Barry Biediger - Box #3: Step by Step

By Jim DeRogatis

It may seem unusual for someone to write another artist’s “Step by Step” article, but my pal Barry Biediger is sometimes too self-effacing about his own work to share the in-progress stuff, and writing comes a lot more easily to me than it does to him (he prefers less front-and-center work, like keeping this site running and making it look so good!). So bear in mind that the following comments are mine, not his, and it’s my take on his piece, which I admire enormously.

To me, the enigmatically entitled “Box #3” is all about creating a mood, and in that sense, and to some degree in the time period, it very much recalls the work of the great American painter Edward Hopper, best known for his immortal “Nighthawks” diner scene of 1942, on display here in Chicago at the Art Institute. I think you’ll see what I mean better in the other two paintings above, “Railroad Sunset” and “Automat.”


arry took the photos above of his sculpt in progress and sent them to me along the way, as we often do for one another. (It always helps to get another pair of eyes on your work! And for it to be someone else more or less at your own level, rather than a master like Joe Berton or Shep Paine.) We’ve both come to the conclusion that the more time spent on posing and perfecting the “nude” before adding the clothing, the better the final sculpt. (Learned the hard way, believe us!) I think he did a fantastic job with the woman in this box.

Here are the outer box and the street lamp in progress. I always am very impressed with the compact nature of Barry’s box dioramas (so easy to carry! and not a millimeter of wasted space!), as well as by the neat and meticulous nature of all of his sculpting and modeling. I am a much more, um, impressionistic modeler and sculptor. I wish I was as precise as he is!

Barry tests the framing of the scene and the effect of the light.


The pictures from here on I took when Barry disassembled the box at my request on my dining room table, prior to showing him debuting it in public at the MMSI Chicago show in October 2014. I like the way he builds the reveal right onto the back of his simple front window/frame, which he painted with a Krylon spray that gives a great gloss finish but which sadly scratches when you just look at it wrong.

In lieu of velvet fabric for this box, Barry “faded to black” with black velvet paper sold for scrapbooking purposes. I’ve since tried it myself, and it’s much, much easier to work with than the actual fabric, while accomplishing the same thing!

Here are a few looks at the inner tray containing the scene.

And here a few glimpses of the electronics, which allow him to charge the box off the USB in his laptop. The guy is a genius, I’m telling ya!