Daily Mini Interview: WORK, Figuratively Speaking by Derrick Lin

Derrick Lin’s WORK, Figuratively Speaking

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Do you remember the very first miniature-centric scene you staged?

The very first scene I created was when I was so busy at work and my vacation seemed so close and yet so far away. I created a miniature marathon finish line and a miniature guy collapsing right in front of it…

What scale of miniature figures do you primarily work in?

I primarily work in 1:87 (HO) scale.

What is your favorite type of miniature photoshoot to create?  

About three years ago, I noticed even though we pretty much (over)share everything on social media, people rarely share their workplace frustrations. Seeing no proper outlet, I decided to challenge myself to tell the visual stories of the little moments at work we typically hesitate to express.

My way of overcoming the stigma of being seen as unprofessional is to focus on the thoughts of feelings we have and use miniature figures as the “little voices in our head.” I started using the figures to act out the scenarios in a comical and exaggerated way. Using an iPhone and my desk lamp, I started my Instagram series. It gives me tremendous pleasure when I successfully convey the idea and punch line with a very relatable common scenario and of course when the photo turns out great.

I have been very fortunate that my series has been featured on media around the world. I was even more fortunate to receive a book deal with international publisher Rizzoli. The book creation process was largely similar to my Instagram series posts, but the challenging part was I had to keep the Instagram series active while creating additional 100 scenes, working on sponsored projects with brands such as Chipotle, Entertainment Weekly, and Disney and at the same time managing a cross country move (from Columbus, OH to Seattle, WA) and working on a full-time job. Looking back on the project, I am very proud of myself for pulling everything off. I was extremely thankful that my publisher was very understanding.

How can fans purchase the book? 

My book WORK, Figuratively Speaking is available via most retail channels. It is also available on Amazon.

Please give me your honest book review!

What is the most challenging aspect of your work with miniature figurines? 

First and foremost is gravity! I very quickly realized it is extremely difficult to arrange and erect miniature figures on small area or surface. After three years, I have become a lot more patient than I used to be. The other challenge with working on miniature photography is the scale. It is hard to focus on the figures and plan the scenes and make sure everything is in the picture frame. I definitely learned a lot from my project.

What’s your process like? 

(I love this question!) In every post I do, I always make sure I have the scenario, the figures, and the caption ready before I start the photoshoot. All three elements inform and support each other in teasing out the idea (the ah-ha moment when a viewer understands the joke). I almost always start with the scenario.

Advice you’d give to new photographers? 

Trust your own vision and stick to it. You will continue to refine and soon your work will shine.

Favorite miniature photo you’ve taken?

Oh, it’s very hard for me to pick a favorite as every picture has a story (the inspiration and how I created the shot).

So far in 2017, the most memorable one has been the rendition of Edward Hopper’s Nighthawks. One day I just told my coworker sitting next to me that “I’m going to do it!” and I spent the next eight days straight calculating the angles, creating the props, and shooting the photo. The process was exhausting but also invigorating.

What inspires you? 

I am inspired by “perspectives.” Not just camera and the scale of miniatures but also the ability to find the positive light in any situation. My series is all about perspective and finding humor in every mundane situation.

What sort of miniature scene or photograph would you love to stage in the future? 

I think in terms of “mood” and “feelings.” My series spans across many emotional territories from mischief, frustration, anger, annoyance, sarcasm, melancholy, etc. I realize there are many layers of emotions and scenarios in the notion of “working.” I would love to explore more of it. So far, I do photos when I encounter certain scenarios. Maybe I will have more new perspectives to visualize as my career advances.

Why miniatures?  

Besides the connection with my series that I touched on earlier, I am very passionate about details. Miniature instantly draw my, and many people’s, attention. You want to see the intricate detail of it. You want to believe the miniature world exists. It’s a fascinating world.

What’s to come from Derrick Lin? 

Hard to say… My little project has brought me a series of miracles and adventures that I never would have imagined possible. I will continue to produce little scenes of my honest (relatable and hopefully, hilarious) thoughts and feelings. I will pick the projects that best match my vision and bring them to life. Stay tuned!

Other activities you enjoy? 

I love to doodle and draw. I actually do a lot of sketches and caricatures.

Anything else you’d like to add? 

This may be personal… but before this project, I used to be a very very shy person with very little confidence. Ten years ago, I quit my engineering career and moved to the States from Taiwan to pursue both a career with creativity and a more confident self. My Instagram project was the first time I only listened to myself and stayed true to my own vision. I was beyond flattered when I saw the responses from around the world. It has put me on the world stage and I was pushed to express and grow. It has given me more than I had ever expected. I have said it a lot but I am truly grateful for the kind support everyone has given me. Their warmth has carried me on my creative journey.

WORK, Figuratively Speaking by Derrick Lin is out now! Get your copy here. Derrick currently lives in Seattle, Washington and his hometown is Kaohsiung, Taiwan. To see more of his work, follow along on Instagram or Tumblr.

Daily Mini Interview: Mini Yemek Miniature Food Videos

Mini Yemek 

Instagram | Facebook | YouTube |

What’s your earliest memory with miniatures? 
In my childhood, my mother collected coupons from newspapers and bought me my first dollhouse. I think my interest in miniature objects started like this.

How did you first get started making miniature food that’s edible?

I love watching miniature cooking videos. When I saw that no one from my country had made such videos, I wanted to be the first to do it and I achieved this goal.

I set up a miniature kitchen in the scale of 1:12 and cook Turkish food, and food from around the world using real and edible ingredients.

Watch a miniature burger tutorial!

Do you remember the very first miniature food dish you made?

Of course, it’s not that long ago. I cooked an eggplant and I was disappointed. It was not cooked properly, the oven was constantly going off and it did not look like what I wanted. But I kept trying!

What is the food scene like in Turkey?

Turkish food is magnificent and it’s so much more than just kebab! There are lots of materials and cooking techniques. I think I also get to introduce Turkish cuisine to the world in a fun way.

For those that don’t know, what is the translation of Mini Yemek?

Mini yemek (or minyatur yemek) means mini food.

Favorite miniature dish you’ve ever prepared?

I guess stuffed meatballs. They are so difficult to make! I remember being delighted when it was finished, though. I was very happy with the results.

What inspires you? What keeps you creating new Mini Yemek videos? 

I look at the things around me in a different way now. Bottle caps, a plant’s seed or a little piece of cloth can give me ideas and inspire me. I use them as décor in my videos. I make my menus using plants that I grow myself and ingredients that I “minimize” myself. Every menu is a new challenge!

Favorite miniature quote? 

My videos have been posted with the title “cooking level impossible.” I guess I could say “everything is possible at the Mini Yemek kitchen.”

Ece Caglayan is based in Istanbul, Turkey. She creates Mini Yemek videos and recipes in small scale. To see new Mini Yemek videos, follow along on InstagramFacebook, and YouTube. 

Daily Mini Interview: Miniatures by Rachel Growden

Rachel Growden miniatures 

Website | Instagram

What’s your earliest memory with miniatures? 

