International Guild of Miniature Artisans
Director of the Guild School: Barbara Davis
How did you first get started in miniatures?
I was doing full-size furniture refinishing for my home; as well as being an antique collector. One of the antique stores in town had a dollhouse section. The owner also ran a local miniature show. I began making my own miniature furniture and eventually began selling at shows. I specialized in Early American country, painted, aged furniture.
I sold at many shows for a number of years and taught at the Guild School for 8 years. At the same time, I was moving forward in my career and became an elementary school principal, so I was not able to continue with minis.
How did you become involved with IGMA?
I heard about the International Guild of Miniature Artisans (IGMA) and applied to be an Artisan member. Then I sold at the Guild Show in NYC. Later I taught at the IGMA Guild School. I am now the Director of the Guild School.
Do you have any advice to prospective IGMA Scholarship applicants?
Just do it! It is a simple, but serious process. The Scholarship Committee is looking for artists who have potential to grow (beginners) or expand (experienced). We look for a commitment and passion for quality minis.
What advice would you give to a new miniaturist?
Go to the Guild School. If you are an artist, you can learn so much. You can meet like-minded miniaturists. If you are a collector, by taking classes, you learn so much about what goes in to a high quality item – you become a more astute collector.
What have been some of your favorite collaborations?
I have collaborated with Mary Grady O’Brien and Carol Hardy. As a director and collector, I love collaborations. The piece is usually very special and I see the excitement of the artists who collaborate: chatting, researching, planning, and more.
What inspires you?
I don’t “furnish” a dollhouse or a room. I collect pieces that are very fine and can stand alone as a work of art. So many artists inspire me by the beauty and skill they put into their work. That said, I tend to collect paintings.
Mark Murphy and Mary Grady O’Brien’s bird chair. I was outbid when they donated it to our auction.
I just like beautiful and interesting things and miniatures—because they are small—are easier to collect than the real thing. However, it is important to me that they be authentically made.
Anything else you would like to add?
The Guild School is for anyone. You can be a beginner and find a class that is just right for you. Or you can be a very skilled and talented Fellow of the Guild and find new and better ways of creating miniatures. I always hope that miniaturists will come to IGMA Guild School to learn and have fun.
Barbara Davis lives in California. Every June, she heads to Castine, Maine for the annual IGMA Guild School. To learn more about IGMA, visit the International Guild of Miniature Artisans website. You can also follow along on Facebook and Instagram!