News and Views on Models


This page has articles written in English or Swedish on models and model building. There are deep theoretical thoughts mixed with common information and a little gossip. You are wellcome to send comments and even articles or pictures to be eventually published here. The oldest texts are in the bottom to minimize your problem with scrolling if you have seen them enough already. Some texts will be moved to other pages like "model builders" or "paper models" when they are no longer news.

Min ambition är att här helt hänsynslöst blanda teoretiska och allmänt informativa artiklar om modeller och modellbygge på svenska och engelska. Du får gärna skicka kommentarer och egna texter eller bilder för eventuell publicering här. Texter kan komma att flyttas till andra sidor som exempelvis "Modellbyggare" eller "Pappersmodeller".

                                                                                                                                                Gunnar Sillén

Content/innehåll: submitted/inlagd:
Svenska örlogsfartyg från JSC 11th of November 2003
From the meeting in Bremerhaven in april 2003 22nd of May 2003
Halton model show 11th of October 2002
Paper modelling with a grandchild 10th of October 2002
Paper modelling in school (Isolda i Strömsskolan. L.Edet)  13th of February 2002
Exhibition "Till sjöss" (At Sea) in Stockholm 2001 29th of May 2001
From the meeting in Bremerhaven in april 2001 2nd of May 2001
Paper model publisher JSC 4th of October 2000
Paper or plastic? A comparision between two kits 8th of June 2000
From the meeting in Bremerhaven in april 2000 19th of May 2000
What makes joy to build 22nd of June 1999
Ships, picturing and pedagogical fantasy  4th of Nov 1998
Byggsatser till svenska örlogsfartyg från polska JSC
Klicka på bilden för att se flera bilder från JSCs intressanta satsning på några av den svenska kustflottans stoltaste enheter.
15th International Card Model Meeting in Bremerhaven in April 2003 
 This beautiful model, designed by Karl-Harro Reimers in Esslingen, was one of the news presented at the annual Card Model Meeting in Bremerhaven this year.

Click the picture to read more about this model and see many other models, especially ship models, on display.

The Halton model show on 6th of October 2002
This yearly event at the RAF Halton base an hour north of London is said to be one of the worlds greatest shows of hobby models. All aspects on modelling in two huge hangars and with lots of radio controled activities outside on the airfield. What struck me was that building working models of circuses and fair grounds seemed to have grown more popular than model railroading. There were more than fifty models like the one shown here.    
The International Card Model Internet Group was also represented. The pictures above show Roger Pattenden talking over his designs to the paper architecture model collector Robert Freidus. Then you see Mike Stamper talking to a visitor over the model he built from the JSC kits making up the Long Embankment in Gdansk. On the third picture is David Hathaway and a visitor looking at Davids wonderful models of old odd war ships. Over Davids head is an airship designed by Alvar Hansen and published by Schreiber. Alvar also brought the fishing boat in the foreground of the picture. To the right is Ray Morris with his fine collection of railway engines he has designed in the micromodel scale. The big pictures show Roger Pattendens beautifully designed beam engine, that hopefully soon will be published, and David Hathaways interesting model to the "Huascar" that once upon the time scared people on the South American west coast. More about Rogers models on More about Davids models on    


Paper modelling with a grandchild

Johan is five years old. On a visit to me, we sat down and I built a paper dragon for him from the excellent kit issued by Polish Halinski ( Johan watched me and helped me and also tried scissors and glue on remaining pieces of paper. 

 When home again he started to fill his room with own paper models. Lots of dragons, but also bees and birds and mooses. He now treats the scissors and tape as good as the pencils. And he told his parents: "Now you don´t need to buy toys for me any more. I can build the toys myself."  

Thanks to paper modelling he has really revealed a new dimension in his life.

Paper modelling in school

A group of boys in the Strömsskolan at Lilla Edet on the west coast of Sweden got the chance to try paper modelling in school. They built the free downloadable model of the 3-mast-schooner Isolda which was originally built one houndred yeras ago in Lödöse quite close to Lilla Edet. Click the picture to see and read more. 

