Daily Mini Interview: Miniatures by Becca Design

Miniatures by Becca Design

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beccadesign_3How did you first get started in miniatures? 

I started when I was younger. I used to create small fruits and other decorations for my dollhouse using cernit polymer clay.

About six years ago, I launched an online store that sold jewelry charms in the shape of cupcakes and classic Swedish pastries (such as punch rolls and princess cakes). Most of the pastries I made had a little bite in them to reveal the content. At the time, I hadn’t seen anyone else making that before. Becca Design continued on from there, and I’ve since been making more and more miniature jewelry work.beccadesign_5

How has your work evolved?

I’ve been creating miniatures for about 6 years now. In the beginning, they had a more kawaii design with cute and rounded shapes. Now I’m trying to make my jewelry as realistic as possible.

Advice for beginner miniaturists?

Have patience and use material you’re comfortable working with. If you’re not satisfied with the result the first time, just try again, and again…

beccadesign_1Tool, material or technique you can’t live without?

Fimo clay, of course!

Non-miniature inspiration?

Candy stores and bakeries.

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

I like small things and I like to “fiddle” with things. Small things are cute. Small things make people happy.beccadesign_2

New minis in the works? What’s to come from Becca Design?

A new ice cream collection is on its way and also more miniature food!

Becca Design is managed by Rebecca Martinsson of Gothenburg, Sweden. You can see many (mini) more of her miniatures by visiting the Becca Design website, Becca Design blog, Instagram or Facebook.


Daily Mini Interview: Miniatures by Patricia Paul Studio

Miniatures by Patricia Paul Studio

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IMG_1965How did you first get started in miniatures?

I always loved the tiniest things ever since I was very small. I had a dollhouse and loved Barbie for all the wonderful accessories she had. Then as an adult I discovered a catalog devoted to miniatures and these were obviously nothing a child would play with. So it was evident that here was something serious going on, as far as creating these diminutive things, I wasn’t the only one enthralled with them, and I could acquire a wide variety of these artisan-made collectibles.

How has your work evolved?

I have been making miniatures for over 35 years now. I started making polymer clay vegetables. I put together some House of Miniatures kits and that taught me how furniture goes together and I made some of my own and some copies of antiques. I started making Noah’s arks and other toys and folk art. That was very popular years ago. I also started reproducing paintings in miniature from the masters, since I had an art background and knew painting basics. I have done some room boxes too. A haunted house. That’s where the spooky stuff came from. And now I am learning to sculpt and fur animals. I really can’t settle on any one thing.

IMG_7470What materials do you use to make your miniatures?

I am for sure a multi-media artist. I use all manner of supplies, wood, paint, polymer clay, fabric, and more.

Advice for beginner artists?

Pay attention to scale. Have a good look at top quality miniatures. You might not be there yet, but you can get there. And no bright colors. Tone them down for miniatures, otherwise they scream and don’t look real in the end.

Tool you can’t live without?

Probably a surgeon’s scalpel with a #11 blade. But I recently acquired a dentist’s drill and that’s a pretty cool tool with lots of possibilities for finishing and carving.

IMG_7475Non-mini artists, designers, books you look to for inspiration?

I have a collection of decorator books that are fun for inspiration. Not necessarily for anything I might reproduce but more for getting the creative juices flowing. And Pinterest is magical for sparking ideas. Anything full size can be pulled off in miniature. I think that is half the wonder of miniatures. Seeing something you are familiar with in a size a fairy might need.

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

Oh, gosh! There are so many exceptional miniatures that I have seen over years of collecting. But probably the one who sticks out foremost would have to be Frank Matter, who passed away in the 70’s (I have been meaning to blog about him for some time now). I read an article about him years ago in which was described some items he made. One in particular was a fountain pen. Most people are probably not even aware that those pens had to be filled from an ink well and the ink went into a rubber bladder. They are pretty much antiques now. (They are even before my time.) Anyway, Frank had made an exact copy in miniature with the rubber bladder. That actually worked. I managed to get a few pieces of his work and I don’t think anyone comes up to the perfection he was able to create.

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

IMG_6238As I mentioned, tiny things have always fascinated me. And they certainly don’t take up much space. But in truth, they are like any piece of art anyone might make. You can paint, sculpt, fabricate, carve, solder, print, and more. You can copy full size pieces, reproduce growing things, people and animals and you can also come up with any flight of fancy that crosses your mind. I get to do all of those things and that makes for some serious fun. For me, anyway. Plus, miniatures are a lot easier to sell than full size art and you get a lot of happy customers and you feel like you are making the world happy without having to suffer trying to get into a gallery.

