A World in Miniature
by Stewart Bailey, Curator
For thousands of years, people have made scale models of objects from the world around them. From models of royal barges found in the tombs of Egypt’s Pharaohs, to complex three dimensional architectural renderings, models have been used to bring the real world “down to size.”
On Saturday, September 19, the Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum hosted the largest display of modeler’s art in Oregon, as the Oregon Historical Model Society put on their annual model show and contest. Several hundred modelers from around the region, including many from Oregon, Washington and California, came to display their work in 65 different categories, covering not just aircraft, but just about anything that can be modeled, including ships, cars, trucks, military vehicles and spacecraft. There were even seven categories for Junior Modelers (under the age of 18), to showcase their work.
Before registration ended at noon, over 440 models had been entered in the contest, representing the pinnacle of the modeler’s art. While it was sponsored by a chapter of the International Plastic Modelers Society, the models did not necessarily need to be made of plastic to compete in the contest. A good number of them featured other materials including wood, metal and polyvinyl resin.
Typically, the models begin life as a plastic kit that one would find at their local hobby shop, but the end result is anything typical. Often the modelers modify the kit to present a particular variant or version that appeared at a particular historic period. Along the way they will probably spend hours and hours in research to get the historical details and markings right, and even more time in dealing with the tiny aesthetic details that make the models a true work of art.
Amongst the top winners in the contest was a highly modified model of a Piper Cub that was re-worked to represent a U.S. Navy HE-1 air ambulance, which took home the People’s Choice Best of Show Award. Other magnificent models included a 1/350th scale model of the first U.S. aircraft carrier, the USS Langley, and a diorama of a combat bulldozer cleaning up the debris of World War II.
Along with the models on display, there were 22 tables of kits, supplies and reference material for sale, and an hourly raffle that was stocked with hobby material. Also, young modeling newcomers could try a free Make-and-Take activity where they could build their own model, with the help of experienced hands.
All in all, it was a full day of activities and wonderful arrays of jewel-like miniatures; each a part of the real world, brought down to table-top size! Check the Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum web site for the date of next year’s event.