Model exhibition "Till sjöss" (At Sea) in the Stockholm Toy Museum May - October 2001

The picture shows some of the more than 60 paper ship models that make up a part of the exhibition. Click the picture to get closer presentations of several of the models. 

Card model meeting in Bremerhaven 28th-29th of april 2001

Click the picture and you will get more views of this wonderful model and many others.

 Paper model publisher JSC

This is Slavomir Czolczynski in Gdansk in Poland. He is an educated naval architect with a great feeling for paper models. He and his family started to publish own paper models under the name of JSC, which is now known all over the world for its high quality. 

If you click the picture, you will find more pictures and a report from a visit to the wonderful family Czolczynski.



Paper or plastic

Two kits for models of the same building and in the same stated scale are compared.
Click the picture to read more

Some Pictures from 12th international paper model meeting in BREMERHAVEN in april 2000

David (and half his younger brother) with his own designs for a roman temple and a ship structure.
Most appreciated speech was given by 14 years old David Burkhardt, who described his use of a very simple computer software to design paper models and make fun for himself and his friends. 



Many of Davids models are very small. This one is less than 20x20 cm.


There were visitors also from Brittain this year. Roger Pattenden showed the beautifully coloured models he has designed and issued under the name of Heritage Models. He also showed a fine working model for a pop-up castle (left).
David Hathaway showed his design for two Brittish coastal defence ships (below).  
Hans Werner Grebenstein from Borken has designed and issued a lot of interesting models. His speciality is rockets and space craft. But he has among other things also designed models of an anti-aircraft-fort, the Monitor&Merrimac and this German WW2 submarine bunker    
A very interesting speech was given by Alvar Hansen (from Warsaw in Poland) who has designed this model of an old roman cargo ship for Schreiber. 
  Alvar Hansen wants to develop the German-Polish card-modelling tradition and find model constructions that come closer to the construction of the real thing.  I also liked his way of taking the question about historic accuracy very ernest.
  His approach to paper model design feels absolutely to be a step forward for the whole art of paper modelling.
Imogen Zimmer showed some new lighthouses she has designed and this American Coast Guard Boat (1:250). Precious and delightful.
I was glad to see that also Swedish ships have found their ways into German hearts. The coast defence battle ship "Sverige" and the icebreaking ferry "Starke" were built and described by Hans Jürgen Krüger from Berlin. "Sverige" is scratch built and Starke is a cut-out model design by Hans-Joachim Conrad. (scale 1:250)  



WHAT MAKES JOY TO BUILD (Mainly after a presentation at the paper modellers meeting in Bremerhaven, April 1999

Some model kits give you more of pleasant building time than others. What makes it? Everyone has surely her (or his) own favourites. Some prefer big models. Other prefer small. Some build nothing but airplanes from WW2. Some have fallen in love with Atlantic Steamers. So have I got my symphaties and antiphaties. I get simply tired just from looking at a kit to build a ship with more than four lifeboats or three canons. And I don´t like cut-outs where you have to strengthen some paper parts with 2 or 3mm cardboard. I like when the model shows a character that in some surprising way catches the original. And I find it boring to build a model that misses all essential things about the original with eventually an exception from the exactly scaled down measures.
  It is diffucult to make a theory on why some models give you more fun than others. But I find it interesting enough to start a discussion on the subject by commenting some examples. 

To the best paper models ever designed are the birds from Birdmobile. You allways get very surprised to find that some curiously formed paper pieces so simply could be glued together to a living image of an individual bird.  Many kit publishers seem to prefer issuing models of the most famous ships, airplanes or buildings. Probably because that´s the way they believe to get the highest selling-results. My own experience is instead that model builders prefer more odd things to build and try to avoid the tourist traps. When I let school children choose very freely what to build, they often choose typical things in their neighborhood that most grewn up people not look upon as worthy enough for modelbuilding. It could be tin garages, dust-handling premices and elecrical transformer stations rather than churches and cottages preserved by the local-monuments preservation committee.

