Miniatures & More located in Edmonds, WA, is has the iconic room box of “Titanic” shipbuilder Thomas Andrews stateroom, which includes a palm size museum scale “Titanic” on display at the store. This roombox was built by Brian Siler of Edmonds, WA. The “Titanic” is just over 4 ½” long and an EXACT replica of the famous ship.
Miniatures & More
610 5th Ave S – Ste D
Edmonds, WA 98020
Under Hamburger Harry’s & across the street from Ace Hardware – off Hoffman
The door to the stateroom is ajar, so you take the opportunity to peek in. The sumptuously decorated first-class suite shows sign that the occupant only recently left and will probably be back soon. But there’s time for a quick snoop!
A welcoming glow emanates from the electric fireplace and, even with a couch and two chairs, the only place to sit is on the chairs as the couch is covered with blueprints, books, and new plans. A hot cup of tea with lemon sits on the table along with a pristine model of “RMS Titanic”. A tiny part of you visualizes Jack Dawson on the tiny prow yelling, “I’m the king of the world!”
But if Jack were on the prow, he would only be the size of a speck of dust because the stateroom you’ve been exploring is actually a 1:12-scale room box designed by Brian P. Siler of Edmonds. And the “Titanic” model? It’s only a tad over 4 ½” long!
Brain Siler, as an architectural modeler, has been tiptoeing around dollhouse miniatures for years. With this one-of-a-kind “Titanic” he’s diving right in.
Brain, previously did business as Emerald City Modelworks in North Seattle. Examples of earlier projects can be seen throughout his house including his 1:48-scale Fender guitar and various samples of his officially licensed models of Seattle’s icon, the Space Needle.
His career as an architectural model maker has included making models for a CBS movie of the week, a Disney playground on the beach, and various technical prototypes.
But it was Brian’s long time love of anything to do with ocean liners that prompted the “Titanic” room box, which took, in intermittent steps, six years to accomplish. It started with a personal challenge to make as accurate a “Titanic” model as small as he could.
The model “Titanic” is merely 4.6” long – just over the length of a politically incorrect cigarette. Brian says, “It is based upon accurately scaled reproductions of actual blueprints and drawings related to the construction of the actual ship.” He carefully researched and studied drawings, photographs, and renderings. “Extreme care has been taken to ensure that the profile of the ship, deck layouts, and other structural details strictly adhere to the original designs.” Brain adds. You can actually read “Titanic” on the bow and stern.
A variety of materials were used in the model. The hull is made of RenShape – a composite material used mainly in the prototyping industries. Also used were variously dimensioned styrene strips and sheets and custom photo-etched pieces. Brian used PhotoShop to create many parts, including the Union Jack at the stern, the parquet flooring, Oriental rug, blueprints, and photos.
“As with model-making generally in any scale, some details are slightly exaggerated so they appear at all.” Brian says. Examples include the hull-plating bands, which are representational. The decking has an exaggerated planking pattern for visual interest. “If scales were strictly adhered to here, individual planks would be narrower than the width of human hairs and thus not readable, or visible at all,” he explains. All major portholes are portrayed to within 95% accuracy.
To give you an idea on how minute some pieces become at this scale, the four funnels are merely the size of grains of rice. Every one of the park-like benches on the “Titanic” is accurately represented in the form of small, rectangular brown specks set about the ship model. All 16 lifeboats appear on the model; they’re about the size of sesame seeds. All the rigging is made of synthetic human hair because it isn’t greatly affected by changes in temperature and humidity.
A model of “Titanic” in “museum scale” (1” = 16’) would be just over 4 ½” long. “Dollhouse” scale is 1:12, so a “dollhouse-scale” model of a “museum-scale model of “Titanic” , with 1” = 192’ would be just over 4.6” long. “That’s the scale of my “Titanic” miniature, which makes it suitable for effective display in a room-box setting.” Brain says.
Originally, Brian intended to display the “Titanic” model in a simple case with a mirrored back. Then one thing led to another, eventually to the idea of placing it in a room box depicting shipbuilder Thomas Andrews’ stateroom. In reality, the room was rather boring, with plain white walls and a fold-down berth. Brain decided that if movie director James Cameron could take liberties with the appearance of the actual stateroom (which he certainly did) then so could he. “In addition, there is no reason to believe there was a builder’s model on “Titanic” ,” says Brian, “but if such a model had been on “Titanic” , this is how it would have looked.”
