“Everyone always asks where the nuns go,” he said. Like all good hobbies, modeling takes skill and creativity. Tiny green “grass” fibers, for example, are made to stand upright by sending small electric shocks into the glue in which they are placed. It also requires the ability to procrastinate real-life demands.

“When we bought our townhouse, I told my wife it would be a 30 year renovation project. That was 16 years ago. In terms of progress, I’m about two years away.

In photographs of his work, which he posts on Instagram (@restocarp) and Twitter, but more so in person, there is something of a fantastic effect in the seemingly incredibly miniature size and detail of his work. Normally, of course, a person cannot hold a block or a street corner in their hand and turn it over for further examination.

“There’s a hyper-realistic quality that captures people’s imaginations,” Hankins says. “They’re starting to consider some details that they didn’t have before.”

In December, Hankins plans to display some of his historically informed work as part of a much larger train garden at TownMall in Westminster, according to Maryland Christmas tradition. He would also like to exhibit his work in a place like the Baltimore Museum of Industry at some point. Meanwhile, he jokes, all of his models inevitably remain a work in progress, always available for DIY and add-ons.

“The only thing that was never completely finished was a model train garden that my father – who taught woodworking in St. Paul’s – and that I did together as a kid. We finally had trains running one Christmas, ”Hankins recalls. “It was really cool. Integrated in a coffee table, works perfectly. Then our cats climbed underneath and ate the exposed wiring. “