The Family Legacy Found in a Diorama

There’s something special about an inherited interest.  It’s what connects us to the past and loved ones who have gone on before us.  For Wayne Heidel of Clemmons and drummer for the band, Hawthorne Curve, it’s through the art of dioramas that he’s found a shared and common bond with his late-grandfather, Malcolm Hill.

“My grandfather was a Marine who served in the Korean War,” Wayne said.  “From his military background, Grandpa Hill developed a tremendous capacity for detail and when it came to putting together miniatures, he was incredibly meticulous and methodical.”


The Nativity Diorama is a German-esque style. 1:12 ratio.


Wayne developed an interest in his grandfather’s hobby after inheriting a miniature gazebo that his grandfather made.  “Grandpa had designed and built this gazebo as a prototype for a full-scale model he wanted to put on his land.  Unfortunately, he never got a chance to build it, but I recently took the gazebo and built a model for it – completing what my grandfather envisioned, but on a much, much smaller scale.”

When Wayne isn’t playing the drums (his first love!), you can most likely find him in the workshop corner of his garage, meticulously working on various miniature projects.  “I’ve discovered a love for building these dioramas and I find it relaxing to spend time in the garage, listening to music, and putting together ideas.  I’ve made several Nativity sets, an Easter tomb, a scene from MASH (which was an ode to my dad), and recently, my wife gave me a challenge – to create a miniature church.  With the exception of one tree, that diorama is entirely hand-made from the individual shingles on the roof to the stained glass windows.”


The Church Diorama is named after Wayne’s grandmother-in-law, Bethel Henderson, and designed after a variety of traditional country churches. 1:48 ratio.


Almost everything Wayne builds is from scratch.  “I don’t work from kits and I scale everything to a specific ratio, depending on the project.  For instance, a 1:48 ratio project means that one quarter inch of work would represent one foot in real life.  I make most everything with the exception of the martini glasses I needed for the MASH diorama and the occasional tree, but in some cases, I make those, too.  I frequently use wood, foam, clay, or other materials to shape what I need.  One of the more outside-the-box materials I’ve used was a paper towel that I spray painted – I found it made a great cot for my MASH diorama.”


Grandpa’s Gazebo is a miniature scale based on the vision Grandpa Hill had for a full-sized gazebo on his pond. 1:48 ratio.


This is purely a hobby and Wayne has no interest in selling his work.  “I’ve been asked, but this is something for fun.  Each project is based on my mood and in the moment.  I enjoy the creative outlet and don’t want to force it…. Plus, I have too many ideas for new projects to spend time duplicating things I’ve already made.

“I love that I can remember Grandpa Hill this way.  I know he would be proud of the projects I’ve completed and if he were still alive, I know we would have a lot of great discussion around them.”


The MASH Diorama is based on key elements from the TV show and the idea of packing up and going home from war. 1:15 ratio.



While he’s not interested in selling his pieces, Wayne is always eager to share his completed work.  As he completes them, he takes pictures and sets them to music which he uploads to YouTube to display his finished creation (



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