My earliest memory with miniatures is when I was just a kid. I would make tiny pies and sandwiches for my American Girl dolls, using instructions from one of the American Girl craft books. The pies were made with seed beads, felt, and bottle caps. The sandwiches were made with cork board and rubber bands. I loved how the materials mimicked real food.

How did you first get started making miniatures?

My interest in miniatures really stems from my love of fake food, and the realization that minis could be a relatively easy way to reproduce all kinds of food. I first got started a few years ago when my coworkers and I were browsing YouTube during some downtime at work and came across videos of a girl making miniature pastries, fast food, candy, and more. I was working at an art supply store, so I just bought the supplies I needed there and went home to try making some mini food myself.

Do you remember the very first miniature you ever made?

I feel like the first miniature I ever made from polymer clay was probably a hamburger. It was definitely one of the first, if not the first. I have a box somewhere of all of my early miniatures. They are kind of embarrassing to look back on now.

What’s your favorite type of miniature to make? 

Although I do occasionally make furniture and decor for my dollhouses, food is my favorite type of mini to make. I usually enjoy it most when I’m making a food I’m actually craving in the moment, because then I get really into it. Sometimes I have to make or get the real thing afterwards.

What about the most challenging miniature? 

I don’t usually have the patience required to make the detailed canes required for a lot of realistic looking fruits.

What advice would you give to new miniaturists?

I’d tell beginning miniaturists not to stress too much over their first few pieces. You can definitely improve with practice.

Favorite miniature you own by another artist or have made yourself? 

One of my favorite mini scenes I have ever made was a bunch of Halloween treats in the kitchen: ghost and pumpkin cookies, orange and black cupcakes, candied apples, even a tiny bag of candy corn. I think scenes look best when you add as much detail and variety as possible.

What inspires you? 

I generally draw inspiration for miniatures from whatever I wish I had in real life but, for whatever reason, don’t. That may be a particular food, a vintage stove, or some antique painting I can’t afford. At least I can have a miniature version.

What is the most memorable miniature you have ever seen by another artist? 

I went to a miniature show in Atlanta one year where someone was selling mini “meat scraps” and urine samples.

What’s to come from Rachel Growden? 

I’m hoping to get more into commercial miniature commissions soon. I’d love to make scaled down versions of food from particular restaurants for an ad campaign or something. I also plan on building a new little kitchen to photograph my mini food in.

Other hobbies you enjoy? 

In addition to making mini food, I bake and decorate a lot of cakes. I like to make quilts too, but it takes me forever because I can never find the time to work on them.

Rachel Growden hails from Nashville, Tennessee. To see more of her work in miniature, visit her website and follow along on Instagram.

Daily Mini Interview: Hobby Builders Supply and miniatures.com

Get to know the teams behind Hobby Builders Supply and miniatures.com 

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Use code WDM2018 for $5 off of your first order! Valid through 2/16/18. 

So, tell us, who’s the family behind miniatures.com and Hobby Builders Supply? 

In 1975, Benamy International, founded by the late Mickey Benamy, was a going and growing importer. A Texas customer came to see Mr. Benamy with a concept of miniature furniture of Early American design. The designs were similar to what you would see in Ethan Allen furniture stores. The customer gave the drawings and specifications for the miniature furniture (1:12 scale), and they wanted us to quote a price. Mr. Benamy went to Taiwan and contacted a reliable maker that he had known for several years in the craft industry. After more than a week of negotiations in Taipei, he reached a price, which he quoted to the customer by telex. The customer accepted our price and placed a significant order with a letter of credit.

The maker was told that each item must be made exactly as specified and that there would be zero tolerance for variation. We had to source machinery that did not vibrate and soft wood lumber that would not warp. Within a month, production was started. Within the next two months, the customer called to say that they were going out of the craft and hobby business – that they would accept the orders placed but would not reorder. Mr. Benamy was told that he could have the rights to the designs that they had created, and that was it.

Mr. Benamy took a good hard look at the miniatures business to see what was currently available and found that there was really a “Cottage Industry,” but no mass production. There seemed to be several artisans making miniature furniture, selling their wares at small shows and in magazine ads.

He found that there were several makers of dollhouses, but no one was producing authentic 1:12 scale components, such as doors, windows, hardware and roof shingles. He gathered a small group, and HOUSEWORKS, LTD. was formed.

Our first product was a 5-piece set of 1:12 scale clay pots. We printed a flyer showing the clay pots and a nickel standing on edge to illustrate the size. We then went through every publication on miniatures that we could find and mailed a flyer to every advertiser. Nutshell News, a digest sized magazine to which practically every miniaturist subscribed, was the first publication for us to place a small advertisement. Within a week, orders started pouring in for the clay pots, and we had a mailing list.

We listened to advice from miniaturists from all over. We were told many times that miniature collecting was the world’s third most popular collector hobby – surpassed only by stamps and coins. This seemed like a real opportunity for us to make a positive impact on the hobby. Mr. Benamy’s son, Paul, contacted people building dollhouses to show them our doors and windows and convinced them to size their openings to accommodate our components.

In the meantime, production was started on windows, doors, dormers and shingles. Many times, Paul and Mr. Benamy would be in the warehouse sanding and gluing components to make them perfect before being shipped to our customers.

In Atlanta, we bought machinery, hired operators and started to produce a Williamsburg dollhouse in a leased space next door to our offices. This dollhouse venture was a big mistake because Mr. Benamy didn’t have the temperament to manage a factory. If it wasn’t perfect, it was not Houseworks quality, and it would be rejected. That was the way it had to be. Excellent quality was our standard. It didn’t take us long to realize that we were not meant to be manufacturers, and we proceeded to outsource the dollhouse production.

Within 18 months, Houseworks was off to a flying start. We established a network of wholesale distributors and dealers worldwide. Our product line was growing and was the leading source for the miniatures industry. In order for our business to grow, we realized early on that we had to do something to perpetuate the hobby. A gathering of local miniaturists in Atlanta was organized, and this was the start of the Atlanta Miniature Society, which Houseworks initially funded. Shortly thereafter, we arranged a meeting in Chicago with other manufacturers and importers to form a trade organization for miniatures and to run an annual trade show for our industry. We co-founded the MINIATURES INDUSTRY ASSOCIATION of AMERICA. Several years later, Paul became president of this association.

Houseworks needed to expand its product line. Our business plan was to grow 25% a year for the first five years. When Mr. Benamy went to the bank to talk about our needs, the banker thought we were crazy. He had never heard of dollhouse miniatures being a business. So, we did it without the bank’s help. After three years, the bank was calling us to offer help.

When Houseworks felt the consumer demand to expand into the direct-to-consumer business, there was some objection from our wholesale customers. Wholesale customers didn’t want to sell a Houseworks-branded product that consumers could now go direct to Houseworks to buy. Given these objections, the Hobby Builders Supply brand was born as a way to sell a variety of miniature brands direct to consumer via mail order catalog without compromising the Houseworks wholesale business. And as the demand for online shopping began, miniatures.com was launched in 1995 to offer our miniatures customers the ability to shop when, how, and where they wanted.

Today, the company is run by Mickey Benamy’s two sons, Dean and Paul Benamy. Dean’s daughter, Heather, also works in new business development and marketing for the company. Several of the 30 employees have been with the company since its inception, or close to.

