What does “Petit Plat” mean?
It literally means “Little Plate” in French, but more figuratively translates to “a nice meal.”
How did you first get started in miniatures? In the summer of 2007, when still a student, I failed to find a summer job and went to stay with my parents. After two days, I realized I had to spend my time doing something crafty, so I looked on the Internet for a new craft or art of some kind. At that point in time, I had already tried various activities, such as beading, painting, knitting, and drawing. Being creative was a big part of my life.
By chance, I stumbled upon a miniature mango cake and thus discovered the world of miniatures, and more specifically, the world of miniature food. This wasn’t something I was completely new to, as I did sculpt miniature food for my barbie dolls as a child. I had just forgotten about that hobby. So, after a bit more research on how to get started, I was out and about, purchasing some fimo clay. And from there, the passion started to grow.
What types of miniatures do you make these days? Almost only food. I completed a series on miniature coral for art jewelry pieces, and I loved that too. And, I love buildings, so I like to work on this as well, though I rarely find the time. No figures or flowers so far. Don’t have interest in sculpting either of these.
Right now I’m working on a daily challenge where I sculpt one fruit or vegetable each day. Exhausting at times, but mostly fun and my skills are evolving faster. You can follow along each day at dailyminiveggie.tumblr.com!
How long have you been creating miniatures?
I really started to sculpt on a regular weekly basis in 2008. Before that time, it was more playing than anything else.
Do you create and sell miniatures on a full-time basis?
Yes, I do. I also sell a lot of miniature food jewelry as well.
How has your work evolved over the years?
I create a great deal of miniature jewelry, as it’s the easiest for me to handle, since I’m able to replicate pieces. As for miniature food, this evolved based on my own interest.
What materials do you use to make your miniatures?
For food miniatures, I almost exclusively use polymer clay. For a whipped cream effect, I’ll use air dry clay. For other scenes or props, I use wood, paper, and anything else I find that might work.
Advice for beginner artists?
Follow your own path and obsessions. Work hard, improve a lot, but also rest. Enjoy this, and if you don’t enjoy it, just leave it be. Success is only possible if you’re passionate about what you do, as it’s the only way you will work really hard to make it work. And of course, the usual: find your own style and twist it to be unique. Don’t just become another artist making the same things that all other artists do. Not saying that this is necessarily bad; we all need to copy first in order to learn and make something original and many will only sculpt for themselves. However, if your goal is to live from your work, then you’ll need skills and ideas.
Tool you can’t live without?
What artists do you look to for inspiration?
Oh, there are so many! Kandinsky is on my wall, so he has to be the first, but I enjoy colorful abstraction in general. I very much like street art these days. I love graffiti artists Os Gêmeos, but there are many unknown ones too. I like to browse the site Colossal for new art finds.
Lori Nix made a series about a forgotten world that is brilliant. This brings me to my love for forgotten and abandoned buildings. I’ve visited and photographed a few with my mother. I love the raw honesty of those places. Still thinking of showcasing these pictures online, but then I don’t always have time to showcase all the stuff I do.
As a general rule, I like art when it’s colorful and/or miniature.
What types of miniatures do you make these days?
I specialize in making realistic food miniatures which I then turn into all kinds of fun jewelry to wear such as necklaces, earrings, and jewelry clips. I even have a “Gifts for Guys” section in my store where you can find mini food cufflinks and tie clips.
What materials do you use to make your miniatures?
I primarily use high-quality polymer clay. In order to turn a plain little block of clay into something extraordinary, I have tons of random tools that I’ve been collecting for years and years. These help me capture just the right look, shape, style, and texture in my art.
When did you first start making and selling miniatures?
I began sculpting at the age of 7, and used to make miniature turtles with my best friend. Can’t say whether I made anything that looked like a turtle, but once I realized I could create something with a lump of clay, I was hooked. My mom bought me plasticine and Play-Doh as well as Barbara Reid’s book, Fun With Modeling Clay. I would spend hours trying to make the little things featured in that step-by-step book. Since Play-Doh dries out and hardens, it was a more durable material to use when making miniatures. I decided to start making small parrots as gifts for my family and friends. Thankfully those creations actually resembled parrots!
