A former crime reporter turned artist is putting the "die" in dioramas.

For the last three years, Abigail Goldman, a former crime reporter for the Las Vegas Sun, has been creating dioramas of grisly murder scenes using benign figures designed to decorate model train sets.

"I look at figures that are designed to, say, mow lawns or wave at a train and figure out some way for them to do something else," Goldman told The Huffington Post.

That means a happy clown might be turned into a creepazoid out of a Stephen King novel or the man with the lawnmower may run over his victim with the instrument. Sometimes, she makes her murderous miniatures urinate on their victim.

"I'm not inspired by true cases," she promised. "I only do whatever I can come up with on my own."


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  • Mowing

    A former crime reporter is now looking at the grisly world of murder and mayhem with an artistic eye.

  • Mowing Up Close

    Abigail Goldman is the creator of "Die-o-ramas," which are miniature crime scenes showing tiny criminals and itsy-bitsy axe murderers.

  • Padrino

    Goldman, a former crime reporter at the Las Vegas Sun, came up with the idea after seeing a website showing miniature figures waving or mowing the lawn.

  • Padrino Up Close

    She decided to take the friendly scenes of imaginary Americana and show their gruesome underbelly by making the figurines do the most heinous crimes she could imagine.

  • Relief

    Goldman first started doing the "die-o-ramas" three years ago, but put them on display at a Las Vegas art gallery.

  • Relief Up Close

    Goldman charges between $90 and $500 for each morbid miniature scene.

  • Rush Job

    Sometimes she changes the outfits on the figurines to make them more contemporary. She will also hack them apart in order to make them fit her murderous vision.

  • Rush Job Up Close

    She buys her figurines at train stores, fake grass and styrofoam at Home Depot and uses the dirt in her own lawn.

  • Bozo's Back

    None of the crime scenes are based on reality. Goldman prefers to use her own imagination.

  • Bozo's Back Up Close

    Goldman says Las Vegas, where she lives, is inspirational because people come to Sin City to "get into sanctioned trouble."

  • That One There

    "Crimes that would be banal in New Jersey have a certain glamor and grit in Las Vegas," she said.

  • That One There Up Close

    Goldman currently works as an investigator for the Las Vegas Public Defenders Office and admits she prefers doing her "die-o-ramas" on the side. "I really do love my job," she said.

  • The Bushes

    There are certain types of crime that don't lend themselves to dioramas, Goldman said. For instance, white collar crime isn't that visual.

  • The Bushes Up Close

    Goldman is also dicey about doing custom orders, such as the one from the woman who wanted a diorama depicting her shooting her boyfriend after she catches him cheating.

  • Abigail Goldman

    "I thought that was more of a revenge fantasy than a diorama," Goldman admitted.

Goldman, who is currently an investigator for the Las Vegas Public Defender's Office, started doing her to-die-for dioramas as sort of a lark after seeing pictures of model train set figurines engaged in wholesome activities.

"I said, 'Oh, look at all the little people! Wouldn't it be fun to have them hacking each other in half?'" Goldman, 30, told the Los Angeles Times.

Although she started doing the dioramas for herself, she has found that there are others who wish to decorate their homes with tiny crime scenes. She currently sells her "die-o-ramas" for between $90 to $500 and is backed up on orders through the next year.

"Some people in Beijing have bought them, but I have no idea what they do with them," she told HuffPost. "Maybe put them on the mantel with the family pictures?"

Goldman gets her figures from hobby stores and gets styrofoam and fake grass from Home Depot.

"I get the dirt from my own yard," she added. "I've become an experts on what kind of fixatives work best, but have to do that part in a well-ventilated area."

Although she has received requests for custom orders, Goldman is skittish about pursuing those opportunities.

"One woman asked me to do one that showed her catching her boyfriend in the act of cheating and shooting him in bed, but I thought that was more of a revenge fantasy than a diorama."