One of the most elusive creatures in the real world are the birds – they have been a wonder and fueled desires for the human kind from the dawn of consciousness and many of our today’s achievements have taken inspirations from them. Certainly when I imagine any scene in a model train layout or a diorama, presence of a flying bird adds just the right amount of oomph factor to it to elevate the scene and bring a degree of completeness that is not possible with any other element of nature. However, physics prohibits making miniature models of truly flying birds. Yes, you can make a model of a flying bird, and there are quite a few of readily available models in the market that might just fit the bill. But just getting yours hands on such a ‘flying’ bird is one thing, and making it ‘fly’ in your static display is quite another! That, I believe, is where the true success of a model bird is. Of course it is difficult, and maybe that’s why the number of models with flying birds are surprisingly low, but done right, it sure is a head turner.
My biggest inspiration of model bird first came from eminent miniature artist Rex Stewart’s creations. As you can see in the photograph from his Facebook page, those birds truly transform the scene. Irrespective of how brilliant the rest of the model is, those sea gulls are the pièce de résistance.
Another tremendous example of true artistry brought to a miniature model through inclusion of birds would be Troels Kirk’s Coast Line RR which is a brilliant work of art in itself, but none can argue that the scene below just feels more complete with the bird in it.
Now, talking about me, towards the end of my ‘Bury the Gold’ diorama (previously called Blackbeard’s Sloop’ diorama), I knew that for a beach and ocean scene I had to have flying birds – birds might be optional for any other setting, but not for a sea-side one. My diorama is in 1:72 scale and although it is not quite as small as HO, when it comes to birds it is almost of the same difficulty level as it is for an HO scale model. I was keen on making large birds.
Gulls were a natural choice, but don’t be fooled by generalization, there are so many different kinds. Since I was building a scene in the Caribbean Islands, I specifically needed the laughing gulls. Another large-bird option for the Caribbean was the Frigatebird and given the uniqueness of these giants that resemble the ancient Pterodactyl, I was truly tempted to make at least one. However, I dropped that idea because the diorama was neither a ‘bird diorama’ nor it was supposed to provide education on large birds of the Caribbean. So just laughing gulls it was.
My ‘natural’ medium is paper, so it was no surprise that I now turned to my trusted modeling medium for this challenge. It was an enjoyable adventure and the final result was rather satisfying. And yes, these birds did take my diorama to much greater heights than what it was without them!
Laughing Gulls – made completely out of paper.
Following is an instruction video detailing the construction of the gulls- and trust me, it is easier than it seems! I would definitely continue to explore more birds for all my future miniature projects, and guess what, now I am even more excited to try this in N Scale for Wrightsville Port.