I continued practicing with plasticine throughout my childhood and into my teen years. I had clients from Best Online Casino and other Canadian internet companies. Shortly thereafter, I discovered polymer clay which is a very durable material. Thus this provided me with the option to make and sell dollhouse miniatures—and that’s what I did. I opened a dollhouse miniature company called “Miniatures For Everyone!” and successfully sold 1:12 scale dollhouse miniatures for many years.
Most recently, I decided to move into the world of jewelry because so many of my family and friends expressed their wishes to wear the miniatures I had created. Sounds simple enough to turn a hand-sculpted miniature into jewelry, right? Not at all. I firmly believe that if I’m going to sell a product to consumers, it needs to be of high quality. That means it not only has to look incredible, but it has to also be crafted with high-quality materials and must be durable. I launched my own product testing process to ensure whatever jewelry I sell meets my high standards.
I thoroughly enjoy the end-to-end process of sculpting miniatures. I am always so excited to hear feedback from my customers on how much they love their mini food jewelry. It makes my day!
What artists inspire you?
I’ve always looked up to Barbara Reid. She is a children’s book writer and illustrator, however she is no ordinary illustrator. She illustrates her books entirely with clay! Her work is breathtakingly amazing!
Do you have advice to share with fellow miniaturists just starting out?
If you want to become skilled at creating— at creating anything—it takes practice. There really isn’t a quick way about it. Your attitude can transform your first few attempts into either a miserable experience or a truly enjoyable journey! Approaching your creative project with a positive attitude will help you focus less on being perfect (which is not realistic) and more on just having fun. When you have fun, your creativity can soar!
Making mistakes on your creative project(s) may at first seem very disappointing. However, these “failures” or “mistakes” can ultimately be the key to discovering a brand new technique or style. It’s all part of the creative growth process. No matter who they are, every artist has an “uh-oh” pile. That pile of things we tried to create, that didn’t turn out so well. It’s okay. That’s how we all learn. Try not to dwell on the “uh-oh” pile. It will continue to grow, but again, that’s okay. You’ll grow as an artist along the way.
What’s your favorite miniature to make?
Cupcakes! I hand-frost each and every single one with my own frosting mix of Translucent Liquid Sculpey and polymer clay. I truly feel as if I’m a baker or cupcake designer. I’ve always wanted to work in a bakery, and, in a way, now I do! Best of all, my entire line of miniature sweet jewelry is calorie-free!!
Why miniatures? Why do you do what you do?
According to my mom, ever since I was a toddler I was fascinated with mini things. I would find the tiniest pieces of lint on the floor, pick them up and become so excited that I had to show my family. According to my family and friends, I’ve always been drawn to the tiniest of details and minutia, so it makes perfect sense that now I sculpt miniatures.
What appeals to you most about making miniatures?
I love inventing new miniature food jewelry designs. I enjoy adding my own signature twist to everyday food items. I run all of my new ideas past my husband who provides the best feedback. Running a business with my best friend has been absolutely awesome. I honestly could not head up little T studio without him.
Any tips on how to run a successful miniature business?
Think like a customer. If you think like a potential client or customer, your perspective can help you make the right decision. For example, if I were ordering jewelry online, I would want it to arrive in a playful, colored envelope with protective padding. Next, when I open the package, I would like to find a coupon for a future purchase, a thank you note, a free gift, and my order beautifully gift-wrapped with matching hand-tied ribbons and tissue paper. And that is exactly what my customers get when they place an order with little T studio. I would want to feel as if I just received a thoughtful present. Gifts are so fun to receive! And so, I work diligently to ensure it feels the same way for my little T studio customers. Their entire experience with my miniature jewelry company should be fun, easy, and enjoyable. This is my way of saying thank you for supporting my online jewelry store!
Which do you love more: miniature sweets or edible desserts?
This question is torture! It’s my love for edible desserts that inspires my creativity to make miniature sweets. These really have to go hand-in-hand with one another, or else I couldn’t sculpt something cute, adorable, and miniature. I suppose if I had to choose… I would say both! That’s technically a choice, right?
