|Meaning for my life came at 15. After spending part of a summer trying my hand at building a model airplane with the help of my older brother's roommate, the bug hit me and modeling became an obsession. By the summer of 1970, I had all of the L.A. and Orange County hobby shops pegged with my noseprints firmly embossed of all of their display cases and was well on my way to filling a six-foot long glass display case with built up model aircraft in 1/72nd scale. A few years later, some of my work was published in Scale Modeler and Scale Aircraft Modeler magazines and I had garnered several club and convention awards. Those times are now very nostalgic, when my only responsibility was to put the lid back on the thinner.
About ten years ago, while wandering aimlessly through a dollhouse miniature shop, I stumbled across a tiny display case produced by Browanell. This discovery along with a realization that 1/700th scale model aircraft would fit in nicely provided the impetus to create a miniature of a typical hobby shop from my youth in the Summer of 1970. I meticulously planned out everything that would have appeared in shop at the time, and began my search in old book stores, kit collectors conventions, and on eBay for hobby magazines, books and model kits of that period and before for authenticity.
I planned out the size of the shadow box I'd need, which would include a magazine rack, display cases, cabinets, bookshelves and kit shelves, coming to around 2' in length by 1' in width.
The publications and kits were in many cases scanned into a portable scanner connected to a laptop, and later modified in Photoshop to the appropriate size. Some of the books and magazines and many kits were found on the web, often through eBay lots. These required more adjustments in Photoshop. Most of the kits had no sides visible, so I had to create the graphics from scratch, following closely the original designs. Once the graphics were finished, they were laid out on a Microsoft Word document and printed using a Canon S520 photo printer with glossy photo paper. They were then painstakingly cut out with an Exact-o knife, scored, folded and tacky glued around plastic sheet for the books and magazines or tiny wooden blocks for the model kits. Each of the 199 kits took an average of 35 minutes to complete.
The aircraft and tanks were produced in Japan by Aoshima, Hasegawa, Skywave, Pit Road, Tamiya and Fujimi. After cleaning them up with some sandpaper, each was masked and sprayed with a Passche VL1 airbrush the appropriate accurate camouflage scheme. Decals by Gold Medal Models or those provided in the kits were added using the Microscale system, after which they were sprayed a flat coat. Each model took an average of six hours to complete. 46 aircraft and four armor pieces by GHQ made up the display.
A few of the furnishings were purchased from a dollhouse miniatures shop and the rest were constructed by hand. The rear and side counters and the cash register stand were created from basswood strips cut to shape, then covered with a smooth basswood veneer stained a light oak, while the tops were stained dark walnut. These were beveled and then glued together. Drawer handles were attached with trimmed pin heads. The kit and book shelves were simply basswood planks sized and glued together, then sprayed semi-gloss white.
During the 1960s and early 1970s, Vinyl Asbestos Tile was used in many stores and homes. I found a photo online, and from this extracted the separate tiles. Approximately 25 individual tiles were created in Photoshop, and then
assembled together in an inconsistent pattern to form the flooring. Then it was printed on glossy Kodak photo stock with a Canon S520 inkjet printer.
Various details were added for continuity and accuracy, including a Humbrol paint rack, cash register, bulletin board, Japanese battle flag, and more. As I look at this work now, I'm transported back to re-experience the thrill and joy of that era in my life. The hundreds and hundreds of hours spent in its research and construction to me at least, are well worth it.