Daily Mini Interview: Miniature Crayon Carvings by Wax Nostalgic

Wax Nostalgic Crayon Carvings

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poohHow did you first start making miniature crayon carvings?

When I was in dental school, I saw the work of another artist who carved some things out of crayons. This struck me because I was already doing similar work in school where we had to carve teeth out of wax. I wanted to give it a try then, but I was just too busy at the time. It wasn’t until a few years later after I withdrew from dental school that I had an opportunity to try it. My friend was putting on a small art show and invited me to participate. I remembered the crayon carvings I saw earlier so I gave it a try and the rest was history.

Do you remember the very first carving you ever made? Do you still have it?

The first thing I remember carving was in the sixth grade. We were studying ancient Egypt. As a related art activity, we had to carve sphinxes out of a bar of soap. Many students ended making very flat soap bar shaped sphinxes. I realized though to carve an accurate sphinx, I had to cut it in half lengthwise in order to get the right proportion to make the sphinx.starwars The only tools we were allowed to use were paper clips so maybe that’s why others were less aggressive with their carving. However, I was always a perfectionist and apparently good at visualizing things in three dimensions in my head from a young age. The sphinx turned out well and I ended up giving it to another student. Even if I had kept it, I doubt soap is a very long lasting medium.

The first crayon carving I did ended up being a pink horse. I wanted to do a test run before making what I was planning for that first art show. I figured I wasn’t going to use the pink crayon so I chose that color to use. I thought about what I could make that was pink and a unicorn popped in my head. I soon decided that the horn might be challenging so I skipped that part and just made a horse. This carving I still have.


What themes do you enjoy covering in your work?

I have a heavy interest in pop culture so making anything in that realm is satisfying, especially if I personally like the subjects. This can include sources like movies, television, cartoons and comic books. I tend to mainly create carvings for other people so I don’t always have control of what I make. However, I’m satisfied if I feel like I’ve done a good job.

gameofthronesWhat’s the most challenging aspect of creating a miniature crayon carving?

One challenging aspect is how I add the extra colors on my crayons. Most people assume I paint the crayons. I’m a purist though so I actually melt and apply wax from other colored crayons drop by drop. After it cools, I can smooth it out or carve as needed. A complication with this process though is the fact that the melted wax I’m adding often melts the underlying wax slightly. This can cause the colors to blend which is usually never wanted. Whenever this happens, I have to carve all the wax away and try again until it’s applied cleanly. This can be a tedious process, but it’s manageable.

batmanCan you describe the care process for owners of your work?

I sometimes get asked about issues with crayons melting. Crayola states that the melting temperature is around 120 to 150 degrees (I guess depending on the color). Those are conditions that most people do not live in. I’ve shipped out hundreds of crayons from Australia to Arizona and I’ve never heard from anyone about their crayons melting. They can get dusty though so I also sell glass tubes to keep them in. Of course, crayons are somewhat fragile so dropping them from a height is not advisable.

What advice would you give to new artists? 

This advice is less about creating art and more about marketing yourself. If you want to get your work seen by a large audience, you have to embrace social media. It’ll help you build an audience who will in turn hopefully share your work with others. Making art can be a lonely process but knowing that people out there appreciate your work is great motivation to continue doing so. Find a site or app that works for you (or use them all) and post regularly to keep your fans engaged. Use hashtags.

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

There are a variety of artists who carve amazing things out of pencil lead. I’ve wanted to try it myself but it’s somewhat intimidating considering the immense skill they exhibit.

Why miniature crayon carvings? 

One reason is that there aren’t a lot of artists who carve crayons so it makes it easier to stand out. There are many artists in the world doing many different types of work so it’s important to try to stand out. You either have to do something unique or do something very well. With my years of working with crayons, I’ve been able to do a little of both. Crayons are also something that almost everyone has some experience with. They know how small they are and how fragile they can be. This gives them a greater appreciation of what I do. There’s also the nostalgia factor of taking something everyone grew up with and using it a whole new way.

pugWhat’s to come from Wax Nostalgic?

I’m always creating new carvings. People request custom orders all the time so I never know what I’ll be making next. That, along with art shows I participate it, makes sure I never get bored with what I do. I get asked a lot to share time lapse videos of myself carving so I think that’ll be something I look into in the future.

Words you live by?

