Karon Cunningham Miniatures
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How did you first get started working with miniatures?
I only discovered them around 10 years ago when I bought a souvenir and gifts shop in the Georgian city of Bath in England. There was a tiny cabinet of children’s miniatures which I assumed was just another gift line.
A chance meeting with an author of miniature books, who was visiting my shop one day, introduced me to a friend who had been interested in miniatures for over 30 years and has the most exquisite collection I have ever seen. From that moment on, I was hooked. I am a self confessed miniature addict!
What qualities of a miniature work do you take into account as a dealer?
I have a few basic and simple rules when looking for miniatures: quality of workmanship, perfectly to scale (normally 1:12 scale or 1 inch), and most importantly, “do I like it?”
What is the selection process when considering a new artisan to represent?
As a reseller or general dealer of other people’s work, my first thought is for the artisan. After all, it is their work I am selling. I try my best to attribute the artist to every miniature that I have in stock.
You must remember, handmade miniatures are just that, hand made by one person, the artist. Therefore, there is only a certain number of pieces they can make in a given time. Many do not like to travel. Some ask me to take a selection of their pieces to shows they do not attend, others I buy from and report back on their response. Especially from other countries, the artist is always interested to know how their miniatures are accepted abroad.
Approximately how many artisans do you presently represent? How many countries are represented?
I have miniatures that have been made in over 15 countries around the world by over 350 artists!
What are some of the more popular miniatures on your site?
One of the things I hear often from my customers is that I have a lot of different and sometimes unusual miniatures. One said and I quote, :If you are looking for something unusual then go to Karon Cunningham’s site.” I guess it’s because I travel so much; I come across so many miniatures and their makers.
Do you make miniatures yourself?
I do not make miniatures for sale, just for my own pleasure. I take many workshops and classes as I can find time to do so. I love finding out how much goes into the making of these tiny things.
How did you become involved with the International Guild of Miniature Artisans?
I was approached by the Guild‘s President, Teresa Layman, who asked if I would consider standing in on an open place on the IGMA Board of Trustees. The Guild plays a vital part in the promotion, education, and encouragement of miniatures and miniaturists. I wanted to help in any way I could.
What is the value of Guild Show and Guild School?
Two highlights in the Guild’s calendar are the annual show and the school. The Guild Show is held on the East Coast of the U.S. in August. It is an opportunity for those makers who have been awarded Artisan and Fellow status by the Guild to gather together to sell their work. There are also many other makers of exquisite work there too including some from overseas. I attend the show myself, bringing with me a huge array of pieces from some of the best makers in England and Europe. It is definitely an event to mark in your calendar.
The Guild School is an annual event in June and is an intense, highly enjoyable and rewarding week of classes taught by many experienced and talented Artisans and Fellows of the Guild. I attended the Guild School for the first time this year. Wow! What an experience. You leave the week feeling exhausted but elated all at the same time. I was so proud to come home and show off the miniatures that I made. I’ve already enrolled for next year and can’t wait for it to come round again!
Highlights of this year’s Guild Show and other miniature events such as the Philadelphia Miniaturia?
Where do I begin? I don’t think I can put my finger on the ‘highlight’ as such, as the whole experience is one big high for me. From the moment I start packing my stock at home, to driving to the airport and boarding a plane, setting up my table at a show, the selling and the buying, meeting old friends and making new ones, attending classes and bidding at the auction… There is nothing better in the world for me than arriving home after a show and looking back on my trip and enjoying every minute of it.
What is the most memorable miniature you have ever seen?
I’m really interested in weird and wonderful curios and the miniatures made by Jessica Wiesel of Weazilla — these are at the top of my list at the moment. I recently collected a unicorn skull trophy head, a mummified cat, and a jackalope (across between a rabbit and an antelope) from her. How unusual is that!
Anything you haven’t seen in miniature yet?
I don’t know if it has already been made, but I would love to see a silver music box with a singing bird that comes out from a lid on the top. Would that be a wonderful sight!
How has the trend of online shopping for miniatures evolved over the years since you’ve been in business?
The Internet has played an important role in how we all shop today, but when it comes to our hobbies and collections, there is no better way than going to a show and meeting the makers, browsing the tables and selecting your pieces. It is retail therapy at its best!
What can modern day miniature enthusiasts, dealers and miniaturists do to preserve this industry?
As in all areas of collecting art, it is the artisans that need encouragement, acknowledgement and the ability to sell their work. This can be praise from their peers to the gratitude of their collectors.
The International Guild of Miniature Artisans is a perfect example of all three, plus a few more. They acknowledge the artisan through their Artisan and Fellow awards, their annual Guild Show is a highlight in the year for these miniaturists to gather together to sell their pieces. They also give opportunities for the makers to share their knowledge through the school and study programs, encouraging others to create wonderful miniatures.
Without the artist, there would be nothing to admire and desire. Without the collector, there would be no one to buy miniatures. I think of this every time I go to a show. I love to see the new ideas miniature makers have had, and the new miniatures they have created.
I was originally a company accountant. I didn’t go looking for miniatures, they found me and now I travel around the world meeting wonderful people and finding amazing miniatures. I work from home, a quintessential English cottage with my two dogs. I count my lucky stars every day! I really enjoy what I do.
What’s to come from Karon Cunningham Miniatures?
I’ve been filling up my 2016 calendar and the year is looking very busy already. The Christmas Kensington Dollshouse Festival in London fast approaches on December 5. It’s the last show of this year, and a highlight on my calendar. I have a cupboard full of kits and projects to make, and my i
nvolvement with IGMA is keeping me out of mischief. I wouldn’t have it any other way!
Karon Cunningham Miniatures offers a wide and varied collection of miniature furniture, accessories and figurines made by some of the world’s leading miniature makers. Karon Cunningham herself hails from a tiny hamlet of 13 houses called Mile Elm in the South West of England. To see her latest collection of miniatures for sale, have a look at the Karon Cunningham Miniatures website. Make sure to follow her shop on Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest!