Daily Mini Interview: 19th Day Miniatures

19th Day Miniatures

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Mrs. Lovett’s meat pie counter.

What’s your earliest memory with miniatures?

I had a sort of underprivileged childhood, minis didn’t happen until I was in my thirties.

How did you first get started making miniatures?

I picked up a partially built dollhouse at a tag sale and began looking into how to finish and furnish it. My interest grew from there.

Do you remember the very first miniature you ever made?

My first miniature I ever made was a Professor Van Helsing study room set. There was a cabinet full of books and medical equipment, a desk and chair decorated with things a man would have on his desk, as well as a vampire hunter’s kit with wooden stakes, crosses, and more. There was also a caged bat. I no longer have the set because it sold quickly.

A Willy Wonka inspired candy cart filled with ice cream cones and candies of all sorts.

What is your favorite type of miniature to make?

Fantasy miniatures are my thing, because my childhood was very rocky, and fantasy books and movies were an escape for me as a child. Things like that hold my interest and make it so I get to use my imagination far more so than regular household miniatures ever could. In a way, it’s me staying childlike inside, holding on to that part of me now that I can enjoy it.

What is the most challenging miniature you make?

For me the most challenging miniature to make is a regular household item, as I said before. For me there is little scope for imagination and it feels very dull and boring to me. If I want to decorate a normal house, I have my own real house to work on instead.

What advice would you give to new artists?

I needed to figure things out for myself. The Internet is a vast place to learn almost anything. Don’t be afraid to experiment and try new techniques. Some of the most unique aspects of making miniatures distinctly mine came from trial and error. Necessity is indeed the mother of invention. I am especially proud of my own unique water effects. I came up with a layering process that makes water unlike others I have seen anywhere else. People stop in and ask me a few times a year to divulge that secret, but I worked hard for that knowledge and I like to keep it as my own.

A Harry Potter themed Christmas tree with gifts and an owl and golden snitch tree topper.

Favorite miniature you own?

My absolute favorite has to be a pie counter inspired by the movie Sweeney Todd. I built it from scratch from the ground up, and it was as close as I could possibly get it to the movie version. I made every tile by hand with clay. It was filthy and buggy and had human parts on it. It was gross, quite frankly because the movie version was utterly disgusting and I was following that example. And therefore totally fun because it wasn’t like anyone else’s pristine perfect miniature. That’s not the sort of thing that I enjoy. In my own house yes, but to me, miniatures are a way to step outside the box and create a fantasy world as unlike the real world as I can possibly get. Give me fairy, witch, wizard, haunted house, vampire, mermaid miniatures any day over the normal every day stuff our own lives are comprised of. Give me magic! I see beauty in the unusual even when it’s not considered beautiful at all.

What inspires you?

Movies are a large part of my inspiration. Fantasy movies are wonderful sources of ideas. My love of them makes me want to make the things I see in them to see if I can do it to my own satisfaction. I am my own worst critic.

my fairy house 10
Driftwood fairy cove house.

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

I greatly admire Ericka VanHorn‘s clean workmanship and unique pieces. Her dragon bottles are top notch and her wizard accessories are the best I’ve seen anywhere. She has no equal that I have seen.

Why miniatures?

The mental stimulation of creating something by hand is what calls to me. Something themed and fantasy inspired. No other medium allows me to create the scenes I have in my head like this does.

What’s to come from 19th Day Miniatures?

Wizard cabinet.

I have an Alice in Wonderland tea table I made as closely as I could to the one in the Tim Burton film with live actors. I feel intimidated by some of the characters (making people is not my strong suit). I made a decent and convincing Maliumpkin (doormouse) sculpted in clay, and then promptly quit because I felt burnt out. The table was huge and covered in lots of food and tea pots and cups. The majority of it, I handmade. I liked the old feel of it, as though the table had been there for a very long time. There was a shabbiness to it, the chairs were torn and faded. I copied everything as exactly as I could. I really need to work on it and get more of the characters done.

Words you live by?

Never lose your childlike enthusiasm, or be ashamed of what you like. If I want to watch fantasy films like Harry Potter, Labyrinth, or The Dark Crystal until the day I die, that’s exactly what I’m going to do. I’m nothing if not loyal to what I love and I will enjoy it forever more.

What do you want miniature fans to know about you?

A headless horseman on his horse sculpted by me and my mother-in-law as a fun Halloween project one year.

I really enjoy my relationship with clients, I honestly do. I have kept in contact with many of them through the years and we touch base every so often to catch up. I enjoy friendly conversation and finding out about their projects. As a seller, I feel I am above average, because I give the best gifts I can with orders. There have been many times I have spent an evening or even two making a gift for a client that matches what they ordered. I enjoy it. I tend to charge less for pieces as well because for me, it’s less about the money and more about the craft and enjoyment of it. I want someone to have it, to be able to afford it. I also do payment plans for this very reason. If someone really wants something and will love it, I want them to be able to get it.

Miniatures are not about getting rich, they are about the joy of creation and the enjoyment of making something someone else will cherish and use for purely fun reasons only. They take me a lot of time and work to make. I want them to go to a good home with someone who will enjoy them.

Tara of 19th Day Miniatures is based in Oquawka, IL. Shop her latest creations on Etsy today! Have a look at what she’s been up to by visiting the 19th Day Miniatures blogTwitter or Pinterest.