The Little World – Be It Ever So Humble

We are often told that we must be proud of our humble homes. This is generally written in magazines that then tell us we must renovate said humble homes and the quotes will start at $10,000.  The pictures that we are shown in the ads are generally bare and minimalist. A Shaker would look at them and feel deprived. Corbusier would draw doodles and curlicues on the sideboard. In short – they are selling you the chance to live in nothing at all for a tidy round sum of money.

Hot damn.

I have concluded that this is a load of, and have decided to make my decorating statement upon the Rooseveltian principle; I shall do what I can with what I have, where I am. To that end I have designed my modelling workshop – it is in the heading picture.

You see a combination of fortune and stinginess.

A cabinet that once housed dental instruments – bought at great expense in 1969 and never sold off.

A cheap hanging motor from the local DIY shop

An X-Acto jigsaw that has survived all my married life.

Discarded bookshelves rescued from the verge.

A cardboard office organiser.

Birthday, Christmas, and Father’s Day presents. That’s the good stuff.

A picture of my late father as inspiration.

His bench vice. Probably his only vice.

The drafting table that only gets used for serious projects. Most plans are drawn on a clipboard in builder’s crayon.

The shop teachers of my youth would reel in horror, but then they were the sort of men who hung tools on pegboards. I have tried to follow their example but eventually everything comes tumbling off the wall. Perhaps that happened to their careers as well.

The only thing I am sure of in my modelling shop is that I can do it. I may not do it well, and it may not last, but for a brief period of time there is always something succeeding. It is all I can ask for.

 

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The Little World – I Wish I lived There…

It is no secret to say that Little Worlders wish they lived there – in the Little World. They spend a great deal of their time and an undisclosed amount of their money building their place in it – railways, houses, businesses, vehicles and aircraft…they sew clothing for it and make fabulous scale treats. They make the LW a grander, cleaner, safer, more colourful place than they occupy right now. It is only fitting that when they show this to us, we look carefully.

Thus my visit yesterday to the WA Miniature Society exhibition. I had a stake in the show too, as my ” Pearl Of El Paso ” set is displayed at one end of an exhibit table. But for me, the most fun was looking at the other Little Worlds.

Pearl of El Paso being filmed.

M. Vincent’s studio.

The fish van.

The pub.

Just a quiet garden corner.

1:48th bungalow.

Every scale vision is a little different and every one is a new destination for the Little Worlder to go to when life gets tiresome. It may not be cheaper than a Bali holiday but it doesn’t leave a hangover.

The Little World – Theatre In The Roundhouse

My visit to the West Australian Model Railway Exhibition is always enjoyable, but this year has been even more so…I have had time to reflect upon the theatre of what I was seeing. In some cases it was a complex thing and the layouts deserve praise for the sheer scale of their works.

None more so than that of the large-scale operators. I have a particular affection for them as I once owned a large amount of LGB rolling stock and track and took part in several of the rather crude early layouts at this exhibition. It was held in different halls on various years and we took advantage of hall tables and stages for the large brass track. It all arrived in boxes, we assembled a scratch layout on the floor, and then ran trains rather willy-nilly for a weekend.

No such crudities now. They have a large dedicated oval layout with three tracks available, plus shunting yards and steaming bays. They operate electric two-rail, battery-powered r/c, and live steam. I’ll bet they would run clockwork if they could get the mechanisms. The trains seem to be the same mixed bag consists that we used to lash up, but with better cars and more realistic operation. As the operation is of first concern, they are nor worried about mixing different rail systems on the layout…as long as the trains are accurate in themselves.

One thing I was bemused by was the different show that the electric trains provided vs the live steamer. The LMS locomotive with the wonderful carmine LMS passenger coaches was being driven by hand, and the minute adjustments needed to get it started and then trimmed for steady running around the circuit meant that the driver had to circle the layout at a fast clip himself. You got to see the train at intervals between seeing him. The electric people could stand in the centre and drive the trains past you for an uninterrupted view. I did note, though, that they had to contend with oil and material on the rails so there was a fair bit of wiping down after the steamers had finished. One thing – he got more healthful exercise that they did.

The temporary nature of the exhibition combined with the massive nature of the trestles and rail yards meant that scenery was kept to a minimum. It would be good to see some of these trains in a natural setting like a garden, or on a fully sculptured layout. The scale would hover between 1:22.5 – 1:29 but that is pretty consistent with the car model scale so there should be a fair supply of accessories available. Even dollhouse gear can be found in 1:24, if you wanted to get really, really detailed.

And I really, really think it would be a good idea.

 

The Holiday Season

We sure are Spartans when it comes to holidays here in Western Australia. We’ve just coped with Buddha’s Birthday, and some of us have managed 2 seders and are in the middle of a week eating squares of religious chipboard.

Today we all start the Easter cycle, and it’s not an electric start, either – most places of entertainment are shut, including the pubs, and the only general movement is the desperate holiday-makers driving south. Even they have it hard – there are double-demerit points for every imaginable road offence as well as increased fines. Those of us who are going to stay at home have it lucky.

Saturday will be chaos piled on madness as the whole town tries to buy food, petrol, and chocolate eggs. They could have done that on Thursday or Wednesday or any day back to last Easter, but they haven’t. The lines at the checkouts will be long and fuming.

I plan to retreat – to my little world. The Goldfisch Studios buildings are all complete and it is now time to assemble them in various combinations and lay the groundwork for a Hollywood Honeys advertising shoot. I’ve gotten a new batch of models – both human and miniature – and it is time to play again.

The really good news for me is that this year I also have a couple of new outlets for my studio work – I joined an internet exchange group that takes model car pictures and I also joined a physical collector’s group here in Perth. At least I think I have – apparently due to club rules my application for membership must be tabled for a month to allow the members to decide whether I am collectible. I shall visit the meeting in clean clothing and not break wind.

