult when doing research, I see a space that I love, but when it comes to making it in miniature, I can’t seem to shake what I’ve already seen, and I can’t break free of that impression. I really hate this. Therefore it’s best for me to conduct research from afar, again through Google or through books.


The current diorama Kathleen and I are working on I have been mulling around in my head for five years. It’s gone through several revisions, and now we’re finally bringing it to life. We work to each other’s strengths. I come up with the big idea and the color palette. Over breakfast, we drag out the sketchbook and start drawing out the physical space, the position of the camera, and make a list of details we want to fill out the scene. I go home and start fabricating the walls floor, ceiling and architectural details. I set the scale. Kathleen gets the lucky task of fabricating all the nitpicky details that I don’t have the patience to do. She’s pretty darn fearless in this department. I ask for a mastodon, and within a couple of days she had gone and carved me a mastodon out of foam.

CategoriesStudio Life