Like finescale modeling, blogging is a long-term game. It takes time to find your voice, to understand what you want to say and then develop a body of work. As with modeling, to fully realize the potential of this communication platform takes more of a commitment than most people are prepared for.

Let The Bumbling Journey Begin
On August 27, 2011 I put up the first post on this blog and freely admit to being clueless about the whole thing. Looking at the post today, it’s lame and predictable. In a nutshell: “Hi, this is the blog. Please read it.”

The simple truth is that we’re all beginners when doing something new. In the decade since, I like to think I’ve learned a few things about writing but honestly, I’m not certain I’ve learned anything about what this medium can really do. There are a handful of posts I look back on with satisfaction and far too many horrid ones I want to forget about.

Like any creative pursuit, writing reveals the writer to him or herself as much as it does to others. I’ve lost track of the number of times I wanted to quit from frustration or boredom only to find an inspiration that kept the embers warm enough for another post. This mental roller coaster ride is something I should have expected based on my painting experience. I now understand it comes with the territory in any kind of creative work including, and especially, model building.

An Unexamined Hobby Doesn’t Interest Me.
Writing this blog provided an opportunity to study my relationship to the craft in depth. It helped me understand what I’m drawn to and what I’m happy to ignore.

If you haven’t figured it out by now, I’m far less interested in the material trappings of our craft than I used to be. The desire for a monster layout and the mountain of stuff that goes with it is completely gone. In terms of space, effort, time and the probable environmental impact of a hobby built on repeated consumption, the cost of such a layout is more than I want to pay. Rather than see this as giving something up, I found the freedom to model on my own terms.

Looking closely at what I wanted helped me see how our craft is constricted within an opaque bubble that constantly and only reflects images of trains, track plans and a dysfunctional there’s never enough attitude toward room space. Such a narrow view separates our understanding of the work from the larger context of art and design principles that are familiar and embraced in other creative endeavors. Perhaps model trains is still too young as a creative art, or perhaps we simply haven’t considered the idea that such connections have value for our understanding. This incredibly satisfying post from Riley Triggs (linked below) goes far beyond the tired layout review format and connects Rick’s work to a larger idea outside the myopic framework we confine our thinking to.

In recent years exploring the connection between modeling and other creative arts has become a central part of this blog. The idea of modeling as an art form fascinates me and I believe holds great potential for the future of the craft. Now that I’ve had a few years to warm up and practice my swing, it feels like time to play the game for real.

For those of you who’ve stuck around for the long haul, I extend a heartfelt thank you. Your ongoing participation is deeply meaningful and appreciated. I’ll see you in the next post.


Precision-Fillmore Avenue Roundhouse Layout Visit


  1. Chris Mears

    Good morning. Congratulations on the anniversary. A measure like this, of real time, can only be seen as something to be proud of. Your likening of blogging to the craft of modelmaking works. I find that with Prince Street, I talk to the blog itself, so regularly so milestones like these become recognition of a relationship forged in time and a willingness to have an open, honest discussion with myself (by the medium of the blog) that details how we grow.

    As creative people our work can’t be, or at least shouldn’t be, understood through the outputs (what we made) but the creative process we navigate during the “making it” phases. How we interact not just with our choice of media but what we are attempting to express by this medium of model trains. “Express” as in its most human of definitions. It would be a shame if all we saw was “better” or “worse” models instead of seeing how we’ve grown as people because of what we’ve done in our work.

    It has been among the great gifts of life to be invited to follow this conversation. I know it has enriched the quality of my relationship with this work, this “hobby”.


  2. mike

    Thank you Chris. The post I just put up echos your sentiment and expresses what the work means to me.