Bubba’s Mini Country Cupboards
When I was a young girl, I use to visit my grandmother for the summer and helped her at antique shows. I was about 15 when I fell in love with a miniature ironstone chamber set. My grandmother purchased it for me in payment for my help at the antique show in Farmington. Later that summer, we visited a museum in New Hampshire where there were a couple of dollhouses on display. I couldn’t pull myself away, and everytime I looked, I saw something different. I was in awe. Many years later in about 1978 when I had two young girls, I came upon a Dollhouse Shop in Margate Florida, where I first met Tom and Leni Bishop. A few years went by and my husband was transferred to Vermont and there wasn’t a miniature shop around nor the Internet. I pursued another hobby, which was hand quilting. Once again we moved to Connecticut and I heard about a dollhouse show in Boston where I ran into Tom Bishop again after 20 years. This time nothing was going to stop me. My true passion had come full circle.
I have always loved country and primitive furniture, and decorated my dollhouse that way. I haven’t always made furniture. I started making fruits and vegetables and selling them on eBay making a good sum of money. I even tried my hand at making a doll or two, which I must say I will definitely leave that to the dollmakers. I didn’t start making furniture until I lost my miniature collection in a fire which was in December 2001. I still continued to collect accessories but had a very hard time finding country and primitive furniture. I decided to make my own cupboard with an exacto saw and miter box a very rough piece I have to add it wasn’t to scale. The drawers were too big, the doors hung crooked. I still have that first cupboard I ever made.
My very first show was in Sturbridge, Massachusetts in 2005, I attended the IGMA Guild School in Castine, Maine the following summer. I learned a lot of different techniques at Guild School. It is not just a place for artisans to get together but for anybody who has a passion for miniatures as I do. It’s a place to learn, meet new friends, see old friends, relax, and most of all have fun. The Guild has been a big part of my life since I joined.
What’s the value of IGMA membership?
In 2012, I received my Artisan status with the International Guild of Miniature Artisans. The Guild as a whole encourages and promotes artists in miniatures. The Guild means a great deal to me, and I am proud to be a member. I still find that I want to continue perfecting what I make, and with IGMA, I know I can!
Where does the name Bubba’s Minis come from?
I get asked all the time, “why the name Bubba?” My father first called me Bubba when I was a young teen. He had me lifting weights to build upper body strength for swimming. I was lifting the sofa with one hand when he walked into the room and he shouted out “that’s my Bubba” and the name has stuck. So when I started my business, I wanted a catchy name that people would remember. And so my father said, “why not Bubba’s Minis?”
What is the most memorable miniature you have ever seen?
The most incredible miniature I ever saw was a castle that was made, and each room in the castle was dedicated to different sins, such as gluttony, jealousy, etc… I really want to start making structures, but mostly run down and abandoned houses. I also would like to do a western town. Someday when I have the free time.
I was unable to attend this year’s Guild Show my son had the nerve to schedule his wedding that weekend, but I will be back for 2016 and I am looking forward to the show there is a lot of excitement in the air about the 2016 show.
When I am working with my miniatures or even playing with my miniatures, I enter a whole new world. I don’t think about anything but the task at hand. I enjoy it to escape; it is my own little sanctuary. I turn on the oldies and sing out loud and create. I would say that working with miniatures is therapeutic in many ways.
Advice for beginner artists and miniaturists?
My advice to beginner miniaturist is never give up! Find your niche and don’t be afraid to ask questions or for help. Asking for help was my biggest hurdle to cross, I was afraid of rejection like so many others are. But I have found out that the Guild and it’s members are more than happy to help a person to strive to do their best.
I always have something new up my sleeve. My newest creations will be debuted at the Chicago International Show in April. In the future, I will be selling completed roomboxes and vignettes along with my furniture and accessories. My very first one was bought by a very special person! I sold my second at the Philadelphia Miniaturia this year.
What do you want miniature friends to know about you?
People who know me know I have the gift of gab. I always try to have a smile on my face and not to be negative. When you’re negative, it has a trickle down effect. I am a very positive person and always, always look for the good in everybody. I love being with people.
Bubba’s Mini Country Cupboards is made possible by Barbara Vajnar, who lives in a very small, rural town in Lebanon, Connecticut, which has more cows than people. If you’re interested in seeing more works from Bubba’s Mini Country Cupboards, visit the Bubba’s Minis website or follow along on Facebook.