Tag Archives: miniatures

My own Private Grand Budapest Hotel

7 Mar
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My own Budapest..The Painted Lady

It seems all the buzz this morning is about the Grand Budapest Hotel. Well let me tell you about my own hotel. I am obsessed with miniatures, can’t explain why I just am, models fascinate me. Ever since I was a child I have been building models you name it I’ve built it. I had every building set available as a child, Lincoln Logs, Tinker Toys, Erector Sets, Girder and Panels, AMT 3 in 1 car models, Lionel trains everything! I am fortunate that my parents recognized my passion early on, despite their worry about my somewhat anti social attitude. I simply preferred to be alone living in a fantasy world of architecture and auto engineering, in retrospect, playing out “The Fountain Head” scenarios where I was in control.

I’m no different now, in fact I’m more like the I was as a child than ever, due to age as Picasso so wisely understood, It takes a long time to become young. Back about 30 years ago I ran across a miniature kit that captured my imagination in a big way. A house kit, little did I understand where it would lead me. The “Painted Lady” has grown continuously ever since. The perfect winter project every February and March she gets an update. This year was ideal for nesting, its been a long hard winter so the Lady is getting an overhaul. Bare in mind she’s old and [just like me] in need of maintenance. The electric system was failing and she was really dusty. Over the last week I tore into a revamp, re-wiring, replacing bulbs, restoring pieces that have fallen off and making a few decor changes.

There is nothing that I savor more than rising very early and throwing myself wholly into a creative pursuit. As we grow older it becomes harder to find time to do anything creative due to this crazy world we live in where distraction has become a constant companion. I will say that advanced age has its advantages, I no longer allow myself to be pulled down by the daily stream of problems, I now make room for that “oneness” that can be found in doing exactly what you do best, they are precious moments and time has a way of growing short. The Painted Lady and I are the best of friends she is the embodiment of all things I am now and those things I have always been.

A bit of everything I am

A bit of everything I am

The Grand Budapest Hotel speaks volumes to me, especially the model making aspects of the film. Messy Nessy, Wes Anderson and I are kindred spirits. Take a look at the latest post from my favorite blogger Messy Nessy,


I am so down with this its hard to express.

I am so down with this its hard to express.

Now take a look at my own Budapest Hotel “The Painted Lady”



Dad and the Lionel

2 Sep

My life long obsession with model building started as an infant. My Dad launched my passion with model trains, which he purchased for me in 1953. I was one year old, what could I possibly do with them? I was simply an excuse for him to play with them. All post war GIs loved them. They were his toy not mine. He built a huge layout in our basement, it had everything, I remember how he sit me on his lap and let me push the reostat, and drop the little pills in the stack so it would puff along. As I got older he let me take over, I would lay on that whistle and increase the speed hoping to derail it, which I did time and time again, much to Dads dismay. Time on,my sister was born and we moved, we never again had the space, the trains were packed up and sent to the attic.

As a much older teen I would occasionally set them up on the attic floor and long for the original layout, grass, gravel, trees and hills, but that was never to be again. Time moved on and I went away to college. Never really to return home, my mother called and informed me that they had sold the house and were moving into an apartment. She was going to hold a garage sale to get rid of everything, the train set was first on her mind. She did have the sensitivity to ask if she could sell it. Mom said she would forward the money to me if I gave her permission. What a fool I was,I said yes, she later sent me the fifty bucks she sold it for.

I have regretted that decision ever since. Not only because my is Lionel worth a good deal more now, around 500 bucks, OUCH, but I miss my trains and all that went with them, especially the building of the miniatures. Plasticville U.S.A. Produced hundreds of hometown buildings, a strangely appropriate name, don't you think? A plastic city doesn't have to be in a box, just take a ride to your local Walmart.

Years have passed and I found a way to satisfy my obsession with miniature model making. Being an urban dweller I knew a train layouts are square footage hungry and I had no room. While prowling around thift shops, to funish my humble flat I found a doll house kit, unassembled. Hell! why not I thought, little did I realize what that small and somewhat boring kit would morph into.

Its been over 30 years since I started building and It is still unfinished, The Painted Lady Hotel…..Collection of photos I've taken over the past 7 years…

On Flickr



The Painted Lady Costume Ball

20 Oct

My own little MGM costume epic

As a child I remember my Grandmothers collection of Woolworth porcelain figurines,18th century sentimental portrayals of courtly personage. They were mass-produced in Japan after the war, strictly for the American market. When one considers the high level of Japanese craftsmanship one has to wonder if they were a form of secret revenge waged on the Western Caucasian devil. They are somewhat carelessly painted and totally lacking in the detail one expects from Asian crafts.

If you look closely you will notice that they are marked “Occupied Japan” to assure the American buyer that at least part of the price was going into U.S. bank accounts, therefore it’s alright to purchase from a former enemy, now  repenting for their membership in the  evil Axis and has embraced democracy.

Time heals all wounds and makes even the lowliest knickknacks desirable. These items have become collectible, once costing a dollar, give or take, they fetch 10 to 20 times that. Devoted Flea marketer that I am I will not pay retail for anything. I must admit they strike a nostalgic chord in me, simply based on childhood memory. Recently I have haunted a few markets due to the autumn weather and the fast approaching holiday season which in October means cheap. My intuition was correct, the sellers need cash and prices were low. At one such booth I spied an entire collection of the little gems 7 pieces in all for 3 bucks each, snapped them up in a New York second. My sis will love these,I thought, until I got them home and realized that their scale is a perfect fit for my obsession “The Painted Lady” sorry Evangeline looks like they found a home.

What better for The Painted Lady than painted ladies?

Of course I couldn’t wait to stage a little scenario using my newly arrived actors.  My own M.G.M. period costume ball…the link is your invite.


Back by Request; Painted Lady

1 Feb


Painted Lady

28 Jan

My ongoing project, The Painted Lady scale model photos…a few new ones.

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