Get busy living or get busy dying.

Other activities and hobbies you enjoy?

I’m a pretty big TV junkie. I enjoy reading fantasy novels. I like video games and board games but don’t often have time to play them.

Wax Nostalgic was created by Hoang Tran of Pittsburgh, PA. Originally from California, Hoang creates incredibly detailed miniature sculptures out of crayons. Follow along today on InstagramFacebook, and Tumblr. Buy your own Wax Nostalgic miniature crayon carving on Etsy!


Daily Mini Interview: Salavat Fidai Art

Miniatures by Salavat Fidai Art

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How and why did you first get started in pencil lead sculptures?

IMG_2318-HDSix months ago, I began to carve pencils after I was inspired by the work of Dalton Ghetti from the States. I had no experience before early 2015. Now, I really enjoy creating tiny sculptures on pencils. Mostly I’ve been sculpting heroes and cartoon characters.

Describe your process and inspiration.

The concept for my paintings or sculptures starts to take form while I’m asleep. The next day, I look for photos and video material, and then I make sketches or layouts. When I work with oil on canvas, it’s more emotional and expressive. If I paint acrylic on seeds, it’s hard work and more detail oriented. When I carve sculptures from pencils, it’s much more meditative.IMG_2972-2

I do a lot of reading, and go to other artists’ exhibitions. Sometimes it’s my dreams, sometimes it is the artwork of other artists, such as Vincent Van Gogh. I am inspired by music. I get most of my paintings done late at night when my family is asleep. I’m a total night owl. I find myself more productive and it’s much easier to focus at night.

Did you ever make miniatures in another medium?

Previously, I made sculptures out of wood and stone, but these were of normal size. I also create miniatures on seeds and matchbooks.

IMG_2787-HDWhat has been the most difficult miniature sculpture to carve?

I tried Darth Vader seven times. Some Vader heads broke during the carving. It took so many tries to achieve a final product I liked, and now I love it!IMG_2327-HD

Favorite artists?

Vincent Van Gogh and Claude Monet.

What inspires you?

Good movies, books by contemporary authors, Marvel and DC comics, Pixar Animation Studios, and more great artwork.

Most treasured pencil tip sculpture you’ve created?

IMG_2528-hdWALL-E and the PPSH-41 gun.

What tools do you use to make your sculptures?

Small, sharp craft knifes and a magnifying glass.

Tool you can’t live without?

Maybe my craft knife or my favorite brush, Kolinsky Sable number 0. I experiment with different tools, but I think I would be happy creating art out of anything.

Upcoming exhibitions planned?IMG_2462-HD

Yes, of course. Big exhibitions in China and Italy.

New sculptures you’d like to mention?

It’s a secret. All I will say is “large sculptures and installations.”

What other activities do you enjoy?

IMG_2963-2Spending time with my family: going to the cinema, walking, and hiking.

Advice for beginner artists?

Do not be afraid to experiment with new materials. View more work by other artists and learn from them.

Salavat hails from Ufa in Russia. For more of his incredible micro-mini sculptures, visit his website, shop on Etsy, check out Instagram, Facebook or Behance.



Daily Mini Interview: Miniature Woodcarving by Steve Tomashek

Miniatures by Steve Tomashek

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How did you first get started in woodcarving?

My family always had an affinity towards the arts. As the youngest of seven, I was exposed to a lot of different art forms as a child. Carving was one of them. My father used to carve duck decoys, and I would recreate these in miniature form. As a young boy, I had an interest in war figurines, so I used to carve miniature tanks and airplanes out of wood. Later, I’d make carvings for my Grandma. lemur

With a burgeoning interest in sculpture and painting, I attended Indiana University where I further developed my woodcarving craft. My passion grew and has remained throughout my life. I was a sculptor and a painter, and I was able to unite my passions with a focus in miniature. At that particular time, I worked in miniature because the materials were more affordable in a smaller size. When your art is small-scale, you don’t need a lot of space and you don’t need as many tools or materials. I used a Swiss Army Knife at that time.

I majored in History, which opened me up to the extensive world of carving and the history of woodcarving across cultures. Many cultures are inspired by the animal form in art and nearly every major artist has also studied animal forms – Franz Marc, for one.

What materials did you use for your first carvings?

