"What do you do?" "What is it you make?"
Like most model builders, as soon as one says "I make model aeroplanes" we get that look.
You know the one, the sideways double-take or the "Bit old for that sort of thing aren't you?" Or the now classic raised eyebrow..............
For me, it's a way to relax and forget the worries of the day, it is a hobby. To some, it is an obsession, the absolute need to get every detail just right, to make the model look like the real life object that it portrays.
Many modellers would not define this as obsession, they may refer to it as the challenge! To relish the effort, skill and resourcefulness that it takes to make their model stand out from the rest on a competition table.
Whatever way we define ourselves as modellers we all share a passion for building, painting,finishing and presenting our works to others. There is an argument which states that model making is not an art form, I disagree with this!
In modelling we are creating a representation of an object, an aircraft, a tank, a train, a place, a building or a person! Many model's or diorama's show us a moment in time, a piece of history. We can see many paintings that do exactly the same thing! So what not call our finished model a work of art?
OK, to call some finished builds a work of art may be stretching the point a bit, but on the whole every modeller I know has felt that huge sense of accomplishment when the model or project is completed. You know, when you stand back and say to yourself "I did that!"
I was handed a model kit when I was six years old by my dad, the idea was we would build it together. With one thing and another we never finished it and my interest faded. At about 14 years old I was taken to my first airshow and I saw a Super-marine Spitfire roar past me at low level hitting 350 MPH. In that moment my fate was sealed............I spent the rest of that day taking photo's of the fighters and bombers in the skies above me and parked up on ground outside their hangers. I was fascinated by these incredible machines that went so fast and made so much noise doing it!
So came the phase of saving up my pocket money and buying Airfix kits and tins of Humbrol paints. I had fun. I got my fingers stuck together. I had a squadron of aircraft that were all mine! I wanted to be a fighter pilot!
It was around this time I was studying history at school and one particular stage of British history that struck me was World War II. Many a time I had heard tales of what my Grandfather did during the war, my Uncles too. My dad would often sit me down with him to watch the Sunday afternoon movie which would be a WWII film. Watching "Reach for the Sky" and the "Dambusters" only fuelled my enthusiasm.
So models were made, paint was spilled and homework got done late on Sunday evening. It was a simpler, happier time. No worries, no responsibilities. Into my teenage years, plastic models gave way to music, girls and cars. Exams were like a giant thunder cloud looming over all of us.............that was the summer of 1989.
Years later after getting married, buying a house and a change of career, I found I began to have a little more spare time and I needed to find some way to relax. My wife told me I needed a hobby! We ended up one Saturday afternoon wondering around a nearby village and my lady pointed out a curious little store with what she called "toy aeroplanes" in the windows. They were models. They were works of ART.
We went inside and looked around, my wife knowing of my love for aviation suggested I buy a model aircraft to "take my mind off" my job. I chose a 1/72 Spitfire and a 1/72 Tornado. I picked up some brushes, paints and glue and that was it!
I spent hours sat at the dining room table with old newspapers spread out before me to catch the spillage of paint and glue. That was so long ago!
Since then, I have become a father, moved house again and changed career again, life just kind of happens, when we do come to a stop and reflect on what has been before we often ask ourselves "Where did the time go?"
The dining table gave way to the spare bedroom, the spare bedroom gave way to a garden shed, the shed gave way to a purpose built workshop. Or "Man cave" as my other half would call it!
So here I am now in my mid forties with so much to thank this hobby for. I asked earlier
"Where did the time go?" Well, every model on my display shelf marks the passage of time, as well as the subject of the model telling its own story, the model itself reminds me of a time in my life. Those models have seen me through good times and bad.
Since the emergence of the internet, there has been a huge global sharing of the modelling hobby. With a quick swipe we can access a myriad of web sites that show us completed models, new skills, techniques and products. It is a wonderful resource and a smaller world for us model builders.
I think it was around 2001 that I first joined a modelling forum, it was on Fine Scale Modeller. It was still quite a new thing to write a post on a website with one's own computer! When we discovered that we could post pictures on these forums too, it changed our small world forever..............Now there are dozen's of websites for each modelling interest, modelling doesn't have to be a solitary pastime anymore.
So what do I do? What is it I make?
I build models, I make works of Art!