While I was in Switzerland for the mountain cartography workshop in Lenk this February, Tom Patterson arranged a visit with Toni Mair, an outstanding relief model artist working near Zürich. We met Toni at the train station and he drove us up to his house where we had tea and met his gracious wife Myrtha. Afterwards, we toured Toni’s atelier or artist studio where several completed and under-construction models were on display. Stefan Räber from ETH-Zürich has an article (PDF) on Toni and his technique that I’ll summarize inline with my photos after the jump.
Toni Mair has been creating sculptural, three-dimensional alpine landscape representations since 1972 (that’s over 35 years) and his talent shows. In fact, Toni is one of the only traditional artist still creating these models by hand. His first attempt was the Rafzerfeld while he was a high school geography teacher in Zug. He made models on the side during that time and after retirement in 2002 relief modeling became his full time job. Toni learned his time-honored craft from über model maker and eminent cartographer, Eduard Imhof.
There has been a resurgence in this field recently with automated, CAD-assisted solid terrain modeling that is capable but course in its ability to capture fine landscape detail or rock overhangs and suffers from fuzzy ink-jet printing.
Toni Mair has created dozens (list) of intricately detailed, large-scale, 1:1 vertical z-scaling models painted with the land cover, rock, ice, glaciers, forest textures, waterfalls, roads, tracks, town buildings, church spires, ski gondolas, mountain huts, and climbing routes. Besides the detailed painting, accurately carved rock textures best exemplify Toni’s unique talents. His work is displayed in museums and private collections around the world.
There are 10+ more photos and captions. Click the “Read more…” link below Photo 1 to continue.
Photo 1. Toni Mair showing off one of his terrain models in his studio (mountains around the village Engelberg in Central Switzerland, more details in Photo 9 past the jump).