Over the years, a fun business that was creative, profitable and fulfilling was created. Customers and vendors became close friends that we cherish to this day. It’s these realities that make it all worthwhile, even now. Thank you for your interest in Houseworks/Hobby Builders Supply/miniatures.com, and here’s to the next 40+ years.

How did Hobby Builders Supply (HBS) come to be? 

One morning, Paul Benamy received a call from a consumer that was building one of the Three in One dollhouse plans that Houseworks published. The woman explained that she lived in Savannah, Georgia, and she was trying to build this dollhouse for her 11-year-old granddaughter’s birthday. She said she had gone to her local dollhouse and miniatures shop to purchase over $500 worth of our dollhouse building components and supplies, but her local shop didn’t have any of the items in stock and the store owner said she would not be reordering for several months. Frustrated and running out of time, the grandmother decided to call Houseworks to see if she could purchase what she needed directly from us to complete the dollhouse in time for her granddaughter’s birthday. Paul explained that at the time we only sold direct to dealers and distributors and that we couldn’t sell products to her direct. After he hung up the phone, he went to speak with Mr. Benamy about the phone call and told him that we were crazy to let this customer be disappointed. Paul said that if Houseworks could not sell to her then we needed a direct to consumer outlet to supply our retail consumers that did not have our products available in their communities. Mr. Benamy asked Paul to call the lady back and tell her that we didn’t want to lose her business, and that we would ship what she needed directly that very afternoon. Thus, Hobby Builders Supply was born, and we shipped the customer the dollhouse components and supplies the she needed. She was happy, and her granddaughter was extremely excited when she received this grand dollhouse made by her grandmother.

Tell us a bit about how miniatures.com was launched in 1995 and how it’s grown over the years.

In the summer of 1993, as much of Atlanta was preparing for the 1996 Olympics, Paul Benamy was introduced to a gentleman trying to organize Georgia businesses to get on the “World Wide Web” in preparation for the millions of visitors that Atlanta would entertain during the Olympics. At that time, the Internet was only being used by universities and the federal government. The WWW was a whole new world and we were about to embark as pioneers in this new industry. So, we registered the miniatures.com domain in 1993 and proceeded to post the book, Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Dollhouses but Didn’t Know Who to Ask, written by employee Nancy VanHorn, online for the world to learn and enjoy.

Initially, we set out to educate the world about the incredible world of miniatures, and our first site was purely informational. It had the complete book online and a form where people could request our printed Hobby Builders Supply Buyers Guide. Within days of being online, we were receiving hundreds of requests for our catalog. Shortly thereafter, people began calling and asking if they could place orders by email and send in their credit card information. That was the birth of our online sales. We knew then that we needed an online site that would be able to take orders and process credit cards for payment.

At the time, this was all new stuff to the I.T. folks in Atlanta, Georgia, but we ended up finding a gentleman named Chip Dukes to help us build one of the first shopping carts on the internet. To this day, Chip still manages our site design, and our miniatures.com site is the leading website for dollhouses and miniatures with over 5,000 products for purchase. Today, in 2018, we now have about 30 employees that work as a family to sell quality miniatures from Atlanta. Our Hobby Builders Supply and miniatures.com brand is direct to consumer, while our Houseworks brand is for wholesale orders.

What advice would you give to new mini makers?

Don’t be afraid to just dive in. Opening a new dollhouse with all of the parts and components can feel very overwhelming, but take it one step at a time, and you’ll be amazed at what you can do. Also, find miniature bloggers online and seek out their tips and tricks. They’ve been doing it for a while, so learn the shortcuts or helpful hints from their experience.

What about advice you’d give to an online shop owner?

Take a look at the websites of various large online retailers and make note of where their search bars are, where and how they display their categories, where their logos are, and even what they put on their homepage heroes and any other product or content pods. Larger retailers spend millions of dollars testing and watching consumer behaviors on their sites, so benefit from what they’ve done on their site because chances are, everything on their website is in its place for a proven, tested good reason.

Also, learn all that you can about SEO (Search Engine Optimization). The more that your site is optimized, with links and content for search engines to read, the further up your site will appear in organic customer searches. This means customers are more often to see and click your site after an online search.

What’s your favorite time of the year for miniatures? 

Our favorite time of year is December/January when all of the Creatin’ Contest projects are turned in and judged. Year after year, our customers amaze and surprise with their creativity and attention to detail. It makes judging the contest harder and harder every year!

Does anyone in the HBS family collect miniatures? If so, any favorites in their collection?

She’s not blood family, but she might as well be, as Nancy Van Horn has been a company employee for 27 years. Before coming to Houseworks, she owned her own shop, selling Houseworks components as well as handcrafted items. After starting here as a receptionist, she worked her way up to Sales Manager and also helps with customer service for Hobby Builders Supply and miniatures.com.

Nancy acquired her first dollhouse as a child and fell in love with miniatures at that time. Over the years, Nancy says she has owned 200 dollhouses and room boxes! She had sold, donated or given away quite a few of them over the years, but still has a large collection.

“My favorite dollhouse is called The Karen and was built by Jack Nash from The House Jack Built,” Nancy says. “It is a Second Empire Victorian and stands four feet high and has over 8000 hand-applied shingles,” according to Nancy. Nancy estimates that the house itself is worth more than $15,000 and it is furnished with more than $10,000 worth of items she has collected over the years.

Another favorite in Nancy’s collection is a large room box she calls “Miniature Artisan Museum.” It has two stories and proudly displays items she has been collecting from well-known miniature artisans since the 1980s. Nancy says that recently, she has become interested in 1:48 scale. She loves the detail you can see in even these extremely tiny items, plus it is easier to find room for smaller-scale displays!

Do any mini makers work at miniatures.com?

Outside of Nancy Van Horn (above), we employ in-house miniaturist, Fran Casselman. Fran is tasked with creating the mini scenes for the front cover of our catalogs, as well as mini vignettes for use inside the catalog and online. She also creates a finished version of the Creatin’ Contest kit every year to help showcase the new kit and inspire customers to enter the contest, and seasonal mini projects throughout the year that we use in marketing and social media.

How can miniaturists and miniacs collaborate with the miniatures.com team? 

We’d love to create a network of miniaturists and miniacs that can help serve as a “brain trust” for the team to bounce ideas off of, provide ideas, provide feedback, and would be open to using products that we send to help us create small projects to feature in marketing, social media, and PR.

We’d also love to have those same folks provide tips and tricks that we can share with the miniature community.

Additionally, guest bloggers would be considered for our Small Talk blog on miniatures.com depending on topic, content, and products in the post. If interested, shoot us an email at hbs@miniatures.com.

What keeps the team inspired at miniatures.com?

Our customers by far inspire us the most! We love to see pictures of the projects that they’re working on or have completed. We love to see the unique ideas that they come up with during our annual Creatin’ Contest or Halloween Challenge. We love to hear what they’re working on and what they need. And we love feedback from our customers to ensure that we continue to meet their needs.

What is the most memorable miniature you have ever seen?

