2020 SMMC - held online for the first time ever!


When our biannual conference was postponed due to concerns about the COVID-19 pandemic, we lost our usual opportunity to enjoy the APMM’s Student Model Making Competition.

 As a senior lecturer at Arts University Bournemouth, I was disappointed that this competition and the usual New Blades event will not take place in 2020.

 As the APMM’s VP for Education, I wanted to offer a way to mitigate some of the frustrations that students/graduates face during the pandemic…

Our association aims to 'foster alliance between educational institutions and model making businesses'. A student model making competition is one of the ways that we aid networking between graduates and potential employers. This year, our competition has been a way to compensate for some of the difficulties caused by lockdown measures and social distancing.

Though regretful, the cancellation of these events is understandable given the risks of the COVID-19 pandemic. Instagram offers a perfect alternative to a 'real world’ event by connecting students and professionals safely online.

The APMM's student model making competition is named for Art Hedlund. Professor Hedlund began the model making program at Bemidji State University during the late 1980's. The Bemidji program always kept a 'real world mindset', remembering that it is important to consider the 'use' for the model and the needs of the client.

Students were asked to enter the competition by posting images of their models to their Instagram profiles, using the hashtag #APMMawards. They were also asked to tag the institution at which they are enrolled, so that we could, if it was felt to be necessary, verify that they were enrolled in a program with a strong model making focus.

The competition opened for entries on June 1, 2020. Judges shortlisted the entries during  the month of June and, after much debate, the winners were announced on July 4. Prizes were awarded for the 3 best submissions, the overall winner receiving $300, a certificate to show off in their portfolio and free registration for the next conference.

Generally, at a 'real world' conference we would expect 15-20 entries. The online competition received 171 entries… from 12 institutions… in 4 countries.

1st place was awarded to Chris Bradbury, of Arts University Bournemouth, UK.


His 2:1 scale model of a DeVillbis spray gun was highly regarded by all of the judges for its professional standard of finish, and the complexity and variety of the techniques used to make it. One of the judges commented, "This model was a powerful teaching and sales tool, on top of being a fantastic example of precision work and attention to detail. I only wish I’d been able to experience it in real life." Chris congratulated others too… "Well done to those that got an honourable mention, everyone's work looked fantastic!" See more of Chris's work at www.instagram.com/chris.bradbury_modelmaker

In 2nd place was Tom Beardwell, for his 15:1 model of a European Cave Spider. Tom, a student of University of Hertfordshire, UK.


Judges remarked, "Here is a model that demonstrates how great planning results in a great model. What makes this one excellent is the artistic skills employed in the final finish." See more of Tom’s work at https://www.tombeardwellsculptures.co.uk/, and follow him on Instagram at www.instagram.com/tom_beardwell

3rd place went to Yudit Lee, again from Arts University Bournemouth, UK, for her 1:1 model of the Lifeport Kidney Transport Device. 



The complexity of the model, and how well the making process was documented impressed the judges. They were  "…impressed with how the many complicated components were brought together to make this beautifully executed model, and how well the process was documented." When we announced this prize, Yudit commented "Thank you so, so much this means a lot…". You can see more of Yudit’s model making at www.instagram.com/hwalynn_artandmodel

The judges were impressed with how well the best of the entries were presented. Quality of photography, clarity of the descriptions and how well the 'story' of the work was told made a good impression with them.

Due to the high number of entries, we decided to give some honourable mentions in addition to the three winners. These included a large scale Swiss army knife and a 12:1 Tarantula Hawk Moth. Other entries included a 2/3 scale model of the classic Valentine typewriter, models of famous chairs by Charles and Ray Eames, and a Tyrannosaurus taking a bath in a cup of tea; the Tea Rex! These honourable mentions can all be enjoyed at www.instagram.com/modelmakersorg


What did we learn from running the competition online for the first time? We know that we can attract a lot more entries to the competition if there is no requirement to bring a model to a 'real world' conference. Opening the competition to all students, rather than just members, encouraged many more entries and certainly more engagement with our Instagram account. By studying each others posts, students can see how to make the best impression with their work. The quality of photography, concise and clear descriptions, and an idea of the story behind the model, all help. In addition to looking at the quality of the model making, judges took presentation into account too, since it is so important when looking for work.

Feedback from model making students, during the competition and after, has been overwhelmingly positive. Students were glad to have an extra opportunity to show their work this year. Overall winner, Chris Bradbury commented "Thank you again to @modelmakersorg for organising this for all the model making graduates, and for giving us the opportunity to promote/show off our work, we all appreciate it."

Many are already asking when the next competition will take place. We intend to run the Student Model Making Competition again at the time of the virtual conference in March 2021. Next time, perhaps, with different categories to encourage younger model makers as well as more experienced undergraduate students.

You can still see all of the 2020 entries, on Instagram, by searching for #APMMawards. By following #APMMawards, you will be first to know about the 2021 competition. While you are there, why not follow us (@modelmakersorg) to keep up to date with news about the association.


Will Strange - @willstrange
Senior Lecturer - AUB - @aubmodelmaking
VP for Education - APMM - @modelmakersorg

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