Upcoming shows or projects planned? What’s to come from Patricia Paul?

I don’t have any shows planned in the near future. So much easier to work in PJ’s and then sell stuff in PJ’s. But I will probably do the International Guild of Miniature Artisans Guild Show again at some point. Halloween is coming and I love adding items to my Haunted Housewares line of miniatures. Not really a line since everything is one of a kind, but I do enjoy haunting stuff. And Halloween is almost here.

IMG_7474Other activities you enjoy?

I think miniatures have made me kind of one dimensional. I love museums, history — only because of my interest in costumes and decorative arts, and travel to places where I can see those things. I love military museums. Not for battle strategy and the impact of wars, but rather the fabulous uniforms of the past. My kids are grown now, (but still here eating the food and using the laundry room). I have three dogs to dote on and they are all spoiled.

What do you want miniature fans to know about you?

I have a newsletter that goes out very infrequently and would love to have The Daily Miniature readers subscribe. Right now they will get a free book-making tutorial and I have plans to keep adding freebies that will go out to any new subscriber and the entire list. Just go to my website and plug in your email.

I am very interested in Internet marketing as well and am working on a course for miniaturists to use the Internet to market their business pretty much for free. I hate the meme “artists starve.” Miniatures have always been popular through the ages and I believe, thanks to the Internet, a lot of interest is being generated in a lot of young people. I want miniature artisans to be able to reach them even if they are not Internet savvy. So, hopefully, coming soon.

Oh, and I always have something interesting on eBay.

Patricia Paul is based in New York. Love her miniature creations? Stay current on her latest work by visiting the Patricia Paul Studio website and blog. Plus, you can follow along on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and eBay!


Daily Mini Interview: Miniatures by Linsminis

Miniatures by Linsminis

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Paella 3w

How did you first get started in miniatures? 

I was given a house kit to build and, at the time, I thought my mother had gone mad! What was I going to do with a dollhouse? I had never even thought about the world of miniatures in those days… my hobbies were watercolor painting and counted cross stitch! One rainy day, after the kit had lain unopened in a cupboard for several years, I decided to actually build it. Once built and decorated, I decided that I wanted it to be a café. chocolate brownies 4wHowever, all those years ago, there was little choice of cakes, the Internet was in its infancy, and the only ones readily available were plastic imports, mainly out of scale and not very good quality, so I decided to make my own! The rest is history!

What unusual materials have you used to make your miniatures?

I’m pretty boring and use only polymer clay, paper, wood, wire, thread and pastels!

mushroom prep 4wHow did you become involved with the International Guild of Miniature Artisans?

A fellow miniaturist and friend urged me to join IGMA. From there, I applied to become an Artisan and ultimately have become a Fellow.

Any favorite IGMA memories or accomplishments to note?

The day in 2009 when I received the news that, on my first submission, I was awarded Fellow status.

Advice for beginner artists and miniaturists?kitchen carnage 5w

Practice, practice and more practice with a whole lot of patience thrown in! Always try to work from real life if possible.

Favorite mini you own by another artist?

A tiny, art nouveau silver ashtray, cigarettes in the tiniest silver holder with a matching cigarette box with hinged lid by Mike Sparrow. They are so very tiny and absolutely perfect in every way!

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

I love the challenge of trying to get as much detail as I possibly can into something so small, which is why I prefer working in 1:12th scale as I find that any smaller and the minute details are lost! Cheese & egg hamper 1wI enjoy the pleasure both my customer and I get when I am commissioned to recreate that special miniature for someone and it seems that the challenge of turning someone else’s idea into reality results in me putting ever more detail into the piece.

I’ve come to recognize over the years that creating a miniature really is an art form in itself and I would love to see a greater awareness of the miniaturist’Making Melanzane Parmigiana 5ws skill – miniatures are collectible works of art rather than simply “dollhouse” toys!

I would love to find the time to do so many things, my own wirework is a definite if I ever get the time to start. Between family commitments, my large garden, an ever growing list of commission work and, of course, the husband, I need someone somewhere to put another 24 hours into every day for me and then I might actually try my hand at dollmaking and wirework… one day!

Linda Cummings hails from Durham City in the United Kingdom. You can shop Linsminis on Etsy or eBay. Follow more of Linsminis online on InstagramFacebook, Twitter, Flickr and Pinterest. Check out the Linsminis website and Linsminis blog

cheese buffet 1w Andy's cornucopia 4w
veg basket 5w

Daily Mini Interview: Miniature 3D Printing by Lance Abernethy

Lance Abernethy’s 3D-Printed Works in Miniature

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Lance-2015-04-3D-printer-shoot-020Tell us a bit about the conception of The World’s Smallest Circular Saw

It was just a natural progression from the miniature drill. I like to make and create things. Using power tools and 3D printers help me bring those things to life.