Of importance to make a kit appealing is of course the graphic form. Especially for cut-outs where different countries have their own traditions. German cut-outs usually present the different parts in well organized raws. Czech cut-outs look very tight and confusing at the first glance. But it makes great fun to find that the numbering of the parts follows a very intelligent system that makes it easy and often very surprising to put the parts together.. A French engine model from the 19th century has its parts so marked that the litteras are still visible on the built model. You don´t do like that to-day as it doesn´t look "real". But I really liked to build that model as it reminded me of old didactic illustrations and thus strengthened the technical character of the engine.  
The colouring of a model makes a lot for your wishes to build it. What is really the "correct" colour on a picture or a model could be (and shoul be) discussed. There are no scientifically absolute way of translating the colour of a real thing to a scaled down model. The model designer must make every colouring to a conscious and harmonized whole in itself with enough freedom from what eventually could be measured on the real original. A designer that has given me special joys to remember just from the colouring is Roger Pattenden with his Heritage Models.
 Every model kit should of course be control built before issuing. It is good to have experienced contol builders with ability to see what is wrong with the kit and what is wrong with your own handling. But I think that we should also let children do the contol building. Not so much to see that the constructions are exact as to learn how children see, think and build. From that we could learn what makes a model enjoying to build. My experience is that children sooner build small and detailed than that big and simplified we grewn up often believe is best for children. It seems to me that children often feel extra joy when we put confidence in their ability to work out things that grewn up think is difficult

 Even models of popular buildings and well known things could of course be enjoying. To build a model of an historic monument could be a good preparation for a visit. You are allready aquainted with the place when you arrive. And the building of a model could be a joyful rememberance of a happy journey. Some museums know that and consciously use cut-outs as a way to get in closer contacts with the public. Many cut-outs have in fact started to get a good contact between children and parents or teachers and that way made the museum to an enjoying place for education.
  You can find the cut-ots in the museums shops, but nowadays more and more often as downloadable things on the internet web sites of the museums. It is now possible in every classroom to build an own little World Museum consisting of anything from sky to sea, technology and art from all parts of the earth. And sure it is much more enjoying to build the museums pieces yourself than to just look at them.                                                                  
                                                                                      Gunnar Sillén
(Mainly after a speech given at the paper-model conference in the German Schiffahrtsmuseum at Bremerhaven in april 1998)

Modelbuilding is a picturing art. Theories on representation, realism, idealism, seeing and imagination are as valid for model building as for oil painting, photography or stone carving.  I am afraid that my philosophical knowleges don´t permit me to give a lecture on post modernism. But I have understood that the copying of Nature is problematic. Most artists know that copying of Nature is on principle not possible. But many model builders still do unreflected attempts to make scaled down copies. All models, like all pieces of art, are abstractions. My interest in paper modelling has its ground in the fact that the material in it self stimulates the fantasydemanding art of making abstractions.
   But what is then a good abstraction?