Our most memorable miniature was an exact replica of our corporate office completed in miniature for us by a customer in South Carolina! The replica of our building was built by a long-time friend and customer, Benny Roper. It is completely finished inside and out and is even landscaped and wired for lighting. Mr. Roper used Houseworks components throughout and we have proudly displayed it in our lobby for over 30 years.

What is your hope for the field of miniatures? 

Our hope for the field of miniatures is that we are able to continue to inspire and engage current customers and seek out new customers for the hobby. To inspire existing customers, our Buyer, Sue Johnson, searches for new and interesting minis to sell to our customers from new and existing vendors as well as miniature makers.

In fact, we just launched our Collector’s Boutique on miniatures.com which is a small, ever-evolving group of extra-special miniatures in very limited quantities, many that few have seen before.

Sue also works to create a new dollhouse kit every year specifically for our Creatin’ Contest so that it’s a new kit with a ton of imaginative possibilities. As a team, we’re always trying to brainstorm new project ideas to share with our customers that might compel them to finish an existing project or start something new!

To inspire and engage new customers, we attend DIY blogger conferences and partner with crafter and mommy bloggers to expose the hobby to those that already have an interest in making and crafting. With these partnerships, the targeted bloggers blog about a small miniature project, like an elf or tooth fairy door made with miniatures, to expose new audiences to miniatures and inspire them to take on the small project. We feel if we can get someone to create an entry project with miniatures, like an elf door, they may just be inspired to take on a room box or dollhouse as their next project.

What would you like to see replicated in miniature?

The International Space Station.

What’s to come from miniatures.com and Hobby Builders Supply? 

As for new miniatures, we launch new and “back by popular demand” miniatures about four times a year in our catalogs and online. New miniatures are designated in our catalogs with the word “NEW” on a red stripe across the top of the catalog pages, and online in the “New Arrivals” link located in the green bar below the homepage hero.

We kicked off the 2017 holiday season with a lot of great promotions on Black Friday and Cyber Monday. And to round out the year, all entries were received for the 24th Annual Creatin’ Contest. Winners will be announced mid-February, and the 25th Annual Creatin’ Contest kit will be announced shortly, so stay tuned!

What do you want miniature fans to know about you? 

Our onsite warehouse keeps approximately 5,000 miniatures at the ready to ship to customers upon order!

Though we’re a “big” company by miniatures standards, we’re really a small, family-operated company that cares deeply about our customers, the products that we make available, and the industry as a whole. For us, behind the catalog and website, it’s personal.

Would you like to share a dailymini exclusive with readers?

Now through February 16, we invite dailymini followers to take $5 off of their order with code WDM2018 used on miniatures.com. No minimum order, one use per person.

We’d also like to invite them to sign up for our emails to get notified of new products, sales, and project ideas.

Hobby Builders Supply, Houseworks Ltd., and miniatures.com are some of the biggest names in the miniatures business. From online sales to interactive contests, wholesale shipping and blogging opportunities, the miniatures.com team has certainly made a name for themselves since their founding in the 1990s. Want to learn more? Follow along to see what’s happening in the miniatures world. Check out the Small Talk blog and HBSMiniatures social media: InstagramFacebookPinterest, and Twitter

Daily Mini Exclusive: Etsy Features dailymini’s Favorite Miniature Shops

This January 4, 2018 on Etsy, dailymini was featured in an article about miniatures and miniature makers who sell on Etsy. The article, entitled Obsessing Over: Miniaturesappeared in the Home and Living Shopping Guides section of Etsy’s Blog.

Artisans featured from dailymini’s list of favorites include Leah Yao of Fatal Potato, Mel Sebastian of Mad Missy Minis, Susan Van Tubbergen of Van T Potter, Marina Paredes of Prettymodels, Sander of PiCTOSO, Suzy Riley of Life of Riley Miniatures, Fatih Karalar of Boutique Miniatures, and Shay Aaron of Shay Aaron Miniatures.

To read the full Etsy feature, click here.

Daily Mini Trend: Maria Buonagura on Indian Market

Mini Trend: Indian Market by Maria Buonagura

|  Get to know Maria Buonagura  |

Growing up in Brooklyn, Maria was fortunate to travel every August with her family throughout the United States to visit many National Parks and Monuments. Especially during trips to the West and Southwest, she frequently came upon Indian Reservations and crossed paths with Native Americans; she met fascinating people and awed at their beautiful turquoise jewelry, suede moccasins, and beaded belts.

As she spent more and more vacations traveling west of the Mississippi, Maria fell in love with the crafts from various native American tribes. Whether Sioux in Montana, Apache in Arizona, or Cheyenne in Wyoming, she’d beg her parents to buy something (anything!) to remind her of the trips and purveyors. “I remember bringing home fabric dolls, beaded coin purses and suede belts,” she said.

In adulthood, Maria is still lucky to travel and maintain a deep appreciation for Native American crafts. So, it’s not surprising that several years ago, she caught a magazine article on Indian Market in Santa Fe, New Mexico. It’s a yearly two-day August gathering at Santa Fe Plaza with over 700 Native American juried artists representing over 200 federally recognized tribes. It features paintings, jewelry, basketry, pottery, textile weavings, beadwork, and much more.

Indian Market is sponsored by SWAIA-Southwestern Association for Indian Arts.

From Mitchell Museum: mitchellmuseum.org/Miniatures.html

Maria recounts her experience: “A few years back, I attended my first Indian Market. And, as luck would have it, two extraordinary things happened. I met a neighbor, a Shinnecock jewelry artist who was currently living, of all places, Brooklyn! And, I found Native American miniatures! I was in heaven. I brought home a miniature Navajo rug, a mini Hopi Kachina doll, and a tiny piece of Zuni pottery.”

Since then, she’s added to her mini American Indian collection with pieces like a tiny leather hand-painted drum, a small feathered tomahawk, and a mini hand-loomed tray.

Maria admires the meaningful colors and originality of Native Americans, plus adores the art of the miniature. She highly suggests a visit to Santa Fe during the month of August.

“One of the designer fashion trends for this summer 2018 is feathers and fringe, something you’d find on many pieces of Native American clothing,” Maria notes.

The 2018 market runs from August 18-19. And who knows? You might unexpectedly meet a neighbor, too.

Maria Buonagura has more than two decades of experience in the fashion industry, previously working as a stylist, buyer and fashion photographer’s assistant. Check out her Coroflot profile to learn more. Like what you see here? Stay tuned for more “daily mini trends” to come!






Daily Mini Feature: Making Mini Food Book by Miniaturist Lynn Allingham of Tuckshop

Making Mini Food: 30 Polymer Clay Miniatures Book by Lynn Allingham of Tuckshop

| Win a Copy!Purchase Making Mini Food Book |
dailymini Interview |

Manchester, UK-based miniature maker Lynn Allingham of Tuckshop has just released a new book, Making Mini Food: 30 Polymer Clay Miniatures, now available for sale through The GMC Group.

Win your very own copy of Making Mini Food: 30 Polymer Clay Miniatures by Lynn Allingham!

Since 2009, Lynn has been creating and selling miniature food through her Etsy shop Tuckshop. Her new book is a collection of bitesize breads, cakes, pastries, and tiny portions of comfort food made from polymer clay including mac and cheese, noodles, miso soup, bagels, and pizza.

