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Anyone, Any Age Dioramas

Several weeks ago my oldest granddaughter came up with a book about a bear and life in the wilderness and needed to make a diorama based on the theme of the book and as with every 13 year old she needed it for school yesterday!! Much to her delight I have a fully stocked hobby barn and for you new comers to this webpage it is “Hobbies in a Barn” which is now moved up in the world by becoming the teen art project barn, over a 3 evening period.

My granddaughter has known about my artistic abilities since she was about 5 years old as HO models and the railroad I have were always part of her life, I’d have to say that she learned a lot in a short 8 years compared to my 50 some years in building models, not bad for a quick project and using every HO figure she could remove from my current HO layout. Sheep, cattle and people, even trees were “up-rooted” not to mention my having to advise her about Styrofoam and crazy glue not mixing and poisoning the air with the resulting odor. Once she learned that Elmer’s school glue was better I turned her loose in the “Barn” and a magnificent resulting diorama was thought out, planned and built with no help from me. Although I had not a bear to spare, she still got an “A” and went on to fame in the school as she showed off the diorama.

These are the key ingredients to any diorama as I mentioned in a previous article on this site, first the basic idea needs to be at a level where anyone can create a scene. Then the idea can be transferred to a sketch or drawing and then putting together all of the material needed;

The base can be treated wood or what I use now which is recycled rubber stepping stones sold in garden centers.

The ground material as I have used and shown can be anything that is sold as modeling scenery or what is found in nature, it is up to the diorama maker.

The details can be simple or as complex as you wish but start out small so you don’t get discouraged.

If you are creating a scene with figures or other complex details remember to keep these to a minimum as crowding too many like things into a scene can ruin it.

Think of a diorama as simply a 3 dimensional painting, which is true, you are making a creation from your mind using up, down and sideways brush strokes if you see it that way.

And if you are in a bind, remember to refer to my Facebook pages for more help and that I do build all sorts of customer-ordered dioramas and related models.  Any student that needs to have a project for classes will have to build the diorama without outside assistance for realism and fairness to others but custom diorama and model building can apply to any other collector’s needs.

Have fun,




  1. A Mountain Theme (471.5 KiB)
    Mountain Farm

John Staehle

I have a fully equipped shop for the purpose of creating military diorama scenes as well as free-standing models. Additional projects include small modular railroad section construction.
  • George Collazo

    Beautiful work John and very informative. Let me quite you:

    ”The details can be simple or as complex as you wish but start out small so you don’t get discouraged.”

    Nothing but the truth. I bit too big and then had a hard disappointing time chewing. Thanks a lot for sharing this.