Let me take some wooden models as examples. The first one is from Vitaby church in southern Sweden. Naive and not very scale true. But during the centuries, I am sure, it has created lots of fantasies in the heads of the parishioners. The next example is from the church of Fredrikshamn in Denmark. It is very scale true, but something is missing. It can´t be that it is a modern ship. Older ships in churches were all ships of their own times. It should be possible even to-day to represent a modern ship in a church. But this model is just boring. There is no life in it.
The third example is a kitschy piece of "art". Well handicrafted but more a caricature than a character-representation. The model is "over-defined". The form gives no openings for your own experiences and imaginations. A different example (by the swedish artist Ture Albert Andersson) is made out of scrap material in a way that really makes the form wide open for personal and unexpected imaginations.
The Wasa-museum this year showed an exhibition with some houndred models from the whole world of the Wasa ship. You could really go round and think much about "true" representations. Scale true, life true, feel true and what ever true you want. The one true must not necessarely exclude the other true. Wonderful is when a scale true model also is life true.
   But what is then life true? Old ship pictures may be "primitive", but when you study for example old grafitti you can see that very simplified ship representations often have found the most effective way yo characterize the living ship. The rules for picturing and for reading of pictures changes with the times. Therefore we have problems to see from rock carvings what bronze age boats really looked like. You can also realize that grafitti to-day should not represent reality but "cyber-reality". It is a mistake to believe that cyber-reality representations demand more fantasy than reality representations.
One houndred years ago there were also rather fixed forms for how to make toys as "fantasyful" representations of real things. Those toys now wake up nostalgic feelings. But of course they did not reflect the imagination resources of the children; more the grewn up peoples predjudices on what sort of fantasy was good for children.


This is a 19th century french paper torpedo boat cut-out. The french navy liked odd-looking boats, but this one is far out of reality. Don´t you believe that even children a century ago would have liked a little more scale true representations to help their fantasy?   An other french cut-out from the same time represents a quite realistic scene on the shore. It moves when you pour sand in the right place. The mechanism is very complicated and gives a very modest movement. What here is encourageing your fantasy is not the scene itself. It is the mechanism. Good for children who were to invent the airplane and the modern car.
Scandinavian children from the first half of this century have special memories of the weekly magazine Allers or Familj-journalen. From 1915 it presented one or two cut-outs every week. It could be a dolls house, a church, an airplane, a fancy scenery. The best of them were designed by the danish artist H.C.Madsen. Round 1930 he started to design cut-outs of the most famous houses in the world just to allow people to build up their own architectural museums. Together with articles in the magazine this was stimulating the fantasy to think world-wide. (Or was it just a typical manifestation of western imperialism?)
  Madsens designs are not exactly scale true. But they are splendid simplifications that give you living and astonishingly true pictures of the represented houses. So many of the best swedish engineers and artists have told that their creative lives started with the Allers cut-outs. There is a curious gap between the fact that the elite of modernism started to realize themselves with weekly magazines and the elitistic imagination that weekly magazines make people more silly.
The next step after the cut-outs was to build models from scrach. Round 1940 the interest in scale-true representations increased. But it was difficult to get good drawings. You had to make your own drawings from pictures and from looking at the real thing. And in this case you were in exactly the same position as an artist looking at a nude woman to represent in a drawing or a sculpture. You must train your seeing again and again. And you must train your imagination to find those lines and volumes that give the best, the most living or the most "true" representation. For the curious thing about representation is that the most look-alike representation of nature or a real thing cannot be just a measured and scaled down or copied one. There must be seeing, imagining, feeling, trying and seeing again. Even if you just build a model of an airplane.
  Plastic modelling has unfortunately given people the chance to get models with the "correct" shape without seeing. It is just to follow the instruction. Then comes the sickness of supering. To many plastic model builders try to build models so that you from a photo can´t see if it is nature or model. But photos are lying. In live, such models mostly look dead.
  The more exactly scale true you want to build a model, the more of imaginative seeing do you need to make the live model look life-like.
  I am afraid that also paper modelling with better and better materials could go the same way. You get more and more detailed cut-outs. The model builders just learn to put the parts correctly together. But they never learn to see and imagine.
  What we have tried in our Model Builders Academy is to open the borderlines of model building and learn from other arts. What can we as model builders learn from a baroque painters way of representing? What can we learn from a romantic sculptor or from a socialy concious documentary photographer?   
Sometimes we like to have our eyes washed by models that put everything upside down and inside out. Like the model that the swedish artist Elisabeth Westerlund built from Richard Vyskovskys cut-out of the Estates Theater in Prague and put under a glass table.



                        Gunnar Sillén



the exhibition
paper models