Divided into three levels, each miniature making project comes with clear, step-by-step instructions and is beautifully photographed to whet your appetite. There’s even a section on how to turn all of these creations into wearable art and miniature food jewelry!

Making Mini Food: 30 Polymer Clay Miniatures also includes an extensive techniques section and materials list to prep miniature enthusiasts and makers on how to get started with these intricate projects.

From popcorn and blueberry pancakes, to a festive gingerbread house and a full roast dinner, food lovers and miniature fans will marvel at these mini creations of their favorite meals.

Lynn is inspired by Japanese craft and constantly seeks out new, fresh techniques to explore. She’s well known on social media for her tiny recreations of past Great British Bake Off contestants’ baking, including Candice Brown’s gingerbread pub and Nadiya Hussain’s chocolate peacock.

Enter to win a copy of Lynn Allingham’s Making Mini Food: 30 Polymer Clay Miniatures here. To purchase this book (for £16.99 or $24.95), head on over to the GMC Group. Want to learn more about this miniature artist and author? Visit the Tuckshop blog today! To shop Lynn’s miniatures, check out Tuckshop on Etsy. And don’t forget to follow along on Instagram and Twitter.

Daily Mini Interview: The Whatamagump by Broken Eagle, LLC

The Whatamagump by Bryan McIntyre and Greg Boettcher of Broken Eagle, LLC

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What are your earliest memories with miniatures, stop motion animation, or small scale worlds?

Bryan McIntyre (BM): My first memory involving miniatures and stop motion are Gumby and Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, but the first time I remember being spellbound and inspired by the medium was in the late 80s at a Spike and Mike animation festival where I saw the first Wallace and Gromit short, A Grand Day Out by Nick Park. I still love that one so much!

Greg Boettcher (GB): Growing up in the early 70s, there were quite a few mediums using these techniques, I remember View-Master translating cartoons into miniature sets and puppets, the old fairy tale books used the same style. One of the more exciting instances of that technique was at Disneyland, in the windows on main street. I was always fascinated by those; I loved seeing these frozen moment in time of things that didn’t exist. The earlier stop motion TV specials were always fun too: the Ray Harryhausen stop motion films and all the rubber monsters from Japan like Godzilla, Gamera, Ultraman, and Giant Robot. I was also inspired by a lot of sci-fi and adventure shows like the old Flash Gordon, Doctor Who, and Space 1999. Then Star Wars came along and that changed everything.

How did you get into the field of songwriting and storytelling? 

BM: I was a professional musician and songwriter for many years prior to moving in to art, but in my experience so far, I’ve found the same part of the brain makes it happen.

Where do you draw your inspiration from?

BM: Inspiration for me generally comes out of nowhere – it’s more a matter of cultivating random thoughts that pop in and out of my head. I’m usually looking for something I’ve never seen or heard of before.

How did you first get started in film and TV? And how did you end up connecting with the team over at Laika Studios?

BM: I was suffering fallout from the recession a few years ago. After getting laid off and struggling to provide for my family, I decided that since choosing the ‘safe’ route didn’t seem to be working, perhaps I should try doing something I actually enjoyed doing. I’d already been sculpting for a few years and had taught myself molding and casting techniques when LAIKA came out with their teaser trailer for ParaNorman. I remember saying to my wife that working on a film like that would be about the best thing ever.

Three months later we packed up the kids and moved to Portland with no job prospects and no money. Probably not the most responsible move, but nothing responsible was working out at the time, so we figured “what the hell, it can’t get any worse.” Three weeks later, I got a job at LAIKA in the facilities department and a couple months after that, moved into the Art Department as a PA for The Boxtrolls. That film was so incredibly prop heavy; they needed all hands on deck and I finally got moved into the model shop making props. That’s really where I discovered I’d been doing everything wrong up till then.

I grew really quickly at that point because I was working around some the best model makers in the world and had access to the best techniques, tools and materials. The model shop crew were all incredibly kind and generous with their knowledge and I’ve maintained great friendships with many of them ever since. It was a very exciting time for me.

GB: Always drawing from my childhood influences, growing up in a time of model kits and toys, I gravitated toward those industries, I had been an off and on freelance illustrator for a few years but needed something more.

I went to art school, realized I knew quite a bit already, but used the time to build up my portfolio and try things that I hadn’t had the luxury to try before. From there, I moved back to LA and started working as a model maker on feature films. I worked for a number of different companies — New Deal Studios and Grant McCune Design mostly — did some toy prototype work, some stop motion TV, spaceships, giant miniature landscapes, sculptures, some concept work, and lots of things that got blown up. Years later myself and a number of my colleagues were hired to work on ParaNorman. I lead the model making dept. It was a very exciting experience. after that I started working for House Special doing commercial work, and worked on some friends’ short films until starting Broken Eagle.

Favorite film or TV ad you’ve worked on? 

BM: I’ve got three:

  • The Boxtrolls (for reasons mentioned above).
  • A 3-D remake of Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer. Rudolph was really cool because I got the lead sculptor position and sculpted the inside and outside of the Abominable Snowmonster’s (Bumble) cave – it was 6 feet tall. It was a truly nostalgic piece for me to make having grown up loving the original movie so much.
  • My favorite ad spot so far was for Häagen-Dazs. The spot was called Maker Street and it was very ambitious and elaborate: 15 sets, tons and tons of props. Commercials are a lot of fun because the timeframes are so tight. You have to get really clever about how your time is spent on each piece and constantly consider where you can cut a corner without negatively effecting the aesthetic of the prop or shot.

GB: My favorites so far have been:

  • Serenity at Grant McCune Design. I was the lead on the main building of the ship, and I also did a lot of set dressing in the hangar that it crashes in. The amount of fun, detailed model making, combined with most of the crew and I becoming fans of the TV show while on the job, made this one especially exciting and my favorite project.
  • The Fountain at New Deal Studios. I was lead sculptor and tree maker for the space tree and the full bloom miniature trees. Coming up with so many different ways to achieve textures and replicate the full size set pieces was a fun challenge.
  • ParaNorman for LAIKA. This was a challenging project with so many moving parts. The amount of items we made and techniques that were used and design challenges we faced made this one stand out. I really enjoyed the constant juggling act and working in the style of that film. Plus, the finished product was beautiful.

What went into the founding of Broken Eagle Studio in 2014?

BM: After working a couple of jobs together, Greg and I just realized that we really loved a lot of the same stuff about this industry and also had the desire to originate our own work as opposed to always being a hired gun waiting for the phone to ring. I came up with the idea of creating a high-quality, limited edition merch product for my buddies in a great band called Rival Sons. I think it was Greg that came up with the concept for the piece we ended up making. After a few concept illustrations, we pitched it to the band and they loved it. We were off and running!

GB: I met Bryan running a commercial job for Bent Image Lab and we hit it off. I later hired him to help me on a project I was running out of my garage shop and it was during then that we started coming up with how to team up on some project ideas. He had some ideas about reaching out to some friends of his in the music industry, The Rival Sons, so we R & D’d that project from concept to the final products.

