The train whistles, the speaker announces the departure from the loudspeaker and the train, full of passengers, departs for its destination. This is not a scene that takes place at the railway station of Thessaloniki, but at the microcosm of Dimitris Stefanidis.
Dimitris, a decorator by profession, managed to squeeze an entire city into just seven square meters with the help of modeling, which is his hobby.
He actually turned his room into a large model, in which he captured his love for trains and his talent in construction. “Five years ago, I was passing by a model shop and buying wagons and rails for the first time. So I started setting up what I had in mind. I chose the train because it has traffic, it brings out a liveliness, it travels you. And I often travel with this medium” he says.
60 meters of rail tracks
Dimitris started setting up his model in 2004 and his profession helped him in this. Every day he adds more and more things.
There are now 60 meters of railroad tracks on the site, on which 17 machines, 30 passenger cars and 100 commercial wagons have been placed, which have been procured from Thessaloniki and from stores abroad – mainly in Germany. “Apart from the rolling stock, I have set up mountains with 200 trees, roads, tunnels, moving and stationary cars – but also people, because I wanted it to look like a normal city. I used materials such as plaster, wood, styrofoam and cardboard.”
The system’s brain is located in the central station, from where, at the touch of a button, Dimitris can turn on the trains, turn on the lights or turn the scissors. “I often play the role of the driver and I try to make combinations that give movement to the model. From what I’ve done so far, I’ve been more challenged by the car system, as I’ve tried to build an underground highway.”
Emphasis on detail
What makes Dimitris’ work even more impressive is the attention to detail: from the benches he has placed in places on the model and the people waiting at the bus stop, to the lighting poles and trash cans. “In order to do a good job, you have to insist on the smallest detail, be very organized and have all your materials in order”, he notes.
As one can easily understand from the first moment he sees Dimitris’ model, countless hours of work have been required to reach the level it is today. “I was burning the midnight oil at first” he says with a laugh. “I remember one day I started working at 7 in the afternoon and when I looked at the clock it was 6 in the morning.” In fact, his friends, jokingly, often tell him that the model “sees him” more than them. “Sometimes they get angry, but they usually come here and help me as well. It’s a pleasure to be able to teach others some things.” He clarified, however, that “so far I have allowed the model to be touched only by people who know how to handle it. We don’t want any accidents to happen…”
An expensive hobby
As Dimitris mentions, organization and hard work are not the only qualifications required to engage in modeling.
An important condition is to be determined to afford enough money, as it is quite an expensive hobby. A train machine can cost more than 300 euros, while the average price of a wagon starts at 30 euros. Add to this the cost of materials that will be needed to make the model. “The price of a model ranges from 1,000 to 15,000 euros. It depends on what you want to place on it. However, stores with such items in Greece have better prices than abroad. “
When asked if he would like to turn his hobby into a profession, he replies in emphasis: “You often get bored with your job and I would never want that to happen to me with modeling. That’s why I keep it as a hobby and I still love it. After all, in Greece there is no field for you to develop such an activity on a professional level “.