There are lots of things that get me excited and when I see something or come up with an idea I just want to have a go. The idea stems from joining multiple interests together but turning them into something different.

You wowed the tech world just a few months ago with your World’s Smallest Cordless Drill. Could you tell us a bit about the conception of this piece? 

It progressed from a general chat at our shift change over at work. We were sharing stories and jokes that are spread through the engineering field. Apparently a country made the smallest twist drill and sent it to another who drilled a hole down the center. Well, I thought: I can make a small drill to do that.

Lance Abernethy’s 3D-Printed Cordless Drill now holds the Guinness World Record for the smallest working power tool at 17 millimeters.

What’s your background and how did you get into 3D printing?

I’m a maintenance and diagnostic engineer… well, that’s what my certificate says. I have always liked technology and general mechanical things. The world of 3D printing is the ultimate way to create something. You can make things that were never possible before and with no waste. I would love to get more into that field and thought the best way to start was to get a printer of my own.


What urged you to transition from full scale 3D printing into miniature? 

Tiny things are interesting, funny and can be surprising. I still print large and full sized items but it’s always fun when you pull off a cool tiny print. The type of printer I have isn’t suited to printing such small items, so it’s also the challenge to make it possible.

20150316_175150Approximately how long did it take you to create the saw and drill? 

Three days each, from the idea to a complete item. I don’t wait around, I just get to creating.

Do you plan on selling either tool or mass printing these? 

It would be nice and may become a option. But I’m not sure if people would be willing to pay enough to be worth my time.

Any other 3D-printed works or “World’s Smallest” creations to come from Lance Abernethy?

I’m always working on something, that’s for sure. Whether it interests other people, I don’t know. The problem is, I have more ideas than time in the world. The list grows faster than I can pursue my interests and the cost comes into play a bit too.SAMSUNG CSC

As for miniature items, I have a few ideas that I hope to work on some time soon. More tools, but a few other things that I’m not ready to share yet. Mainly as I’m not sure if and when I’ll be able to complete them.

Any inspirations you’d like to cite? 

I don’t really follow anyone’s footsteps, but all the people at Ultimaker and on the forum make up a good community that I enjoy being a part of. There are lots of talented people that share their creations. It’s very inspiring.


Career highlights thus far?

Just being employed is a highlight. Over the years, I have had the opportunity to work with some very talented people and I really enjoy modifying machinery. SAMSUNG CSCSeeing people struggle operating or working with equipment and coming up with improvements to aid their jobs and improve overall performance.

Advice for beginner designers and entrepreneurs?

Don’t be afraid to fail and don’t worry about not being trained or taught how to do something. Just give it a go. You may start off rusty but the skills you will gain outweigh any of that. If you are passionate about something or something excites you, then pursue it. Life’s short so live it. If you wait for retirement then you may not be fit to do the things you would have loved to do.


Other hobbies you enjoy?

I have many hobbies: fishing, hunting, doing professional firework displays, playing banjo and bird watching. I also grow, harvest and make different products from sugar cane.

Lance Abernethy is based in Auckland, New Zealand. Watch his miniature creations in action on YouTube.



Daily Mini Interview: Photographer Chris Buck’s Likeness Series

Miniature Figurines in the Photography of Chris Buck

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Where did the idea for the Likeness series stem from? Tell us a bit about your 3D-printed self.

IMG_8402_V2A friend in mine had mentioned a pop-up shop in Chelsea Market offered 3D-printed figures. I went by the DOOB™ booth to check it out and was very impressed with the 3D-printed work on display. The examples had great detail and were solid replicas of the team working that day. I returned to the neighborhood and pursued my own 3D-printed self.

Originally, I had no plans to show the work, I just found the miniature me to be both weird and cool.

What did you learn through your work with the Likeness project?

IMG_2474Well, what’s interesting is that in looking at my photography in general, I always approach my portrait work by molding people into doing what I do, or what I would do. In that sense, my subjects conform to Chris Buck. So if you see awkwardness or frustration in the picture, that’s more me than the subject.

The Likeness series allowed me to show things from my life in a way that my other work doesn’t. The work was in a playful context, overtly imaginary. Take, for instance, the shot in a crappy hotel room with the figurine drunk on a bottle of bourbon. I was able to do that effectively because it was playful and silly, both odd and funny.

What I enjoyed most about the project was that I was creating natural self portraits, separated from me. I was both the photographer and the subject all at once. It was the ultimate dream of a portrait photographer realized.

