After Dark Miniatures
My Dad took me to the Queen Mary’s Dolls’ House in Windsor England and it was fascinating to me as a young teenager. Everything was so amazingly detailed and perfect. Once I’d seen it, I knew right then that I wanted to own the finest miniatures I could buy.
How did you first get started making miniatures? Where does the interest stem from?
I always had a strong desire to use clay. Even when I was just four years old, I would spend a lot of my time daydreaming about the plasticine at pre-school. All I wanted to do was chop it up and mix it to make new colors. As I grew older, I knew that was what I wanted to do. At around eleven years of age, I recall while in our local art shop, I was often pestering my Father for Fimo clay. And a few weeks later, he took me into the shop and purchased the largest color range set of polymer Fimo clay that they sold. It was a wonderful surprise gift. I have never turned back since.
It was a tall, sitting, black Egyptian cat. I don’t have it any longer; I sold it to my friend Joe at school. He was buying miniature handmade polymer clay people from his other friends at the time, but I always remember how much he really liked the cat I made. The first food miniature I made was after I read a miniaturist book that my Dad kindly purchased for me. It had a detailed “how to” which was an entire butcher’s shop, so I got the supplies and some clay, and I made it entirely. Sadly, I don’t have that either, and I haven’t made much, if any, raw meat since unsurprisingly! But it was good fun at the time and it taught me a lot.
I love making rustic miniatures, my original still life pieces and my Tuscan Deli cabinets are my all-time favorite. There’s just something about them. I think it’s the amount of detail that I put into them, and possibly that I like Italian food just a little too much. But, not forgetting my seasonal fall pumpkins… I really enjoy making these too! Recently, I have been making white and green pumpkins, they also have a wonderful realistic finish to them.
What is the most challenging miniature to make?
Well, this is a struggle to answer, as I don’t think I find anything hard to make really? Actually, corn is quite fiddly to make and mushrooms too, but nothing much challenges me. I think the secret is, if you find something that is really hard to make, then it’s best to stick to something you’re better at making. I do find it hard to obtain other artists’ work to use alongside my own, as I tend to only use other artisans’ handmade work for displaying my own. That way everything I make looks as realistic as possible, and then it’s all totally handcrafted to the highest quality in all aspects of production and finish.
What advice would you give to new artists and beginner miniaturists?
Keep practicing, and be original, and go look at food (or your chosen miniature art subject) and see what it really looks like. This might sound a little crazy, but I hear that quite a lot of people have photos of the entire Waitrose food counters for reference! You see we think we know what something looks like in our mind, but if you look at food in person, and in detail, it’s a whole different thing entirely. Every piece is totally unique. I was also very lucky to have had the support of my partner, and also that of my very good friend Athena from LA. She’s been there for me from the start with her words of support and encouragement to keep me going when I felt like giving up.
Nothing really… I think the road I took making miniatures was really enjoyable, and nothing anyone said could have changed it. It’s a really great pastime.
What’s your hope for the field of miniatures in the future?
My personal hopes are to get better known. I guess I have been hiding out a bit, while making some wonderful miniatures for certain lovely private collectors, and I just haven’t had the time before.
Favorite miniature you own by another artist?
Definitely the hollowed pumpkins that have carved faces in them. I bought from Italian artisan Loredana Tonetti at 64tnt miniatures. I have a huge collection and don’t think I love anything more than her pumpkins that she made for me!
What inspires you?
Looking at real life food. There’s nothing worse than using the Internet or books for photos of food. Go out there and investigate everything in its real life form; pick the food up, and also eat what you can. It’s great fun! Even the Morelli’s ice cream counter that I made for the owner, Mr. Morelli–I made from actual real life memories of being there in Harrods. The only Internet photo I have ever used was my challenge piece. That creation has become my shop logo from the very start. Betsy Niederer inspired me with her own wonderful challenge piece that she had made sometime beforehand.
I really love Thomas Saunders work. He is a miniaturist and woodturner. His little hand-turned wooden bowl that came with its own lid… I had him commission this piece for me. I believe he is now retired and I miss him and his wonderful work very much indeed.
Why miniatures? What appeals to you most about what you do?
Why not? They are amazing, so tiny and delicate, tiny and perfect! I think once you discover them, you get hooked and you can never go back! I am very blessed to be able to make miniatures for some of the most discerning miniature collectors in the world. I very much enjoy what I do. The time and effort I put into making miniatures is nothing compared to the joy of being able to make these works of art.
New miniatures in the works? What’s to come from After Dark Miniatures?
I do have a couple of big projects in the future… something special to do with a snow scene, and the other two are something along the line of luxury retreats, but that’s all I’m saying for now. Keep looking in and you will eventually see them.
Motto or words you live by?
Eat, sleep, squeeze clay, repeat…! Seriously though, I think if I’m offering words of advice to anyone then, just be yourself and be original, and you can’t really go wrong with that.
Anything else you would like to add?
I’d like to sincerely thank everyone for the support over the years while collecting my work, and also following me when I moved to Etsy. It means a lot to me that you enjoy collecting my work as much as I enjoy making it.
After Dark Miniatures was created by London-based Eve. To see more of her impeccable work, you can visit her website, shop her miniatures on Etsy, follow along on Facebook, Flickr, or check out her blog.