How did the idea for The Whatamagump first come about?

BM: Greg and I had a mutual fantasy of creating a modern children’s book with artwork that was all handmade and three-dimensional. I’ve been calling it ‘Stop Motion Without The Motion.’ We kicked around several ideas and decided it might be better if we focused on the artwork and producing the book itself and bring in someone to collaborate on the writing side. My old friend Tyrone Wells is an amazing singer and songwriter; his live shows are filled with great stories surrounding the songs he’s performing. He’s a fantastic storyteller. Being a father himself, I kind of thought that his style, sensibility and stage of life made him the perfect guy for us to partner with.

We pitched it to him simply: “you write the story and record a few songs and we’ll create the artwork and produce the project.” He came up with the story concept and the name “The Whatamagump” pretty quickly and we knew we had a winner. That name was so perfect and catchy that everything else fell together quickly after that.

It has been an absolute blast for us to see this idea become an actual physical reality. He was truly the perfect guy to partner with for this project.

GB: One of the first things we talked about doing when we started Broken Eagle was doing a stop motion styled children’s book. It was both of our passion project wish list item for many years. Bryan reached out to Tyrone to team up with us and write the story and we took his first draft and started designing and creating this world. I started with some character designs for Julie and The Whatamagump. Once I sketched him out the first time we all knew that this was going to be something special.

What is your collaboration process like? 

BM: I usually fall into the role of Producer and Greg art directs and designs everything. We both fabricate and sculpt. There is definitely overlap too though. We have very distinct and differing abilities in areas, and we’ve learned to respect and gain from each other’s insights or ideas pertaining to just about everything. The Whatamagump process went like this:

  • “Let’s make a picture book!”
  • Tyrone wrote part of the story
  • Greg illustrated several different character ideas; we all decided on one
  • Greg designed Julie’s room and every detail in it
  • I built most of it and sculpted Julie
  • Greg sculpted Whatamagump
  • We worked with Tyrone to message the story into something that flowed well from a visual standpoint
  • Greg and I then discussed elements of each scene
  • Greg storyboarded it

GB: It changes depending on the project, I usually sketch out some ideas on how to make something then we bounce that back and fourth figuring out materials, scale, budget and techniques. Bryan works out bids and production work. We both fabricate and sculpt and I do most of the painting.

For The Whatamagump, once I had some designs for the monster and Julie, I started set designing her bedroom. Then we made a foam core mock up and tested out the space and scale. I started pulling up prop and furniture references and color schemes. Bryan took that information and started fabricating. I also made some props and all the illustrated objects (like book covers and board games). After that, I started sculpting the ‘Gump, and Bryan started the Julie sculpt. We both made the molds and castings. Bryan made the clothing and the hair and I did the painting. We both lit and shot the photos.

What are some challenges associated with this project? 

BM: My personal opinion is that the biggest challenge is already behind us. It was mental. When you’re doing something brand new with no promise of success, and many people telling you “it’s a neat idea, but it’s impossible,” it’s challenging to stay positive and keep chipping away toward your goal. I don’t know how many hundreds of hours we’d put in to this project before Kickstarter even launched, but it was a lot! Believing against all odds that we could fund this book was a test in tenacity. We’d been working on this for 1 year before Kickstarter came into play. Personally, I just didn’t care what anyone thought. I was going to make this thing happen. Period.

GB: We knew it would take a lot of time and money to achieve something so ambitious, so finding a way to make that work was the tricky part. Once we all landed on Kickstarter, it was all an unknown what would happen. we had faith in the project but ultimately we didn’t know if everyone else would. it was really great watching the reactions to it.

The timing also had to work out with our and Tyrone’s schedules. Tyrone was on tour and launching his new album so we had to wait for that to settle. We had some projects going on as well, so it was a hectic time.

The Whatamagump is a lovable, timid, and adorable creature. Is there anything about this character that won’t make it into the book?

GB: As for who or what he is, it is kind of a mystery. In the shop we called him “Gump.” Not sure if he likes that or not. He is a little magical and comes from a world where monsters aren’t so rare or scary.

What about Julie’s backstory?

GB: Julie is a huge fan of monsters and fairy tales and dinosaurs. Her favorite fake show/movie franchise is called Dinos for Cars. She’s got all the toys and books and probably watches the movie at least once a week. We never mention it but you can see her fandom showing in her bedroom.

What scale is this project in?

BM: It’s 1:6-1:7th scale or so, which is generally the size for stop motion. It’s an excellent scale in that it has the charm of being miniature, but things are still big enough that you can build lots of great detail into your pieces and at a reasonable pace and it all translates comfortably to close up photography.

Are all the miniature props used in The Whatamagump made by hand? Is the work of any other mini artist featured?

BM: Nearly everything is completely fabricated by hand from raw material: compressed foam board, wood, Styrene, paper, brass, etc. I think the only place we are making an exception and used something ‘off the rack’ is the Whatamagump and Julie’s eyeballs. They are so affordable and style-wise exactly what we needed that it just made more sense and saved a lot of time.

Our development photos include fabric and sewing work by our friend Brandi – she did all the bedding, pillows and curtains. Our friend Leigh, a scenic painter from LAIKA, also popped by to check things out and wound up getting her hands dirty by painting the walls.

It’s kind of funny – we had LAIKA expats from Coraline, ParaNorman, Boxtrolls, and Kubo working with us, as well as a few amazing artists we’ve worked with in the commercial industry. Quite an incredible crew – we’re very fortunate!

GB: We try to make everything we can by hand. We use any trick we can to make things. We make molds and patterns so we can replicate things that would otherwise take too long to achieve. We kit bash sometimes and have been known to use laser cutting from time to time.
A few artists joined on the production: sculptors, mold makers, painters, and seamsters. These are people in the art community and people we’ve worked with on various jobs around town.

We knew that we would need help to make the book in a reasonable time and it was always the plan to bring in the local talents.

What was the very first miniature you made for The Whatamagump?

BM: Our very first miniature was Julie’s dresser, I believe. Greg designed it and I built it. It actually had a vanity mirror attached to it for a while, but we ditched that idea because mirrors are notorious for causing camera and lighting problems.

How many Julie and Whatamagump figures exist? 

BM: Besides the 4 prototype Whatamagumps (initial prototype and 3 contest giveaway dolls) and 1 completed Julie (prototype), we’ve got 25 Gumps sculpted and painted by Greg.

Julie is a little easier, but still requires wigs and clothing to be sewed. We made them modular so that we could mix and match parts for different scenes. Resin castings were modified with Dremel tools and Magic Sculpt or Pro Poxy in order to make their expressions and poses appropriate for each specific shot.

Will a Whatamagump figurine be available for sale in the future?

BM: Absolutely! Tyrone currently has the first prototype Whatamagump doll at his house. That’s the doll you’ve seen in all of our pictures leading up to Kickstarter. I think it’s a fitting home – his kids love having it too!

How can fans get their own copy of The Whatamagump book? 

BM: People can pre-order the first edition copy of the book now.

Favorite (children’s) books?

