Miniature sculpture convention comes to Chicago

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Every three years people traverse the globe for the World Model Expo?one of the biggest shows celebrating sculptures as small as your thumb. (WLS)

Every three years people traverse the globe for the World Model Expo-one of the biggest shows celebrating sculptures as small as your thumb.

Stretching across time-even bending reality, these are therapeutic pieces of art for Sandra Kinsley.

"All that stuff that's cloud in your head just disappears and the only thing you think about is the color and the paintbrush and where you're going to place it," Kinsley explained.

Focus is key, since Kinsley and fellow enthusiasts hand-paint every color detail-down to the wrinkles on a figure's forehead.

The triennial expo features many sculptures-created by hundreds of artists from multiple continents.

Seasoned modelers, like expo organizer Dan Tisoncik, take on bigger challenges: to-scale dioramas from scratch.

Tisoncik brought a representation of Marines at Guadacanal. There appears to be a real puddle of water, sand, and suffering corpses.

Tisoncik says his favorite part of building one of these is the vision.

"Coming up with the idea, coming up with the engineering aspects of it. How are you going to design it, how are you going to build it," he said.

Something like this piece requires more than a steady paint brush. Every twisted body and tormented face was designed, sculpted and ultimately painted by Tisoncik.

Christopher Zavisa is fairly new to the hobby. He combined original work, like an "entire outdoor patio," with a recognizable character: "Gandalf the wizard coming into town," he points out in the model village.

These projects can take months, even years to complete.

And that passion has created a warm community leading to new friendships and ideas.

"Everybody has some kind of knowledge that they can impart to somebody else. And it's just fabulous because everybody's willing to teach you," Kinsley added.

Curious yet? With more than a thousand pieces on display at the Hilton Chicago through Saturday, it's an epicenter of art worth a closer look.

The exhibits are open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday. Tickets are $10 for general public. Kids under 12 and service members with ID can come for free.

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