Miniatures and More by Jill Orlov
I had a Barbie townhouse, does that count? My mother assembled a kit dollhouse when I was in elementary school, I believe. I was very crafty as a kid, so it was more about fitting it out than the dolls. I never really was into the doll part of it. I was more interested in putting the furniture together, getting the miniature patterned wallpaper, making tiny food out of Sculpey, laying a miniature brick floor and grouting it.
Describe your return to miniatures later in life.
About five years ago, I saw a cigar box diorama art piece at a friend’s house and mentioned to another friend that it was the type of work I love. Coincidentally, she had a friend hosting a themed cigar box art show annually. My friend got me in touch and I did those shows for four years in a row. The last one was my most involved. It incorporated about 10 cigar boxes and I made little scenes in them, one was a miniature room using some of my childhood dollhouse furniture.
As a former architect, I would describe my artwork as the built world… in miniature. A description of my work in a couple words is hard to nail down: whimsically modern and industrial. I make functional art and whimsical objects.
What is the most challenging aspect of your work with industrial design?
Most of it is welded steel and due to the (tiny) size of some of the components, it is extremely time consuming and tedious… but I love the minutiae. Some of the artwork incorporates old wooden drawers and crates, such as the Rooms in Boxes series. So welding around the old dry wood is a challenge, trying not to set anything on fire.
I’m pretty new at it all myself, the part where I consider myself an artist and am now selling my work. I think having a supportive network of artsy friends is worth a lot, whenever I get stuck, I can run an idea by someone and it loosens the gears to have a new set of eyes looking at the work. Stepping away from a piece is also important when I hit a road block. Also, reach out to other artists that you admire. I have gotten great advice from several.
Favorite miniature work you own?
I have a couple pieces that I’d like to give a shout out. Cathy Evans, the woman who curated the group Cigar Box shows, made a piece that I always coveted and now proudly display in my home. It is an altered doll made into a racecar driver. The racecar is a wooden shoe mold. The second piece is one of the cigar boxes that was displayed in the first group Cigar Box show that I participated in. It is by children’s book illustrator Kevin O’Malley. The piece has these miniature bowling pins colored and painted to look like an orchestra. It is beautiful.
What inspires you?
The delicate juxtaposed with the everlasting. Work that shows a sense of time and thoughtfulness.
What is the most memorable miniature you have seen?
So many to choose from, here are a few that stand out: apparently several artists are excelling at this – the carved pencil lead while still part of the pencil and the daily miniature calendar work of Tatsuya Tanaka.
What is your hope for the field of miniatures?
I would love to be “discovered.”I think my work crosses into several areas, the world of miniatures, industrial, modern, fantastical and of course, the whimsical. My hope for the future in general is that the art of craft is not a lost art form. Pride in the workmanship, craftsmanship and quality of materials comes back in the forefront versus the throw away culture that seems to be all too common.
What would you like to see replicated in miniature that you have not yet seen?
As some say, I’m afraid everything has already been done, but I hope not.
Somewhat embarrassingly, I’ll admit to what I’ve always called my Thumbelina complex. I have a secret but kept quiet admiration of the fairy world. Didn’t every little girl wish she was able to live in Genie’s bottle?
Motto you live by?
Do what you love for as long as you can so there are no regrets
Other hobbies you enjoy?
Traveling, walking our dogs in the woods, finding and reading a book that I can’t put down (unfortunately, I have a hard time focusing so they aren’t as frequently found as I’d like).
Anything else you would like to add?
Jill Orlov is an award-winning sculptural furniture designer/fabricator and artist based in Baltimore, Maryland. You can have a look at many more of her mini and mega creations on jillorlov.com as well as on Instagram.