BM: Where the Wild Things Are, Dr. Seuss, and Shel Silverstein’s work are my favorites. Goodnight Moon has become a nostalgic favorite too, after reading it many times to both of my children when they were little.

GB: Anything with dinosaurs, The Mouse and His Child, and anything with spaceships. I read a lot of Andre Norton as a kid but the one that started it was the The Day of the Ness. My all time favorite (I still have my original copy) is One Monster After Another by Mercer Mayer.

Career highlights you’d like to recount?

BM: Boxtrolls, Häagen-Dazs commercial, Rival Sons, and The Whatamagump of course!

GB: The previously mentioned Serenity, The Fountain, and ParaNorman also getting to work on a Star Trek movie. Winning a Visual Effects Society award for outstanding miniature for a Halo 3 commercial. And getting to make this book — it’s something I’ve thought about for many many years.

What did you learn about Kickstarter fundraising?

BM: I would just encourage anyone who wants to do it to really develop a plan and consider yourself as having a second time job for the duration of the campaign. Just because you have a good idea and have supportive friends does not mean enough eyes will see it. It takes a lot of work and continual cultivation of your audience and leveraging your audience to find new supporters during a brief period of time. It’s exhausting!

What advice would you give to those with a passion for storytelling, songwriting, and singing?

BM: Keep doing it! If you haven’t started yet – start!

I think it is easy to discourage one’s self by admiring someone else’s work or music and think “I could never do that.” But the truth is – you totally can… but frankly, you have to be willing to suck at it first. Being diligent is the only way to improve and regardless of your age or background, you totally can!

What advice would you give to those interested in a career in film/TV set or prop design?

GB: It can be a very up and down industry. Learn as many tools, programs, techniques, and methods as you can. Be versatile.

BM: Top Ramen tastes better with Sriracha.

What about advice you’d give to mini-focused makers?

BM: Always look for new materials, tools and techniques to incorporate into your arsenal. They don’t have to be traditional either. When I go to the hardware store, I’m rarely looking for something that I will use for its intended purpose.

GB: Think about how you would replicate something at different scales. I don’t believe there is only one correct way to do any of it. There are a lot of great techniques out there but I like finding new ways to make things all the time. Whether it’s molding something with texture that would make an excellent miniature version of something completely different, or finding a tool that if used differently makes a neat result, sometimes it’s just a weird paint trick, thinking outside the normal box can get the neatest results.

Any miniaturists out there whose work you especially admire?

BM: Most of my association with miniaturists is related to stop motion. That said, co-workers on various jobs are always inspiring because everyone has their own way of doing things so it’s fun to pick up a new trick or two when I work with them.

I’ve really gotten in to our Instagram community too. I love Ryan Monahan of @what_thehell – his stuff is just incredible every time. He takes the detail and scale to a whole new level. And @damienjameswebb has been a blast to watch also. He’s amazingly prolific and his growth since he started his account is mind boggling. I also find his work to be really whimsical and fun too. @Axelortenblad is another one who blows me away. His stuff his museum quality – it’s perfect. His work on organic miniature sculpts in particular. There are really a ton of folks out there – too many to name.

GB: From the old days: Harryhausen, the original ILM guys and all the talented people that followed after. Many of the amazing people I’ve worked within the industry.

I’ve been following a few guys in Japan for a number of years: Yatasith, Rokugan, and Dorobou Hige. They do mostly kits featuring Star Wars and some Japanese sci-fi. They always amaze.

The amount of new artists I’ve seen in the past few years on Instagram, Facebook, and some of the art and model making sites has been amazing.

I’ve been enjoying the work of: FitchenFoo, Ellen Jewett, Daniel Agdag, Harry Arling, and Miss Monster.

What inspires you and keeps you creating? 

BM: I’m inspired by challenges. I get incredibly bored if I have to do something I’ve already done, be it a prop build or a project of one kind or another. I’m always looking for an opportunity to do or make something I’ve never seen before.

There was a musician I worked with when I was 19 who was 10 or 12 years older than I was at the time. He was talking about approaching instrumentation for a song and said, “I always look to the first thing that comes to mind and then try to come up with something completely different that still works.” I think I’ve carried that philosophy through my life with everything I’ve done since.

GB: I find most of my inspiration in dreams while sleeping. So naturally I’ve forgotten much of it.

Words you live by?

BM: Don’t know how to do it? Figure it out!

GB: Remain true.

What is the most memorable miniature you have ever seen by another artist?

BM: With platforms like Instagram and Facebook, I’m constantly exposed to others’ work that meets that description. I’m always humbled and inspired by the proliferation of talent out there.

GB: I think some of the work that Michihiro Matsuoka has been making fit into those categories. Also Ellen Jewett’s work is always inspiring and beautiful, unique, and odd.

What is your hope for the field of miniatures and mini prop making? 

BM: I’d love to continue seeing this resurgence we’re experiencing in handmade art. I feel like miniatures and their many applications are the perfect medium for it too. It’s pretty magical looking at a miniature that is sculpted well in that it skews the reality we’re all familiar with. Digital technology just doesn’t do it, at least for me. Handmade leaves a fingerprint of humanity and that’s what makes it special. I think support and interest in mediums like stop motion, dioramas, books, and places like dailymini that highlight these crafts are essential. There used to be this whole attitude of keeping trade secrets a secret, but I’m more of the mind that we should share it all so that more people are inclined to try making something too! It will keep pushing the medium into new places and hopefully more career opportunities for many passionate artists.

GB: I think there is a nice movement going on in the arts community right now, between the social media outlets exposure and the technology that’s becoming more readily available, I’ve seen a huge growth in the art and craft world with people trying the old standard techniques and the new digital options. The combining of the two seem to be taking on its own life.

I’m excited to see what sort of inventions spring out of what’s happening right now. I think the trick is not relying on the technology to replace creativity, but creatively using the technology to find new tricks.

What’s to come from Tyrone Wells and Broken Eagle Studio? 

BM: Well right now, the art production, layout and music are 100% done. We’re working on the type treatment and taking extra care to make sure it is as good as it can possibly be. The team is now working together to refine story text details, getting the photos cleaned up and laying the book out for print. Lighting and photography officially wrapped in June. We started production on January 23 this year, but we’re still a few weeks away from having a book in hand. We’ve kicked around other ideas for the future, but I think right now we’re all just focused on the task at hand. We’ve actually been working on The Whatamagump in some capacity since August 2015. We’re just excited to finally be finishing it for real now!

What’s to come from The Whatamagump team?

BM: That depends on the interest and success of the book. We certainly hope to get some interested from some big players in publishing and distribution. If success and interest allow it, a sequel would definitely be fun!

Would you like to share a dailymini exclusive with readers?

BM: I’ve only been working professionally for 5 years. I’m totally self taught, never went to school, and made the career jump around age 35 with a wife and two kids. If I can do it, so can you!

Prior to that, I was in the mortgage and real estate industry and database development. Prior to art, my creative medium was always music. I began playing guitar at age 11 and have recorded 3 full length albums (I dare you to find the music videos on YouTube) and sat in on a number of other sessions too. Life has not been dull.

GB: I’ve been doing this sort of thing all my life, professionally for 20 years. I often forget that what I do isn’t normal. But it should be.

