Finding A Home And Settling In
The new support framework described in the previous post allows me to position the cameo anywhere along its length. I’ve experimented with different placements and have been surprised at the impact on my perception of the scene.
As initially conceived Mill Road represented a location somewhere in the middle of this line. Placing the cameo in the center of the wall allowed for staging cassettes on each end to simulate basic through traffic (one train a day) as well as a switching lead and car storage for the unseen grain elevator. However curiosity and wondering what if got the better of me so I slid the cameo all the way to the left hand corner of the room and seeing it in this location changed my outlook completely.
There’s a lowered ceiling here that makes the space more intimate. It’s like sitting in a cozy restaurant booth instead of an exposed table in the middle of the room. I really like this sense of enclosure and how I’m even more drawn to the layout in this space (photo above).
To ease the visual transition into staging, I decided to extend the scene onto a short module made from the retired 13th and North E Street cameo framework. This will lengthen the line for onstage switching and a dense woodlot of trees on both sides will visibly screen the exit point. My hope is the train will just gradually appear from the woods without a lot of fanfare.
Since one end of the cameo now tucks into a corner, I quickly saw the siding as an interchange track at the end of the line. Thanks to the non-specific nature of the modeling, it’s a quick mental shift from industry siding to interchange track, or from grain elevator to something else. The loss of the staging cassette on one end isn’t a big deal for me, as there is enough room to visibly stage several cars. To close the loop on my curiosity however, I moved the cameo to the opposite end of the room, where the scene takes on yet another vibe. This location didn’t do anything for me, so I moved it back to the other end, where I think it will stay.
By separating the modeling from the support structure, such experiments are a breeze. Consider how difficult this would be with normal construction. The layout would be out of service from the demolition and reconstruction and my mood wouldn’t be that great because of the mess and disruption. Also, what happens if I go to all that trouble and don’t like the results?
With this system, I can just play around with the position of the scene and step back to evaluate the changes. The real beauty is that nothing is permanent about my choice. If the new configuration doesn’t work out as I expect, I can shuffle pieces around once again and explore other ideas, thanks to the self-contained aspect of the modeling and built-in lighting. I find this level of flexibility liberating and love how the layout can expand or contract to fit a range of spaces and, how quickly I can reconfigure it if I choose.
While this module retains it’s built-in lighting, I will likely leave it off (as seen here) to further disguise the train’s exit. The contrast between light and shadow in the photo is more exaggerated than it is in person. Handling transitions like this will be covered in a separate post in due time.
This format works well for me because I have very specific and clear objectives. I’ve changed my thinking about what I need and want from a model like this. I no longer have to represent the long distances that I don’t have the room for in the first place. Instead I’ve discovered (rediscovered actually) the joys of getting to know one place intimately. I’m naturally enthusiastic about the design because I see those objectives coming to life and I’m sharing this in the hope that others will find the spark of an idea for their own situation.
The cameo format isn’t new and in Europe and the UK, it’s been tested and refined in ways I’ll never imagine. Here in the US, we have the mindset that a module, a cameo or whatever you call it, is just one piece of a larger puzzle. I’m looking at the format as a stand-alone design that could be expanded but doesn’t have to be if space or budget is tight. This feels like a better way to get started in the craft than the traditional space eating 4×8 tabletop. In a reasonable amount of time you’ll get a taste of the major steps involved in building a layout and the cost and space requirements don’t have to be a deal breaker to discover if this craft is a good fit for your needs.