At least there will be chocolate this weekend. I’ve been given a number of celebration rabbits and I’m sure there will be more coming. Over-priced, over-sugared, and over-decorated they may be, but I love ’em.

 

 

The Little World – Frugal Is Another Word For Cheap

And I am getting to be as cheap as…

As a follow-on from my post regarding the use of ” that ” at model expositions, I have decided to go around to our local road verges and make models of the structures that are found there. It would appear to be a fertile field of endeavour. There is more junk at the side of the road than at the council tip.

And I don’t mean just on ” clean-up ” verge collection week, either. Every street in Perth has its share of post boxes, telephone booths, electricity boxes, hydrants, and connectors. I have barely scratched the surface with these six items. When I start to make bus stops the thing will blow out of all proportion.

These are humble models in 1:18th scale. They are mostly foam-core board with a wrap of drawing paper and the occasional plastic detail. The signs are drafted on the computer, printed out, then glued on. They have the virtue of being dimensionally correct as I went round to our local road verges and measured the originals myself – to the amusement of the locals. The colours are correct because I took digital pictures of them as I worked – this was also a source of detail for the signs.

I spent nothing on them save time and all the materials came from overflowing scrap bins. I probably have enough off-cuts of larger projects to make up the entire suburb.

The beauty of them is they will allow me to make a diorama presentation of something as simple as a road junction or car park that will feature a number of vehicles but with an authentic stage setting. People won’t realise why it looks right, as most of the time these humble little boxes and fittings are mentally invisible.

The Little World Week – That That That

When you are showing people your little world you should listen carefully for the use of the word ” that “. It lets you know how the venture is going.

a. ” That ” in the singular is fine. ” That is a model of a Spitfire. ” said at a plastic model expo is perfectly fine, unless it is a model of a Thunderbolt. The person using the singular ” that ” may be explaining the display to his child. This is a good thing – young people need to know about Spitfires, Thunderbolts, and plastic models in general. You have engaged the attention of the masses to a certain extent. Let us hope they continue to take an interest. If Pappa explains the difference between Spitfires and Hurricanes and Typhoons to the youngster and the kid asks for all three kits, we are on a winner!

b. ” That…That ” in frosty tones is not so so good. If it is said by an imperious club committee member as they point to your model, you can take it that there is something they don’t like. Not that you are obliged to do anything about it, mind. Just chill and see where the whole thing is going. You can always bite them if they keep on pointing.

c. ” That…That…That…” on the other hand, is a sign that you have succeeded. If it is accompanied by a squeal and a little dance you know you may have become a legend. It means that the viewer has seen your model and it has stirred up some memory or recognition on their deepest level. They cannot even articulate why they like it, but they do. Now is the time to sidle up to them and suggest they buy it for $ 500. If they press their wallet on you, grasp it and run.

Ya never know yer luck in a big model exhibition…

The Little World Week – Part Five – Papering Over Your Problems

dscf9453On my one and only visit to Japan I visited a gift shop in a tourist tower that had various hobby kits for sale. They were charming little things that allowed one to construct models of school classrooms, temples, television towers, castles, etc, and the most impressive thing about them was that they were all just made from sheets of paper. You got a booklet of pre-printed plans, cut carefully around the bits with scissors or a scalpel blade, and bent, curled, glued and folded until you had Osaka Castle.

I gathered that it was a characteristic Japanese hobby – and I salute their skills.

I’ve also seen any number of European-produced paper and card kits of ships, buildings, and vehicles that they have made on pre-printed stiff card. The Italian ship at the top of this column is an example that one hobbyist here in Perth likes to make. I don’t know how much his kits cost him, but given the amount of detail on them and the amount of work that he has had to do to make cardboard look so real, I think he has had value for his hobby dollar.

I, too, am starting to get value from paper. I had neglected it as a material for ages, believing it to be both too flimsy and too hard to work. I had consigned it to the HO/OO scale people as a material for English card kits of houses and pubs…and I had seen enough of them in railway layouts to convince me that they were an inferior substitute for Faller and Piko kits. I think the fact that many layouts used just standard printed kits with no additions or paint to cover the joined edges made them seem bad.

In my case I am using the material to make raised panels on foam-core board, to supply corrugated sheet, and to add trim to plain surfaces. In most cases there is a coat of paint and in some cases a lot of weathering. In some special circumstances I can pass a suitable sheet of paper through my Epson inkjet printer and get a realistic building material based upon a real surface seen as a digital image.

The new gas barbeque is one such application. If I can figure out how to impress patterns upon it after the printing I may be able to make stone walls as well. The great attraction of this is the cheerful cheapness of having my own resources to hand and the ability to make unusual surfaces. You cannot always just use Herpa or Faller materials and if you are doing large areas in 1:18 scale you cannot afford to pay hobby shop prices for raw material.

The gluing together of paper is easy…provided it is not some sort of space-age/designer/mutant material. I have found the Canadian Weldbond PVA glue to be excellent – even better than Selly’s Aquadhere, and C 23 balsa glue answers for nearly every other task. Tarzan’s Grip is traditional but hardly more than a thicker C-23 and you pay for it in drying time. Cyanoacrylic glues are not really needed for paper and it is a relief to be able to glue something with PVA without fear of becoming inadvertently stuck to the bench.

One other advantage for the paper modeller – if you ruin a piece in the making it is less of a wrench to discard it entirely and make another. You are less likely to try to ignore your errors and spoil an otherwise good model’s appearance.

Note: I still want to source the sort of cardstock that they print collector’s cards with. It is wonderful, but I do not want to have to buy Gordo Howe* cards to get it.

*Famous Canadian Baseball Star – originally from Cuba. His catch-phrase was ” Babalooo, eh? “