For Ric Facchin, making a living immortalizing Manchester’s most important buildings and storefronts in miniature sculptures wasn’t always on the cards.
Ric, from Prestwich, had originally worked in recruitment but, when the 2020 lockdown hit, he found himself stuck at home and in desperate need of a project to occupy himself.
Ric had only built one replica in the past – the Manchester Arndale Exchange bookstore in Shudehill – with the aim of filling his back room wall with sculptures of old Manchester buildings and historic doors and frames.
However, it wasn’t until he found himself with plenty of free time that he decided to really pursue art.
Talk to Good ManchesterRic said: “There’s so much history in Manchester city centre, and I also wanted to recreate the seedier side of it, especially around Ancoats and the northern quarter, and put it into frames and hang on the wall.”
But when Ric shared a photo of one of his builds on Twitter, his contraption ‘blew up’ and he found himself inundated with calls and requests from people not just from Manchester, but across the country – not that he is interested in traveling outside of Manchester. , This is.
Ric said: “It’s my full time job now, I’ll be busy till the end of the year with orders…I get people from all over the country asking me to rebuild their local pub, but I don’t want to travel miles to work on something I’ve never seen in my life.
And rightly so, as the process of recreating these buildings and storefronts is laboriously long and can take months at a time.
The proceedings begin with Ric traveling to the location and taking between thirty and sixty photographs, capturing the finer details that anyone else would usually overlook, such as the small numbers on the surrounding lampposts.
He joked: “I’m a perfectionist, everything has to be perfect or I’ll go into a strop.”
The photographs are then uploaded to his laptop, where specific building scales are worked out to ensure the final sculpture is as structurally accurate as possible.
Ric continued: “Once I have a flat picture of the front of the building, I lay the scale down, then I draw a plan of the front of the building and draw it all on a large piece of paper. .
“For store signs I use a website that searches for specific fonts – like Shazam but for fonts – I upload a photo of the sign and it will find the exact font for me, or the closest thing. Once I have that, I fire up Photoshop and start redoing the whole thing there. It’s very time consuming!”
As for the materials used to build the replicas, they can vary from wood, plastic, polystyrene and even foam board.
Ric has since recreated dozens of buildings and storefronts, both for personal commissions and for larger, high profile businesses, all of which average 22-25cm in diameter; small details for interiors can be as small as 4mm.
One of his favorite designs was the Kingbee Record Shop in Chorlton, commissioned by global clothing retailer Levis as part of their Happy Mondays range.
Because they couldn’t fly their models in Manchester due to the pandemic, the retailer instead enlisted Ric’s help in building ten different locations around Manchester, Kingbee Record Shop included, for them to then layer the models in front of the buildings.
Another memorable build is a recreation of an Eccles butcher from the 1980s. Ric had been commissioned to recreate the shop as a tribute to its late owner, although he was given only one sideways photograph as a reference.
He explained, “I was more than happy to do it, it’s a good story and that’s who I am. However, there was only one photo of the butcher shop itself when it closed years ago, and it was taken from an angle.
“The building is still there and it’s a different store but the masonry is the same. So I went to Eccles and took some pictures and started working backwards from there.
“It was a really difficult piece because for me everything has to be perfect down to the millimeter and it was hard to achieve that with just one old photo.”
As Ric travels all over Greater Manchester, his favorite place to recreate is the Northern Quarter and Ancoats, with the old Victorian warehouses and mansions that now house storefronts being his favorite builds.
Although he has managed to keep his craft based around exclusive buildings in Greater Manchester, however, Ric admits he will eventually have to expand further due to the rapid gentrification taking place in the city.