IMG_3682_V2What has been your favorite Likeness photo thus far?

I would break this series into two groups: photos driven by content vs. photos driven by visual. I think some of the best #bucklikeness photos, and the most successful ones, have been driven by both content and visual. Two that stand out in my mind as having interesting content that’s also complex and visual would be: the frustrated Likeness in front of the urinal and the one where he’s buried in sand.

Tell us a bit about the figurine’s demise which resulted in the end of the Likeness series.

After I first had the replica made, I was in Los Angeles for 2 weeks and shot with him a lot out there. IMG_8534When I was in San Francisco for a short while, he ended up falling off a shelf. I glued him back together and kept taking photos. So it’s a bit misleading, you see, that the last image in the series was actually taken towards the beginning. I put him back together with rubber glue, but one foot kept breaking off.

The Likeness series is done now. Anytime I went anywhere, I had to take the replica along. I took #bucklikeness on vacation, to the beach – anywhere I went, he came. It was very distracting and an enjoyable series, but I never wanted it to become my whole creative identity.

You’ve previously incorporated miniature figures into your photography (Miniature Grooming (Harold Ramis); Hydrophobia; Tickphobia; Vignette (Rob Corddry)). Have you always had an interest in miniatures?


David Levinthal’s work inspired the Phobia series, which was featured in Outside magazine. The Likeness series took things a bit further and made the work more personal.

There’s something appealing about miniatures. They look like our world, but they’re not our world. I remember loving the other worldly quality of works by Ray Harryhausen. When his skeletons moved in Jason and the Argonauts, there was a sense of realism, but something was also off.

When it comes to miniatures, even when they are well done and really alluring, something is still a little bit off. And that captivates viewers even more.

Do you have any favorite artists or designers working in miniature?


I enjoy the work of David Levinthal and very much liked Corinne May Botz’s book The Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death.

I don’t consider myself a miniature expert by any extent. A lot of people are working in miniatures, and there’s a range of hobbyists and serious artists, but all of it is interesting. The people working in this are so strong and dedicated to their craft. What worked well with the Likeness series was dabbling with contemporary technology. It provided me license on to put on my own creative spin on the work.


What inspires you?

Some people are compelled to be creative. If I didn’t have to make art to support myself, I would still make it. It’s irresistible. There is something in me that drives me to create. I have to do this, whether “this” is putting together a family photo album, researching my family history, or working on professional photo projects. I have to do this stuff because it’s in my DNA. So, even if my schedule was completely cleared, I would still take the time to work on creative projects.

I’m also interested in the conflicts within us as human beings: who we are and what we want to be. I am inspired by concepts of morality and goodness and questions surrounding these aspects of humanity. And, I am also drawn to the dark side as well. That mix shows up in my work a lot.

Advice for beginner artists?tumblr_nuoslzyD3N1t47mgpo1_1280

One of the dangers I see with young people is that they become too inspired by what moves them. I would love to see more young artists reactive against things rather than inspired by things. For instance, with miniatures, if someone were to look around and say, “the way people are making miniatures today isn’t right at all. I want to make miniatures the way they should be done,” then they would create more interesting work as a result. When you deem a field to be exciting and want to become a part of it, you unintentionally might be creating more of the same work, yielding less growth or movement than if you rebelled against the norm or standards of that particular industry.

I hope that young or new artists can share another way of doing things. If this up-and-coming generation shared a truer vision of what should be happening in the field, then they’re ultimately rejecting the current wave to create a new wave. IMG_3521_V2So, even if it’s rejecting what I do – if I’m the old guard and I’m wrong – then that’s awesome. And you should do that. Put me in the past, I’d love to see what you come up with.

Is there anything else you’d like to add about the Likeness series? 

When I first saw and held my 3D-printed replica, it was crisp, clean, and the suit was dark. It didn’t take too long for it to fade. Eventually it became shabby and broke. It’s interesting that it had its own life. And in a way, it echoes what will be my life. The Likeness project had a biographical arc: youth, middle age, old age, deterioration, and death. And so, I felt comfortable letting it end because all things end. I wanted to acknowledge that [death]. It’s a fitting way to end it. The replica aged and demised; he eventually slowed down and died.tumblr_nuoslzyD3N1t47mgpo6_1280

Closing thoughts on miniatures or replicas?

The field of 3D photographic technology could open up new doors in the field of miniatures. I think it’s exceptionally interesting and I also wonder how miniaturists will react against it, as it removes some of the craft of creating miniatures by hand. To me, 3D printing is the equivalent of representational painting, where all of a sudden photography comes along and ultimately represents life better than paintings do.

