A friend of mine, Stephen Reynolds, and I only see each other occasionally but when we do get together the topic of discussion is always trains. Stephen is a fellow O-scale modeller and we know each other from the “unenlightened” days of our involvement in HO and the building of a couple of large club layouts. I don’t know if Stephen has ever noticed but one of the constants of our sometimes long discussions about modelling is the US modeller George Sellios. I’ve known Stephen for going on 20 years but I would guess that rarely does a conversation between us happen where George Sellio’s name doesn’t crop up. A know a lot of US modellers nominate John Allen as a seminal influence but I say that for me, and probably Stephen, the prize for “major influence” goes to George Sellios.
Stephen has been responsible for a number of developments in my modelling, not the least of which is that he taught me how to “do” scenery. This happened about 15 years ago when I managed to get him to do some work on a HO layout I was working on. Most of the techniques he used at the time have long been consigned to the “old hat” bin, mostly by him, however what I learned from him was something far more important: he taught me to experiment and try new materials and to never consider scenery as “finished”. Scenery is like any other element of modelling: it is subject to upgrade and change. If something in the scene no longer appeals then change it! Rip it out and start over!
Stephen is also someone who has provided me with a couple of good phrases that I apply to my modelling. One of my favourites describes the stage after all the “hard” scenery is laid in and the colouring of the landscape is complete. He calls this “shrubbing up”: it obviously describes installing the greenery but I always had a somewhat Pythonesque quality that I liked. A couple of years ago we were having conversation about something I was doing and after I’d described it he said I’d given it a “little bit of George”. I knew exactly what he meant by this, George Sellios being such a big influence on us and being such a constant topic of conversation between us. What this meant is a style of modelling and filling a scene with life; people, details and (most of all) signs.
I thought of George and Stephen this afternoon as I sat and looked at the result of my efforts to apply a large sign onto the side of a small building I’ve been working on. The building started out as a Downtown Deco O-scale kit called Archie’s Place. It’s a kit I’ve had sitting in the cupboard for a few years and it fitted the small triangular space I had available. It was a good start but I needed to Australianize it a bit. This process consists of a kerd-side awning, a peaked corrugated roof and a large Aussie sign on the side of the building. I had originally wanted to apply an Arnott’s biscuit sign – you can’t get much more Aussie than that – but it seemed a little on the small side so instead I turned to the largest decal I had on hand. This was a Rosella Tomato Sauce sign from Broad Gauge Bodies. On its own this still wasn’t quite big enough but I sprayed on a square of white paint and then trimmed this with a red line. The decal was cut up and applied to this and then I gave everything an overspray of Dullcoat. I’m quite happy with the result and this is my small tribute to George Sellios and Stephen although I have quite a way to go to equal the builder of the Franklin and South Manchester.