Designers know that building a model can provide unique insides of a place, be it a building, public square … or an entire miniature folk-art model of downtown San Francisco that took nearly 35 years to construct, toothpick by tiny toothpick.

Starting in the 4th grade, Scott Weaver (a bit like his avian namesake) has stacked, glued and essentially ‘woven’ an entire urban landscape from scratch. He has worked at this hobby-turned-passion ever since.

It is not exactly a realistic rendition of San Francisco. Rather, its interpretive style grew and changed over the half-lifetime it took to create, as detailed in this interview.

As it evolved, so did its interactive components: it also has 15 feet of internal tracks through which people can roll ping-pong balls starting at various entrances and all winding their way slowly to the bottom.

I have used different brands of toothpicks depending on what I am building,” Scott says. “I also have many friends and family members that collect toothpicks in their travels for me. For example, some of the trees in Golden Gate Park are made from toothpicks from Kenya, Morocco, Spain, West Germany and Italy. The heart inside the Palace of Fine Arts is made out of toothpicks people threw at our wedding.”

More about Scott via The Tinkering Studio:

Early structures were abstract and about 2–4 feet tall. Then he built one sculpture that had a ping-pong ball roll through it. In 1974, Scott started a new sculpture and added the Golden Gate Bridge and Lombard Street, which also had a ping-pong ball roll through it. This is what started what is now Rolling Through the Bay. Over the years Scott has worked on Rolling Through the Bay, on-and-off, sometimes not working on it for years at a time, to do other projects and get married to his beautiful wife, Rochelle, and have a wonderful son, Tyler. Scott loves working with toothpicks and hopes to do so for years to come.”