Chris Buck is a photographer based in NY and LA. His clients include Google, Xerox, Old Spice, Dodge, GQ, The New Yorker and The Guardian Weekend. He was the first recipient of the Arnold Newman Portrait Prize in 2007. His first book, Presence, was published in 2012. Follow Chris Buck on Instagram, Tumblr, or visit chrisbuck.com to enjoy more of his photography work.


Daily Mini Interview: Sharon Harbison Miniature Food

Miniatures by Sharon Harbison

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il_570xN.766532916_r88iWhat’s your earliest memory with miniatures?

My first memory of miniatures is when my family visited relatives in Chicago. We went to the Museum of Science and Industry which has Colleen Moore’s Fairy Castle. Needless to say, I was quite delighted, but I think any ten-year-old girl would have been, so I can’t say I was motivated to make miniatures when I grew up.

How did you first get started making miniatures?

I got involved originally with miniatures when I got a job in 1978 with my local recreation commission. They were running a small local miniature show and I was assigned to contact dealers, make the arrangements, etc. My boss commended me on a good job, and suggested I should go to the show to see the fruits of my labors, so to speak. I was quite awed by the excellence of some of the craftsmanship, but I couldn’t help but think, “I can do this, and I think I can do it better.”sharb2_4vegcrateetsy

Do you remember the very first miniature you made? How has your work evolved?

For some reason I can’t remember, I decided to make plants and flowers. Ironically, my debut was at the same show a year later… I had remembered Nutshell News from organizing the show, and I found other shows to attend. From there I was invited to other shows, and I was even featured in Nutshell News in 1989. Around 1998, I was burned out, and phased out the business.

il_570xN.766657509_3nepNot until about 5 years ago, after I had retired, I decided to try again. But I didn’t want to do plants and flowers again. I decided on food, because I love working with polymer clay. I was gratified that considerable advances had been made in the quality and colors of the clay, but also for the many tutorials available online. I felt there was much more scope for miniature foods than for flowers.

Favorite miniature you’ve made?

I don’t think I have a favorite miniature… usually my current favorite is whatever I’m working on at the moment, if it’s going well.

sharb12_2cruditeFavorite tool or technique?

As far as tools and techniques, I have by now accumulated my own molds, and I look for new things to use everywhere I go. I would like to try my hand at making my own clay.

How did you become involved the International Guild of Miniature Artisans and the annual Guild Show?

I sent pictures of my work to the Guild and they offered me a contract. This is the second year I have attended. I especially enjoy the opportunity to speak to artisans I don’t usually see, and find interesting things to buy (I don’t collect miniatures but I buy things for my own work).

sharb13cmixedAdvice for beginner artists and miniaturists? 

I would give the same advice to people wanting to get into making miniatures that I give to people I see at shows: get started, watch tutorials, just mess around making things. The most important thing is, if something isn’t working for you, PUT IT ASIDE! If you persist, you’ll get discouraged. If you put it aside, maybe a few weeks or months later, you can pick it up and try again. The advice to “sleep on it” is actually true.

What is the most memorable miniature you have ever seen? 

The most unusual mini I have ever seen was a tin can, complete with worms, for a miniature fisherman. A toilet that actually flushed stands out too.

New minis in the works?il_570xN.766528460_iv9x

As to what’s new, who knows? I never know what I might be doing next. I do welcome suggestions from customers—after all, I can’t think of everything!

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

What appeals to me most about miniatures is that I love doing it. There are new things to learn, new problems to be solved, and it’s never, ever boring. A lot of people aspire to things, but in the end you have to do what you’re good at. I never visualized when I was in art school that I would be doing this, but I truly feel this is what I was meant to do.

Sharon Harbison of Sharon Harbison Miniature Food is from Union Beach, NJ. You can purchase Sharon’s work online through SP Miniatures or on Etsy

Daily Mini Interview: Miniatures by Alamedy Diorama

Miniatures by Alamedy Diorama

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InstagramHow did you first get started in miniatures? 

My story with the miniatures started when I was very young. I started reading at the age of 5 and that enhanced my imagination a lot. Since then, I always dreamed of making scenes that I had previously imagined in a small scale. Six years ago, I found by chance some kind of Balsa wood and immediately I decided to build my first project. It was a small farm scene. I searched the Internet for some help, but I didn’t know what it was called. Finally, I found the word “miniatures” and I was so happy to know that there are a lot of miniaturists around the world. I started to make friendships with these artisans and gradually my work began receiving attention. I started a Facebook account two years ago, and now I have more than 5,000 friends and followers from all around the world.

10991491_339820852880421_9177847616847420653_oAdvice for beginner artists and miniaturists?