Tonya is currently based in Arizona, U.S. For more of her deliciously awesome miniature adventures, head to Instagram, YouTube, shop her store (international shipping available), or check out her website.
What types of miniatures do you make? Right now, I primarily make food miniatures and cute charms. I’m currently considering other kinds of miniatures such as furniture, household items, and more.
What materials do you use to make miniatures? I frequently use polymer clay for my miniatures, but sometimes I will use other materials such as paper, metal, and wood.
How long have you been working with miniatures? From 2010 to 2013, I created super simple miniatures out of air dry clay. In November 2013, I began experimenting with polymer clay which led to much more detailed and smaller miniatures.
Advice for new miniaturists and beginner artists? Be positive! To me, positivity is one of the key things to working with miniatures. Your attitude will shine through in your creation, so you should never go into a project with negative feelings.
Favorite miniature you own or have made? My favorite miniature I’ve ever made is a brownie with ice cream! It was featured by the award-winning cooking site, Food52!
Oddest miniature you have ever seen? The strangest miniature I have ever seen is a tiny box of tampons by Magpies Miniatures!
Why miniatures? I love seeing miniatures and I love making miniatures. When I was younger, I used to love Re-Ment Miniatures and mini erasers. I still do! When I discovered that I could create miniature things on my own, it immediately motivated me. I got so excited that I could make my own unique miniatures without relying on other brands or stores. Miniatures are very appealing to me. I find them to be fascinating and so cute!
What other hobbies do you have? I love drawing, decorating, and photography. Recently I’ve taken up baking!
Anything else you would like to add? Thank you for interviewing me! I really love the concept of dailymini as a place to share miniatures from around the world. Thanks to those of you reading this and stay tuned for news of my Etsy shop!
Thanks for checking out the latest Daily Mini interview! For more remarkable miniatures by Canada’s ChocoMintCandy, visit Instagram.
I create a variety of miniature pieces such as sweets and desserts, books, furniture, architecture, crochet, and restoration pieces.
What different kinds of materials do you use to make your miniatures?
I use what I have around me: paper leftovers, wire, fabric scraps, paints, and more. I support ecological and green design. For miniature food, I’ve discovered that I feel more confident using air-dry clay. Fimo Light is the brand that I’m currently using.
How long have you been working with miniatures?
I’ve been creating pieces for the past 5 years or so. But the passion began when I was 12 years old and it wasn’t until I was 18 that I began collecting miniature pieces.
What accounts or artists do you look to for inspiration?
What advice would you share with new miniaturists and artists?
Be patient. Always use a reference for your work. Remember that imperfection is the secret to achieve perfection and realism. Be creative! Use what you have around you, and your “mini” eye will slowly develop.
What’s new on your end?
I’m currently working on my first book! I’d like to show others how to create different kind of miniatures, architecture, decorations, and more.
What is your favorite miniature that you own or have made?
My favorite miniature is an old, French-style cottage room box that I made sometime ago. I tried many different techniques and that allowed me to learn a lot through the process. In fact, I’m still adding details to it from time to time!
Do you create miniatures full-time?
No, I don’t. But I love running my Etsy shop and have to say that it’s been doing well. It took time and I’m very happy with it at the moment!
What appeals to you most about what you do?
The possibility of recreating a world in small scale is inherently appealing. And so is the amount of imagination I have to use every day to be able to do it!
What is the most unique miniature you have ever seen?
The coolest miniature I’ve ever seen was Colleen Moore’s Fairy Castle. The sheer amount of one-of-a-kind pieces and the degree of craftsmanship is simply beyond amazing! As for the strangest and most remarkable miniature I’ve ever seen… this would have to be medical equipment done by Northern Lites.
What are some other hobbies you enjoy?
I love reading! I also enjoy cooking, costume design, gardening, watching movies, and going to the park for a run.
The brand has since been met with great enthusiasm and delight by fellow miniacs. I’m fortunate enough to feature a new miniature each day and am thrilled to share my beloved minis with an international audience. I’m most of all humbled by the community’s response and the amazing range of mini submissions received on a daily basis.
This curated digital space is a tribute to the mini collection that started it all. The Daily Miniature is not only a portable source of miniatures, but a permanent (per·mini·nt) one.