Daily Mini Interview: Miniature Sculptures by Jill Orlov

Miniatures and More by Jill Orlov

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KitchenBox2_1920x1280-960x600What’s your earliest memory with miniatures?

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.

cigar-box-mirror-tea1_1920x1440-960x600How would you describe your work in a few words?

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.

Powder1What advice would you give to new artists?

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?

Library-Box-progress2_1920x1440-960x600I 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.

Why miniatures?

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?


NestingChair_1000x758-997x758What’s to come from Jill Orlov?

I have two new Rooms in Boxes: Library in a Box and Powder Room in a Box. Barely started is the Laundry in a Box and Window Seat in a Box.

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?

I take commissions.

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.



Daily Mini Interview: Alan Hamer Miniatures

Alan Hamer Miniatures

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brass,copper,tinWhat’s your earliest memory with metalworking and horshoeing?

Learning to weld, repair and fabricate ranching and farming equipment. I was building minibikes and go-karts at a very young preteen age.

At first, I just wanted to learn horseshoeing to do my own horses but, the more I learned, the more I wanted to learn. I studied it in college and corrective horseshoeing grew into a profession.

What’s your earliest memory with miniatures?

My father was an architect and I did some scale models of his buildings for him. I was very young and it was fun play for me then.

Do you have a favorite metal to work with?

Yes. I enjoy working with iron and steel the best. People do not believe me but I consider iron and steel to be the easiest and most forgiving of the metals to work with.

DSC00984What is the most challenging miniature to make?

Spiral staircases can be a bit tricky. if they start getting a little off it becomes a geometric progression towards doom.

What’s your favorite part about making miniatures?

It is most fun to design and fabricate things with moving parts.

Do you ever work in bigger scale these days?

Every now and then for chuckles… but I sold all of my real size metal tools when we moved to France for a while, and they will probably not be replaced for now.

Do you have a favorite miniature work you’ve created? 

Nope. When I finish a piece, I don’t much care about it any longer. On to the next.

ANTIQUE FRENCH FARM CHILD CARTS (1)As an IGMA Fellow, what would you say is the value of International Guild of Miniature Artisans membership?

The Guild is a great thing and it will plug you into the whole world of miniatures. You will make friends all over our world.

Is your miniature metal work for sale? 

It’s all for sale. But a few years ago, Pretty Wife and a few miniature friends convinced me that I should keep some of my things. First rule of life is that girls get what they want, so I started to keep some things. But now, when I look at these things I think, “sell them and add another motorbike to the stable?”

I do two shows a year, usually Chicago International and Good Sam where my work is available, and usually The Gallery Of The Guild has some of my things on their tables. I can also be contacted through my website.

Career highlights you’d like to recount?Child's pedal 'tin racer'

Two things stand out that made me proud. Once, in a rural café, I overheard the oldest rancher bragging to the others that I had ‘turned’ his horse Lightning’s front foot in just a few months after he had been trying to correct it for years. He had been shoeing horses much longer than I had been alive. And the other was the first time Ingaborg’s miniature magazine in Paris featured my work. Written up in Paris; I had arrived!

Favorite metalworkers?

Oh yes. Alexandre Gustave Eiffel of course. Great work all over France. And the great Polish blacksmith Samuel Yellin. Nearly one hundred years ago my Dad once had him for a toolmaking teacher in Philadelphia.

What advice would you give to new metalworkers and beginner miniaturists? 

You just must keep at it, is all. I truly believe what my grand mum always taught me: “it is in the water that we learn to swim.” The tools and materials are the best teachers, and will teach you just how they like to be worked.

childs trike trucksWhat inspires you?


What is the most memorable miniature you have ever seen?

You know when you drive across the desert, and you stop in one of those unkempt crummy gas station restrooms? A very, very well done one of those in miniature once made me cringe and shiver.

What is your hope for the field of miniatures? 

When I first started and when I was teaching at Guild School, the miniature world kind of looked like an old age home. Now it seems to be getting younger and seems much more international. We can help keep it alive by making miniatures that people just can’t live without.

What would you like to see replicated in miniature that you have not yet seen?

miniatures 059Not sure. I see things at shows that surprise me that people will make in miniature… including miniature packages of condoms for the bedside table. There isn’t much left undone.

What appeals to you most about what you do?

Making things is what I do. It really does not matter what or the medium. When I was doing real size work, ornamental iron, cast bronze, cast glass, I was always driving my 2 1/2 ton truck to the steel yard, and spending $800 for materials. I was always burnt up and dirty. Now I can jump on a motorbike, go to the shops and spend $18 on materials, put them in a pocket and ride home. Also the truth is that miniatures are very easy to sell. Anything of quality is sold right away.

What’s to come from Alan Hamer?

What’s to come? Too many commissions now so I must miss the next Chicago Show. I will be at Seattle in the spring as it is very close,, and I have not done it since back in the last century, and everyone says it is getting good again under a new promoter. I will return to Chicago in 2017. I am starting to do more teaching again. I taught a workshop at the Good Sam Show in October last year. The miniature world needs more metalworkers and I won’t last forever.

Watch this video of his miniature in action:

Motto you live by?

Never be afraid. Be good to the world around you. Have fun. Live with cats.

Other activities you enjoy?

Half a life ago when we met, one of the first things that Pretty Wife told me was that I look stupid driving a car, and that I should stick to motorbikes and horses. I still ride, restore, build, and fool with Italian, Russian, and British motorbikes. Too many old injuries coming back to haunt me now to still fool with horses, I’m afraid.

What do you want miniature enthusiasts to know about you?

I simply keep working and try to bring joy to living.

Alan Hamer of Alan Hamer Miniatures is based in Salem, Oregon. To see more of his miniature metalwork, visit his website today!