Broken Eagle, LLC is the team of Bryan McIntyre and Greg Boettcher, who are based in Portland, Oregon. Their new book, The Whatamagump, a picture book for kids and art lovers about a nervous monster who finds his courage with the help of his friend, a scrappy little girl named Julie with a warm heart and a taste for adventure. The book was written by acclaimed singer and songwriter Tyrone Wells and is scheduled for release in December 2017. Order your copy today! To learn more about their Whatamagump project, visit their website. You can also follow along on Instagram and Facebook. For more information on their Kickstarter campaign, click here.

Daily Mini Interview: Miniature Modern Model Houses by Marion Russek

Marion Russek’s 1:12 Scale Modern Model Houses

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What’s your earliest memory with miniatures?

Building room boxes with cardboard when I was 8 or 9 years old…

How did you first get started making miniatures?

Life was busy… and I only picked up minis again about 5 years ago when I saw a half-finished dollhouse kit in a friend’s studio in Tirol. During the drive back to Switzerland I realized what I wanted to do!

What is your favorite type of miniature to make?

My style is contemporary and I want an interior or garden with style, design, function and coziness — all combined without refurbishing my home constantly.

There are no favorites, because each mini I make requires different skills — and sometimes new skills like vacuum forming. This is the exciting part about making minis.

Tell us a bit about the 3D furniture you’ve developed. How has it been working with the Shapeways team?

The mini scene seems to be mainly Victorian and a bit of retro but very little modern. I simply could not find what I wanted, especially chairs… And then who wants to do 6 of the same thing? It would be boring, so 3D was the solution. I did not want to spend even more time on the computer and got myself designers to help me.

I print with Shapeways because a home printer can never produce the quality and details they can with their high-end technology. Granted, it is not cheap, but it is worth it. The collection grew and I decided to offer these models to other modern mini enthusiasts as well by opening my shop on Shapeways. The mark-up on the items is very moderate and it certainly is not a business. But then, this was not the idea behind it…

What do you do professionally when you’re not making miniatures?

…because I earn my living by headhunting specialists for employers. I have had my own business for about 20 years with fantastic customers — some of them became very close friends. I simply love what I am doing!

Favorite miniature you own?

Dorota from Minifanaberia is my benchmark. Her work is exquisite!! But there are many others like Pipi Turner, Nunu’s House, etc. For more, check out my Pinterest boards!

How do you get ideas for your dollhouse scenes?

The scenes are from real life, as we live today. I am not a decorator who changes scenes regularly — even in my own home. But I see architecture I like! And that is what gets my imagination going. I design a house with my software, including very detailed electrical drawings, and then I build it! The house can be in any style (maybe even one day a Victorian one!) but the inside must be contemporary.

What is the most memorable miniature you have ever seen?

I love Kari Bloom‘s colorful creations!

Why miniatures? 

Finding solutions to problems is what excites me. ‘Won’t work’ is a no-go for me! There is always a way to make things work. For instance: I could not place the laundry area in the house I am working on right now. It took me about 2 weeks to figure out how I could enlarge the kitchen without changing the facade or floor plan. If I cannot find the solution instantly, I allow myself time so that ideas can develop.

What’s to come from Marion Russek?

I am working on a minimalistic wood house; some great architects all over the world are focusing on this kind of building style. It takes a special kind of personality to live in a house like this because you are extremely limited with decorating. Just hanging a painting needs careful planning so that the minimalist and wood concepts still work. It is totally exciting!

Other hobbies you enjoy?

I was probably standing right in front of the line when energy was distributed. I am always up to something: writing articles for our professional association, improving the watering system in my garden, going to open-air concerts and theater, swimming in our lake, skiing (but only in perfect weather conditions), coaching immigrants, going to mini shows (now this is an excellent reason for traveling), playing online games for years… the list is endless.

But when I am working on a model, I can literally spend an entire weekend in the studio! I love rainy weekends.

Marion Russek is based in Steinhausen/Zug, Switzerland. To shop her 1:12 scale modern model houses on Shapeways, head here. See more of her miniature creations on the Marion Swiss blog and make sure to follow along: InstagramPinterestYouTube, and Facebook.

Daily Mini Interview: Miniatures by The Clay Kitchen

Miniatures by The Clay Kitchen and “Clay Girl”

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What’s your earliest memory with miniatures?

My earliest memory is when I went to a glassblowing place and they had tiny figures of animals made from glass. They were all piled in a bowl. I remember being fascinated by them and how they clinked together when sorting through them. I bought a bunch.

How did you first get started making miniatures?

I first got started because I used to go to occupational therapy because I have really weak muscles. They made me knead a type of putty to build strength in my hands. That was really boring, so I started making little “meals” out of the putty. I’ve since left the putty behind. Hey, polymer clay keeps me toned!

Do you remember the very first miniature you ever made? 

I made a slice of watermelon. I thought it was the greatest thing. My mom still has it.

What is your favorite type of miniature to make?

I love making food the most. I enjoy it because with each try I challenge myself to see how realistic I can make it. I also enjoy it because I spend a lot of time with my grandma, who loves to cook. I often try to make what she is making and she gets a kick out of it. After all, my clay station is in her kitchen next to the fridge.

What is the most challenging miniature to sculpt?

I find making meat, like steaks, the most challenging. I just can’t seem to capture the texture.

Maybe it’s because I’m a vegetarian.

What advice would you give to new miniaturists?

My advice would be to just keep working at it. Have fun.

All of my beginning pieces were pretty awful but I loved the intimacy of my little creations. I still need all the advice I can get. Right now it’s just trial and error.

What inspires you?

Donuts and nice people.

What is your hope for the field of miniatures? 

I hope that it becomes more popular and more accessible to people other than artisans and collectors.

Favorite miniature artists? 

Oh gosh, there are so many. Some of my favorites include minithaiss, handmademiniaturesbyalma, fairchildart, and sugarcharmshop.

Why miniatures?

There is something just fascinating about miniatures. As you work on them, or even look at them, your whole world scales down and you are drawn in. It’s like having an Alice in Wonderland moment without the “Eat Me” cake.

Miniatures appeal to me because I like people’s reaction to them and I also find making them very relaxing. Very zen some would say.

What’s to come from The Clay Kitchen and Clay Girl? 

Well, I am going to continue to try and get better. Practice makes perfect. I also have started to branch out and create objects, not just food. Currently, The Clay Kitchen is creating real estate inside of walnuts, stay tuned!

Words you live by?

“Love all, trust few, do wrong to none.” —William Shakespeare

Favorite miniature quote?

“Do small things with great love.” —Mother Teresa

Other activities you enjoy?

I love to read. I also enjoy drawing and doing absolutely nothing.

Anything else you want to add? 

With time, I hope I can find my place in the world of miniatures. I am just starting out and would love advice, feedback, and a little bit of love.

Would you like to share a dailymini exclusive with readers? 

Well, I just turned 13, so wish me luck!

The Clay Kitchen or “Clay Girl” was created by Malena S. who is based in the Bronx, New York. To see more of her miniature work, please follow along on Instagram and like The Clay Kitchen on Facebook.