The Craftsmanship Museum: Model citizens - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

WEDNESDAY, July 14, 2010

The Craftsmanship Museum: Model citizens

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VISTA, Calif. (CBS 8) - It's a small world for a tiny group of craftsmen who have dedicated a large portion of their lives to thinking big.

"Our interests go toward the miniature end of craftsmanship, which is what we kind of feature here in the museum," director Craig Libuse said.

The Craftsmanship Museum in Vista features mind-boggling display of working miniatures, each painstakingly assembled from scratch.

"Each project was built by one person. That's kind of what makes them an artist. These are not manufactured products that come off an assembly line. Pretty much people have devoted a lot of their life to making these things one piece at a time.

"The commonality is they all work. These are real engines. They are not model engines, they are miniature engines," Craig said.

These skilled craftsmen can turn a chunk of metal into a miniature 327 Corvette engine.

"It will run 18,000 rpm," Craig said. "We have everything from that to very small diesel engines that fit on a quarter.

The most impressive miniature at the Craftsmanship Museum is a three-year project of a Honolulu dentist.

"He decided he wanted to make an entire airplane out of aluminum. He went to Home Depot and bought a roll of roof lashing material and started making parts one at a time.

"This is an exact representation of a P-51 with the skin removed on one side, down to the 50-calibur shells loaded into the breaches of the machine gun. As far as I know, nobody has ever done anything like that," Craig said.

To excel at this craft, you have to have a lot of skill, a lot of patience and a lot of time. This isn't just a good old boy's club. A working replica of an 1876 Gattling gun was built by a craftswoman. Still, this is not a hobby for the faint of heart.

"It's limited to a group of people who have pretty good skills," Craig said.

If you'd like to see these skills on display, the Craftsmanship Museum is open Monday through Friday and admission is free. If you'd like to try your hand at building, all it takes is a chunk of metal, a vision and nothing else to do for the next few years.

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