Located in the beautiful countryside of Southern England, UK, Kris Gee of Chrome Lotus Studios handcrafts breathtaking dioramas for model horses. Since 2002, she has been producing the dioramas for model horse enthusiasts around the world. But don’t let this two year span of experience fool you! Kris has always had a deep fascination with model scenery, and started messing around with making dioramas as a young child. From that point, she discovered her love for the art and pursued it further in art college.
Kris was first involved in the model horse hobby around 15 years ago. After a long break, she returned to the hobby and was immediately drawn to the performance side of it. “I’ve always enjoyed making dioramas. It seemed like a natural step to start producing them for the model horse hobby,” Kris says. The Arabian costume classes really motivated and inspired her to make unique and innovative setups. “It’s always fun to try and surprise the model horse show judges with a new and exciting design, as well as surpass myself with my own setups at each show!” Kris exclaimed.
Her dioramas mostly consist of Arabic themes. Kris enlightened us as to why the Arabian theme was her favorite by saying, “I love this wonderful region of the world and the subject possibilities are endless. From oases, deserts and beaches to unique buildings, tombs and pyramids; the Arabic world is packed full of lush, exquisite scenery and mystical beauty!” She does occasionally create alternative scenes such as Western trail scenes for a bit of a change. Kris adds, “I must say, on a grey, rainy British winter’s day, there is nothing like allowing your mind to drift away and dream of tropical beaches and far away warm, sunny places! Creating dioramas gives me an opportunity to escape into the beautiful paradises and idyllic dream locations. I find it most satisfying and relaxing!”
Model horse dioramas are mainly used as display pieces for model horse performance classes at live shows, photography props, and for home and curio cabinet display. Owners of Kris' model horse dioramas have also received awards in model Arabian costume classes. Each performance setup is judged on accuracy, authenticity of the tack, how well the tack fits the horse, the rider or handlers position in the scene and the overall impression given by the scene and thought that went into it. Everything in a diorama is crafted and painted by hand, including all the trees! Scarabs and other small ornaments are sometimes added to Egyptian tomb scenes.
Are you interested in trying to create your own diorama? Anyone can try their hands at diorama making. And according to Kris Gee, it’s a great deal of fun. Materials can be found at most hobby and model train stores. Advanced diorama making takes dedication, practice, and experimentation to take the art form to a higher level. It is extremely important for beginners to familiarize themselves with safety measures and procedures before undertaking any sort of scenery making. A good way to begin is by reading a lot of Scenery and Diorama Instructional Books. This is sure to give you a start.
Want to try something basic to begin with? Purchase a base no longer than about 6 inches by 2-1/2 inches, made of wood an eighth of an inch thick. Texture for diorama scenery can be obtained with a variety of artificial grasses and sands sold in model railroad and hobby stores. You can also use sawdust or wood chips and, if you like, real earth, and maybe even a small stone or two. There are a great variety of adhesives that may be used to hold the scenery in place; clear varnish, wood glue, model airplane cement, or any of the hundreds of commercial adhesives that are on the market. To fasten the scenic material to the base, paint a heavy coat of adhesive over the base and then sprinkle the material on the adhesive and allow to dry; after this, it is only a matter of painting the scenery, which you can read about more in detail in books.
If trying your hand at creating your own artwork sounds a bit too difficult, Chrome Lotus Studios offers custom orders periodically by way of lottery on its Yahoo Group and sometimes offers an occasional surprise diorama up for sale or auction. Kris also tries to donate several dioramas every year to live show benefit auctions and other good causes. With the great deal of time and effort she puts into each diorama, she only offers 8-15 model horse dioramas per year. She’ll only consider them done after they reach a standard that she is pleased with.
Diorama cost varies depending on scale. An extensive 1/9 scale model horse diorama can cost anything up to $550. Is it worth it? Whether you are receiving the award for a winning model horse display at a live show or you offer it as a display in a curio cabinet of your home, you are sure to feel your own diorama is a priceless possession.