Take as much inspiration as needed, but no more…

My attention was recently drawn (in the USA and Canadian Railroads section of RMWeb) to some frankly amazing modelling posted in the blog area of the Model Railroad Hobbyist site, the work of Stefan Foerg (diorama), Gary Christensen (cars) and Rodney Walker (engines):

Superb, isn't it?

The comment has been made that this is “(i)n some ways inspiring, in other ways it makes me want to give up and run screaming into the night“. It is inspiring in very many ways, but it does not put me off.

Any good modelling shows us what is possible, but the diorama builder apparently does do this for a living. Apart from the time he is able to devote to it, his skills are routinely and regularly practiced, so he will automatically be better at this than most of us. Like many things, skill is about practising and honing one’s abilities as much as natural aptitude.

What it does provide is the opportunity to re-assess our own priorities.

At one extreme in the hobby is the ultra-detailed small diorama, with everything just so but nothing moving. At the other might be the operating layout based on snap-track, or maybe flexi-track, where scenic details are scarce but enough to provide a background and purpose to operations, and equipment has come out of the box, but there is a focus on making sure that everything works well, so that the model can be operated in the manner of the prototype. Both of these require care in execution, if they are to fulfill their designer’s needs, but where that care is allocated and time is spent differs.

For most of us, though, it is a question of finding the balance between these two extremes and our available resources of time, money and space. I don’t mention skill as to some extent, if one has more time available, then skills can be improved. If lacking in time, then money may offer a solution (i.e. pay someone else to do it for you!) and if space is lacking, then a small working diorama does offer a lot of opportunities to focus the other resources into something which can lead to chance to develop skills even if there is also little time available. It also affects the scale in which one works.

There is no secret in this, and we can admire the work of others even when we feel it is beyond us, for typical this reflects their chosen approach to modelling. Viewed this way, things are at best inspiring, at worst a pleasant reminder that other people want other things out of their hobby. Ultimately, it all leads back to working out what defines a “freedom layout“, being happy with that, and getting on with building the dream layout that fits into your available space. (And yes, I have been making some progress, but at the moment it has been painfully slow and not yet worth reporting.)

Personally, I thought the finish on the automobile was incredibly realistic: clean and polished without being out of place. In fact, I felt this looked better than everything else, which is why I included a link to that particular photo.

2 thoughts on “Take as much inspiration as needed, but no more…

  1. teigl

    I agree, work of this calibre is an inspiration. None of this stuff really floats my boat, yet I got really excited seeing these photos… the sheer calibre of craftsmanship in these gentlemen’s work makes me want to get to my work with renewed vigour.

    What depresses me and makes me want to pack the hobby in is when I read of people wanting to impose standards, telling us that things should be done a certain way, that there should be “best practices” as I have read on one fine scale forum recently. Often these folk obsess over something for so long they hardly achieve anything.

    I agree about the vehicle…it really is superb.

    1. Dunks Post author

      “should be “best practices” as I have read on one fine scale forum recently”
      Well, there is such a thing as a best practice – the one which works for you!

      Thanks for commenting,


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