Keep doing what you love to do and never let the lack of material and resources let you down. You should be creative in how to distort things to reach your needs. When I started making dioramas, I didn’t know even the word “diorama,” because it’s something I didn’t see in my country before. I worked so hard to do what I loved and didn’t let the lack of materials and resources let me down. For any miniaturists that need advice or help, I’m always on Facebook available to answer questions and I also make tutorials for beginners.


Favorite mini you have made?

My favorite project has been the Children’s Room because it takes me back to my childhood memories.

11016108_336963496499490_9034253643904727127_nWho are some of your favorite miniaturists?

I would love to have miniatures from Japanese miniaturist Ichiyo Haga and Lucy Maloney, who makes scale reproductions of pet dogs.

What inspires you?

I get inspiration from everyone, everywhere. Before I start any project, I extensively research what I want to build. My taste is international and I haven’t build any local projects yet, mostly urban scenes and rusty place. I love to show rusty things and aged wood.

CaasdasptureAs I mentioned before, when I started out, I didn’t know that there was something called “dioramas” or “miniatures.” I didn’t have any tools or materials for making miniatures, but my passion to do those mini scenes pushed me to morph what I had to fit my work. I use plaster of Paris, aluminum foil, plastic rods and whatever I have in home.

After 6 years of work, I’m making tutorials and how-to videos to help people who love to make miniatures but don’t have access to a lot of resources.

What is the most memorable miniature you have ever seen?

The work of Charles Matton always amazes me and I always enjoy looking at it.

New minis in the works?

I’m working on a vintage photography studio in 1:12.

Alamedy Diorama is the brainchild of Ali Alamedy. Originally from Iraq, Ali has worked and lived in Dubai, Cairo, Beirut, and Istanbul. He currently lives in Sakarya, Turkey. Check out more of his marvelous miniatures on the Alamedy Diorama Facebook, Instagram, Behance and Pinterest.


Daily Mini Interview: Mini Southern Millworks

Mini Southern Millworks

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Rocking chair 1How did you first get started in miniatures?

After a motorcycle accident in 1982, I was unable to work for several months and I needed something to do to pass the time. I always liked putting together the plastic model kits of cars, airplanes, and more. One day, I ran across an article in a magazine for The House of Miniatures kit of the month club. I love woodworking and antiques so I knew this would be something I would like doing. Also, I would be able to have the “antiques” (in miniature) that I couldn’t afford in real life.

After doing the kits for a little while, I realized that I could scratch build scaled-down, full-sized pieces with even more detail put into them.Huntboard

Why the interest in millworks? 

Millworks, in my case, is simply taking raw material and transforming it into a functioning, working model of a full sized piece down to the actual joinery of the original piece.

What are some of your favorite miniatures to make? 

I really enjoy the country painted pieces that I can distress and antique to make them look and feel as though they are a hundred years old and ripe with history.

Punched tin Pie safeWhat miniatures have proven to be the most challenging? 

One of my most challenging pieces was a commissioned piece of a Chippendale bookcase on desk. It was a combination of several different furniture designs with a modern twist. It had claw and ball feet, a broken pediment top, flame urn finials, seven secret compartments, wood trimmed glass shelves, and lights in the bonnet. This piece was done before email and Internet, so my client and I collaborated over the phone to come up with the piece he wanted.

Advice for beginner artists?

Choose something that you really like and learn as much as you can about it. Make this your area of expertise. But remember to always try new and different things or it will become mundane.

What inspires you?Plantation desk 1

The details in other artists’ handmade miniatures as well as the craftsmanship of original antiques.

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

I have to say the most memorable miniature would be a 1/6 scale running Harley Davidson engine made by Jerry Kieffer.

Why miniatures? 

I have always liked tiny things but the main appeal is the problem solving that goes into doing each piece. Working out how to build the different styles of furniture and doing the original joinery in 1/12 scale is always challenging.

Bench and wood boxUpcoming projects planned? 

I want to create even more detailed pieces. I have hundreds of photos and plans of different types of furniture just waiting to be done in miniature. I would also like to start making my own period hardware for my pieces and mill my own lumber.

Mini Southern Millworks is headed up by Mario Messina from Louisiana. You can follow along on Instagram, Facebook, or visit the Mini Southern Millworks blog

Rocking chair

Daily Mini Interview: Miniature Glass by Kiva Ford

Miniature Glass by Kiva Ford

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How did you first get started in glassblowing?

WineSet (1)My first memory of glassblowing is at a small town fair. I was enchanted by the process of glassblowing and the way the glass moved while it was molten. After seeing the glass being made, I knew that I wanted to try glassblowing someday.

