Posts Tagged ‘model building’

Even someone who does things that are generally enjoyable for a living occasionally needs a diversion. Mine is building model cars. I find it helps my creativity in a number of ways. One of the big enemies of any creative is creative block, when the ideas just cease flowing and you get stuck. It is for this reason that at any given time, there is a model kit on the table in the corner of my studio. When I get to a place of feeling stuck, I jump over to the table and paint a few parts or glue a few pieces together. I find that the diversion (focusing on something else) helps me to open my mind and break the block. Model building works for me because while it relies on some of my artistic skills, it is fairly regimented, so I can let my mind wander while following the directions. This particular kit is called the Vending Machine. It was a lot of fun.

What is your creative diversion? All work and no play makes for a boring creative.


revell-851735-the-baron-and-his-funfdecker-fokkerI took a few minutes early this morning to work on a model. It’s my hobby and I get precious little time to work on it. I guess that’s why I was charging ahead. I am building a fairly simple kit called The Baron… It’s a reissue of one of artist Dave Deal’s kits from the 70s. I love to build these things because they harken back to my childhood, when my Nana used to buy them for me and let me stay up into the night and put them together. I actually had this kit as a child and when I saw it was coming out, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it.

Now my skills have improved dramatically since those days, but there are some principles that remain constant. I was trying to glue as many pieces on as I could before having to head out to the office when I felt the little plane beginning to sink beneath my hands, and that’s when I remembered, no amount of skill matters if the glue isn’t dry. I was rushing a bit, and I paid the price. The wheels were falling off.

What a great metaphor. If you feel like the wheels are coming off of some aspect of your life, maybe you need to check to see if the glue is drying. My little plane could not stand up under the weight of the pieces I was adding to it. Those glue joints needed to cure. In the same way, it is easy for us creatives to go charging into our projects, trying to get them done, because we’re often working our creativity around other things, but sometimes we have to get to a point in the project and then let it sit until it’s actually ready and can bear the weight of what’s next. Sometimes we need to wait before we can proceed.

Now to be clear, I’m not talking about sitting around idly doing nothing. I fixed those wheels and moved over to the lap top to write this post. I simply had to acknowledge that this was as far as I could go on The Baron today and it was time to move on to something else. (This is why I advocate having two to three projects going at once.) It’s not procrastination if you know going further will wreck the project. Sometimes you have to let things sit and cure for a while.

If you’re metaphorically banging your head against a wall with a project, or if it seems to be falling apart and more work will only make it worse, maybe you need to let it sit and do something else for a while. Most times it’s worth the wait.

photo-19Does this guy look familiar? He should, it’s me… Well sort of. If you’ve been reading this blog for any length of time, you know I recommend having a hobby and/or side project going at all times for those times when you’re a little stuck creatively. It’s a kind of diversion that allows you to refocus and get unstuck. Mine is model building and I really love it. It’s artistic and yet it feels different enough from the work I do professionally. It’s (usually) relaxing and it’s a nice diversion.

I usually build cars, but I have a soft spot for the old cartoon kits from the 60’s. The combination of cars and cartoons is just fun. Way out of scale monstrous looking drivers grabbing for outrageously long shifters on cars with disproportionately large engines. They are so much fun to paint and build. Over the last few years, the Hawk Model Company re-released the Weird-Oh’s line of models and they made a B-line to my Christmas list. Well the other day I was at my local Ollie’s and I saw one of the kits missing from my collection. Wade-A-Minut, the official race starter.
I wanted this kit to put with two of my other kits in a sort of diorama. I got it home and started working on it. I began to notice some duplicate parts and at first thought nothing of it. Then I realized it wasn’t just a few extra parts, it was a whole second kit. That was kind of exciting, but what would I do with it? I began to notice that the hands positioned to hold a checkered flag and that it could also hold a paintbrush and I had my answer. I was going to make myself into a Weird-Oh. The above picture is the result. I’m pretty happy with it.

You might ask why I would make myself into a Weird-Oh. Well beyond the nostalgia and the fun, it will sit on my pastor’s office desk as a reminder. I’m supposed to be a Weird-Oh and so are you. Oh, not for the sake of being weird, but because scripture calls Christians peculiar. But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called. We’re supposed to be different, peculiar, even weird. In a world that is often going in the wrong direction, we have a call to be different, by being good. How odd are you? Do you stand out? You’re supposed to? You’re supposed to stand out. You’re supposed to be different. You’re supposed to shine so people see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven. In a sense…

You were born to be weird.

This was the first thing on my Christmas list this year. truck
I saw it online and knew I had to have it. It’s a Revell/Monogram model kit of a 1926 Mack Tank Truck.

I know, I know, it must seem a little childish, but there’s a lot more to this than a grown man playing with toys. To understand, you would really have to have known my nana, Beatrice Steininger. If you asked me to name the one person who made me an artist, (besides God) it would be nana. From the time I was old enough to hold a crayon, she put crayons in my hand. She bought me puppets and ventriloquist dummies and paint kits, she even gave me a beret once (it’s okay I’ve long since forgiven her.) My mom had a lot to do with it too so did some other wonderful folks, but most of my early creative memories revolved around nana. And there was one other thing nana got me all the time. Model kits. She’d take me to Zern’s auction in Gilbertsville and we’d go to the hobby shop and she’d let me pick one out every time. Then we would go home and I didn’t go to bed until it was done. Oh how I loved doing that. As I got older, I’d paint them and take more time and slowly it became more of a creative pursuit and another seed that pushed me toward being an artist.

This kit is a rerelease of one that my nana bought me all those years ago. The price has gone up about 600 percent, but building it brought back a flood of memories and I had a great time remembering nana asI built it. The smell of the glue and the paint, the stickiness of the glue on my fingers, all of it brought back fond memories.

There is another reason I share this. If you’re a creative, you may see your craft as your hobby and indeed art is one of my favorite things to do but if you get really serious about it, there are times where you might need a diversion from it and that’s okay. Sometimes the best thing you can do to build your creativity is step away and do something else for a little while. This Christmas was a bit of a stressful time for me, and having this little plastic truck to build allowed me to unwind a bit, just have fun and rest in some very fond memories.

It was just what I needed.