As a child, my father and I mostly carved out of basswood. We had two basswood trees in our front yard, but would pick up carving-ready wood (cut and dried) from local lumberyards.

Describe your creative process.foxsketch

I always sketch out my work before I begin to carve a piece of wood. I’m constantly sketching in a drawing book which helps with my creative vision for a piece. Even if I’m designing something from scratch, I also draw up a sketch first.

I frequently receive international orders from different kinds of collectors who still provide me with the artist freedom to put my own spin on a commission. One collector in particular has amassed nearly 100 of my works over 15 years or so, and she may advise a preferred size of a carving, but allows me to determine the color palette or style. I’m working on a set of chicks at the moment to complement a collector’s recently purchased chicken miniature; for this piece, I’ll be able to run with the color and style.chickenlittle

How has your work evolved?

I’ve become more deft at executing miniatures, so the amount of time it takes has been greatly reduced. Whenever I used to miscarve work in my earlier years, I would seamlessly turn the wood into something else. I miss that. Nowadays, I don’t make errors anymore.

For the past 20 years, I’ve been carving wood. Just recently, I have finally begun work on larger-scale sculptures and miniature scenes in boxes. One of my favorites is of a coral reef with fish swimming. My plan is to continue these into the future.reefsquirrel

Tool or technique you can’t live without?

These days, I work with the best knives for wood. When at school in Indianapolis, I attended a woodcarving show and there met a Lyons knife maker there who I still continue to use today.

Carving is relatively easy. There are three different types of woodcarving cuts: pull cut, push cut, and a stop cut. I’d highly recommend reading The Big Book of Whittling and Woodcarving Paperback by E. J. Tangerman. Chances are, you can check out this book at your local library. And, it’s likely the book hasn’t been taken out in the past year!

Non-mini artists, designers, books you look to for inspiration?

cowmilkTwo traditions close to my heart are Zuni fetishes and Oaxacan wood carvings. The Zuni animal fetishes are roughly the same size as my works (ranging in approximately 1-2 inches) and these are made out of semi-precious stones. Some Zuni works are abstracted forms. As for the Oaxacan wood carvings, these are a tabletop size and characterized by a free palette. These artists’ creations range from the more crude to the truly magnificent. I’ve sort of married these two traditions, Zuni and Oaxacan, to create my own style. I’ve allowed myself to use a free palette and range of colors when painting.

Miniaturists that inspire you?

Netsuke, 17th century Japanese miniature sculptures. They took the carving craft to a new, polished level and truly perfected that form.

Are you a collector of miniatures yourself?pins&needles

Artists are the biggest collectors of their own work. I learned this at an early age, when my room was filled with paintings by my brother and father. It’s convenient to collect and keep my own carvings since they do not take up much space at all! Occasionally I will share miniatures with friends as a gift, or will trade with other artisans.

Why woodcarving? What appeals to you most about what you do?

I am a sculptor and painter because there are things I want to say that there aren’t words for. The very act of carving wood is now something that I need. When I don’t carve, I feel that something is lacking from my day to day. Woodcarving is both my meditation and my medication. My mind enters a different zone and I can tune out the rest of the world when I’m working on a piece. I use magnification on my pieces, so the act of carving truly blocks out everything else but the microcosm I’m working on.

1427481440Carving every day provides a rhythm to my life. Previously, I would carve for 12-16 hours at a time and then crash. I have found a better balance today where I can divide my time between other projects. I enjoy writing, working on projects in the garden, and spending time with my wife and animals. I work on blog posts quite often, and have been steadily making progress on a second book. This book will speak to the intersection of art and craft.

Most beloved miniature you’ve created?

I still have a chess set I carved for myself in college. And I particularly love the Peanut Gallery carving I made a few years ago—I keep it here in my studio.


What’s to come from Steve Tomashek?

I’m excited to move into my new woodcarving and art studio! There I’ll begin work on more large- and medium-scale pieces. I’ve worked in so many small studio spaces over the years, that it will be nice to have more room for my craft. Stay tuned for more on chainsaw carving!

Steve Tomashek lives in Germany, but is coming to the U.S. this summer to exhibit his miniature woodcarvings. For more on Steve’s colorful and whimsical menagerie, visit his website, shop the store, check out his blog, enjoy woodcarving videos on YouTube, or follow along on Twitter.

Photos taken in collaboration with Glenn Gordon.