What types of blown glass do you make? How has your work evolved?

I have been creating glass going on 14 years now. I am scientific glassblower by trade, and currently I manage the custom scientific glassblowing shop at the University of Notre Dame. I create custom glassware for chemistry, engineering, and physics. I make artistic glass after I get home from work. I feel like my work is constantly evolving. I really enjoy the technical aspect of glassblowing. It is a very difficult and unforgiving material to master.

Describe your process. What’s a day in the studio like?StripesGroup

My creative glass studio is in a community based art space called Fire Arts in South Bend, IN. There are all sorts of craftspeople at Fire Arts from bronze casting to stone carving. It is a very inspiring environment. I like to keep my workshop clean and utilitarian. It is important for me to have a clean and organized shop where I can focus on my work without any distractions. I enjoy being next to the St. Joseph River and being able to look at the beautiful water falls that were once used as a source for a hydro-electric power plant in the early 1900s. If you were to walk by my shop when I am working you might hear an eclectic mix of music coming from the garage. Any artist from Ray Charles to The Rolling Stones, to Loretta Lynn.

Before I heat up the glass I need to put on special didymium glasses, which will filter out a bright orange flame that occurs when I heat up the glass. I start by slowly warming in the glass, and introducing it to the heat. If you heat up the glass too quickly, thermal stress will occur which will shatter the glass. Just like an ice cube will crack if you put it in a glass of hot tea. Klein (1)Once the glass is hot enough, I can increase the temperature of the fire to bring the glass up to a working temperature. Glass is a poor conductor of heat, so I can hold on to the glass while I am working with it in the fire and my hands will not get hot. I use a Carlisle CC torch which runs on propane and oxygen. The flame will get hotter than five thousand degrees Fahrenheit. I use a variety of tools to form and shape the glass including tweezers, graphite paddles, graphite reamers, knives, and tongs. Once the glass is finished, I place it in my annealing oven. The oven brings the glassware up to its annealing temperature and removes any of the stress that occurs in the glass while I am working with it.


Why the interest in miniature works of glass?

I lived in Jersey City, NJ for nine years. Apartments can be very expensive there which usually translates to a tiny living space. Most of my friends had small apartments with limited space to put things. Chem SetWhen I was first trying to sell my glass a lot of people told me that they loved my work, but didn’t have room for it in their house. I then thought that if I made tiny glassware, my friends would have room to put it in their house. The miniature glassware has received a great response, and I haven’t stopped making it since.

Advice for beginner artists?

Make exceptional work! Make things that no one has ever seen before. Be innovative. Don’t get discouraged if your work doesn’t sell right away. Think about the long game. Remember, you do this because you love it, not because you are trying to make tons of money. Give yourself permission to be creative and to make what is in your head, even if you think it might not be received well. And also, make exceptional work!!!

Tool or technique you can’t live without?BrainInAJar

Most of the tools and techniques that I can’t live without at this point are things that I have innovated.

Who do you look to for inspiration?

Dante Marioni, Cesare Toffolo, Joe Peters, Daniel Coyle, Jupiter Nielsen and many others.

What’s to come from Kiva Ford?

I just finished a very busy schedule of teaching all over the country and demonstrating at the Corning Museum of Glass to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Pyrex glass. Right now I am looking forward to staying in my shop and working on a few new ideas. IMG_8800I do have a few big things planned for next year, but nothing is totally set in stone right now, so stay tuned!

Other activities you enjoy?

I love juggling. I was a professional juggler for 13 years. Juggling really keeps me in the present and keeps me focused, almost like a meditation.

Kiva Ford is currently based in Indiana. View more of his incredible miniature glass work on his website. You can also follow Kiva Ford on Instagram and Facebook.


Daily Mini Interview: Adore Mini by Julia Cissell

Adore Mini by Julia Cissell

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How did you first get started in miniatures?

CommonBlueEver since my first memories, I have felt a sense of magic in tiny things that have an unexpectedly large degree of detail! For me, seeing things that have great intricate detail presented in a small scale, has a special way of magnifying the beauty I see that is hidden in things that are commonly overlooked in that way. As a kid, I think my Barbie dolls were the first things that inspired me to start creating tiny things; I would make shoes, necklaces and intricately detailed hair barrettes for them from thin copper wire. I would make dresses for them from fabric scraps left by my mom’s sewing machine, taking care to make every small stitch in the hems evenly spaced so that it looked just like a real dress to me.

Why butterflies in miniature?