Contents of the stateroom fall into three categories. There are stock items such as the couch and chairs (Bespaq), mantel floral arrangement, books, table (Bespaq), table lamp, and sconces. Then there are items which Brian has modified – the most important being the customization of the fireplace. The electric heater box, foot rail, marble lining, and finials are all his.
But it is the items created out of what he called his “jay’s nest” that will intrigue fellow miniaturists. Brain’s stash comes from dollhouse and model shops, electronics stores, and craft shops including Joann’s. It is the innovative use of ordinary materials that places Brian firmly in our world of dollhouse miniatures.
Have a closer look at the table where the “Titanic” model sites. The candlestick telephone is made from several disparate parts. The base is a metal-brad type of jewelry finding used in scrap booking. The candlestick section is a length of 1/8”-diameter tubing with a cylinder bead at the base. At the top of the candlestick column, Brian used a pierced-earring back. The back of the mouthpiece is a female section of an ordinary clothing snap and the mouthpiece is a plated, turned dollhouse goblet with the stem removed. The earpiece is a tuned-brass capstan from a model ship. Once assembled, Brian painted the phone parts black where necessary. It should be noted that the placement of the candlestick phone in this cabin is a case of artistic license – the ship had telephones, but not in individual staterooms.
The reading glasses on the table were constructed by shaping .020”-diameter brass wire with lenses made of a model train window-glazing medium. The white and yellow pencils were made sharpened and painted .030”-diameter styrene rod. Brain admits that, “the yellow “Ticonderoga” pencil with the green-metallic eraser housing didn’t come on to the scene until 1913 (one year after the “Titanic” sinking) nevertheless, I wanted to include it because it was so recognizable.”44One of Brian’s favorite pieces on the table is the compass-like dividers, which he made of shaped styrene strip stock with a tension ring made of an electronic component and an adjusting knob made of a watch gear.
Elsewhere on or near the table, the coat hook is bent .030”-diameter brass rod attached to a drilled plate of thin brass sheet stock. The handle of the magnifying glass is a turned brass stanchion (another model ship part), rounded at the end. And its round lens holder was originally a gold plated ring that divided the two halves of a fountain pen. The potted palm leaves are hand-cut paper stock on wire stems in a faux-marble painted turned wooden part found at a crafts store.
Other items made from scratch are the wooden drafting rule, drafting triangles, slide rule, and miscellaneous mechanical parts on the corner of the table. Showing his versatility, Brian also made the tea with a lemon slice and spoon.
Brian used his computer and Adobe Photoshop software to create various blueprints and drawings throughout the cabin. He developed a technique where he could accomplish these accurately in dollhouse scale. He also created miniaturized pages of Andrew’s notes, authentic black and white photos, and stamped envelopes and postcards.
Brain has many hidden Easter Eggs in the room-box, as well as many different ways the “Titanic” is represented besides the model. The “Titanic” is represented in the actual blueprints from the “Titanic”, the actual photographs, the painting above the fireplace, the bellows in the back left corner showing the exact placement they would be on the picture behind them, as well as the ship model. Other Easter eggs include how ship builder Thomas Andrews bookmarked where he was reading with postcards (these are from 1912); the picture on the fireplace mantel is of Andrew, his wife, and their young son; the blueprint with red sitting on the couch is depicting where Andrews was redesigning parts of the “Titanic” to include more staterooms; his choice of cigars are depicted in the box of Cubin’s as well as in the ashtray near his chair and on the desk. If you pay attention to the blueprint on the table the end leaning over the edge is the end of the Titanic that sank first.
There is no reason to believe there ever was a builder’s model on “Titanic”, says Brian, “but if such a model had been on “Titanic” , this is how it should have looked – even though it never was.” He adds, “But then, neither Jack nor Rose in the film ever were either.”
“I have actually received criticism for the admitted historical inaccuracies of the stateroom, while those same purists failed to note that such a model was not on “Titanic” in the first place!” he says. “So much for missing the point!”