Small Talk Tag: Inspiration

At the Crossroads of Big and Small

Lucas, Kansas

A little museum of big things made little? It may sound like a riddle, but that’s exactly what visitors to the World’s Largest Collection of the World’s Smallest Versions of the World’s Largest Things will see. The Jeep-turned-museum showcases America’s roadside wonders like the World’s Largest Ball of Twine, World’s Largest Yo-Yo (one of our favorites), and many, many more cleverly replicated in miniature for a one-stop viewing experience.

The mobile museum was created by artist Erika Nelson, who travels the country both exhibiting her small landmarks, while also scoping out large ones for miniaturization. Even while it’s on the road, a portion of the quirky museum (which, by the way, has its own theme song) is permanently stationed in even quirkier Lucas, Kansas, the “Grassroots Art Capital” of the state. It is probably not a coincidence that Lucas is also home to the world’s largest souvenir travel plate!
Photo: Erika Nelson, The World’s Largest Collection of the World’s Smallest Versions of the World’s Largest Things.

Pedal Up to Nebraska

Museum of American Speed

Pedal to the Metal: Pedal Cars and American Car Culture is racing to the finish line; the exhibit closes August 28, 2016. If you hustle to T/m before then, you can see several cars from the collection of the Speedway Motors Museum of American Speed. If not, you may be able to catch the 1937 Ford Deluxe, 1930 Steelcraft Chrysler, 1953 Torpedo, 1950 Mercedes Benz 190SL, 1965 Ford Mustang, 1950 Tri-ang Flying Squad Police Cruiser, 1960 Deluxe “Flat Face” Fire Truck, or 1967 Skipper Run-a-Bout on view in Lincoln, Nebraska.

The 135,000 square foot museum was founded in 1992 by “Speedy” Bill and Joyce Smith to preserve, interpret, and display items significant in racing and automotive history. Pedal cars are just the starting line of their extensive collection of vehicles (early dirt- and board-track racecars, midget cars, Indy cars, street rods, and restored classics). And for those of you who fondly remember Soap Box Derby, they’ve got a great collection of those too!
Photo: Antigone Jackson, Speedway Motors Museum of American Speed.

Risking it All

Game of Risk

How many board games let you “travel the world” without leaving your dining room table? Well, there are a few… but not many of them let you conquer it! Originally called La Conquête du Monde (The Conquest of the World) by inventor and French film director Albert Lamorisse in 1957, the board game was brought to American audiences in 1959 as Risk!. The game of Risk’s iconic design consists of a rainbow of army game pieces and a board with fictitious territories (fun fact: real-life Afghanistan is not actually within the boundaries of the game board Afghanistan!).

Although it’s been through many modifications, the general game play has remained the same over the last 57 years. Players take turns rolling dice in order to defeat other players’ armies and effectively take over each territory on the board. Attackers in the game get three dice rolls, while defenders get only two. For very serious game players (we don’t recommend taking board games too seriously), the ability to strategize based on statistical analysis can provide a leg up, similar to playing chess.
Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

A Trip to the Moon

Moon Marble

In honor of Marble Day today we thought we’d roll with one of our good friends and favorite local toy businesses, Moon Marble Company (as well as fit in as many marble puns as possible). Named one of the 8 Wonders of Kansas Commerce, Moon Marble is the only store in the country where you can buy toy marbles and handmade, art marbles, and watch them being made! No, we haven’t lost our marbles. At Moon Marble, you can marble at artisan and owner Bruce Breslow turning molten glass into a ball of fun while he shares his knowledge in glass working and marble history. Talk about multi-tasking!

Since 1997, Breslow has knuckled down making approximately a thousand marbles a year. And don’t take his works of art from granite; his handmade marbles sell for $20 to $250. We’re not fudging! But if you’re in the mood to play for keepsies, Moon Marble also offers machine-made version for as little as ten cents.
Photo: Moon Marble Company.

Visit Beautiful Elgin Park

Elgin Park

Part of the allure of miniatures is that they give us the opportunity to create entire worlds in a small amount of space. For Michael Paul Smith, that corner of the world is Elgin Park, a fictional city based on mid-twentieth-century small-town America. Inspired by painful childhood experiences, Elgin Park is a utopian place that allows Smith’s creativity to flourish. At first glance, Elgin Park may seem a bit like Mayberry, but a closer look will reveal some of its mysterious secrets.

Using skills he learned by being an architectural model maker (and other numerous jobs), Smith constructs 1:24 scale buildings, houses, and streetscapes that appear realistically worn and weathered. These miniature scenes are outfitted with appropriately scaled die cast vintage cars. In order to achieve the realistic background in the photos of Elgin Park, the miniature scenes are photographed outside against the (full-scale) horizon, a technique called forced perspective photography. Over the last few years, Smith unexpectedly gained international attention after his Flickr page began receiving millions of hits, which eventually prompted him to publish a book of his photography.
Photo: Studio Back Lot, Michael Paul Smith.

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