I could go on all day about my life-long fascination with butterflies! They are my favorite insects for so many reasons. Their mysterious communication behaviors and ability to see colors we can’t. How there are tens of thousands of butterfly breeds, yet, like people, they each have such unique characteristics that give them their special identity.gff5

In 2000, when I was brand new to polymer clay, I discovered the special technique of building a “cane” (a log of the clay that is constructed in such a way where a design runs throughout the middle, that can be seen when you cut it crosswise with a razor. After making a cane, it can be stretched out to a very small diameter, baked in the oven to cure, then cut slices from). Well that flipped a switch in me, and I was immediately inspired by both my passions for butterflies and for tiny things. I used this idea to make the wings of butterflies in miniature! Soon after, I discovered the popular scale of miniatures, “dollhouse” scale or 12 times smaller than actual size. I knew that would be the perfect scale to make them in! On average, the wingspans of the butterflies I make in this scale range from 1/16″ (1.5 mm), up to about 1/4″ (6 mm), depending on the breed.

Adore Mini used to be called “Gods’ Flying Flowers.” Where did the name come from?

SaraOrangeTipSideviewIn around 2005, I was selling my miniature butterflies on eBay before I discovered Etsy. A lady ran across a group of 3 miniature Anise Swallowtail butterflies I had listed on eBay, telling me she felt blessed to have found them in a search. She said that all throughout the past month since her son passed away, she had seen the same 3 Anise Swallowtail butterflies each day flying around her kitchen window outside, and referred to them as “God’s flying flowers,” reminding her of her son’s spiritual presence. She then bought them to keep on her kitchen window sill. I was so touched by her story that I wanted to use her reference to the butterflies as the title for my business!

What is the most challenging part of completing a butterfly miniature?

MakingMiniButterflyLegsEasy question: the high humidity level in the air! When the humidity is over 75%, working with a tiny speck of super glue at a time is pretty much impractical. In high humidity, the mini butterfly parts aren’t visibly moist, but it becomes apparent that they are when the glue won’t adhere the parts to each other firmly. I only work on dry days.

Do you have a favorite species of butterfly?

My favorite species of butterfly tends to change a lot… But I think my favorite one that I have made is the Purple Spotted Swallowtail. Something about the combination of the colors in the wings, and the overall wing shape is just so beautiful to me. It is my favorite one to show, out of the 8 breeds I keep in my poison rings I wear.

What inspires you?

I’m inspired by anything that gives me a magical feeling. I love using what I learn from my experiments with relative physics that working on a miniature scale provides for me. I love to put as much passion and creativity into coming up with the custom tools I make, as I put into in making the actual miniatures themselves.

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

I’d have to say that the work of Willard Wigan sums it up! He works under a microscope, and comes up with some of the most fascinating micro sculptures.

Advice for beginner artists and miniaturists?

When first starting out, as well as after you’ve gained experience, don’t lose sight of what you want to get out of it. So be slow about it, and have fun! I am motivated by learning, so I look at failed experiments objectively and let them inspire me to keep going, rather than seeing these as a measure of my ability. Don’t judge yourself, or compare your work to that of others. Join artists groups, and don’t feel shy about asking “dumb” questions — every artist has been in that boat.

Why miniatures?

Making things in miniature is just what feels natural for me. I love intricate detail, and the creative process behind the resourcefulness alone that’s required in coming up with the ways to make it possible. Not to mention it is very profitable. My materials cost practically nothing, when it comes to how such a little bit goes an infinitely long way.

PurpleSpottedSwallowtailTerrariumWhat’s to come from Adore Mini?

Ultimately I plan on expanding my variety of Adore Mini miniature butterflies to more than 100. But in the near future, I plan on adding a section of customizable miniature terrarium cork-top bottles with different kinds of miniature flowers, that the miniature butterflies can be mounted on inside, which can be used in a necklace or as earrings. Also, I just made 10 new polymer clay butterfly wing canes for new breeds I will be adding to my variety in the near future.

What do you want miniature fans to know about you?

People commonly ask me things like:

  • “What kind of magnifying device do you use for making these?”
  • “What do you do with them?”
  • “How do you have the patience to make something that tiny and detailed?”

ButterfliesInPoisonRingsI can’t have anything in front of my eyes when I work, not even my glasses or contacts. I’m very nearsighted, and I only need very bright light in a low-humidity environment to work in.

My favorite thing to do with them is keep them in my poison rings I wear on my fingers! They’re like magical hidden compartments to keep them with me in at all times. Also they can be displayed in a 1″ acrylic magnifier box I have in my shop. It’s great for keeping in any display cabinet or shadow box. For dollhouse scale miniature collectors, my miniature butterflies are the perfect accents for any outdoor miniature scene.

For me, when it comes to true passion for what I am doing, the term “patience” just doesn’t apply. I don’t see my experiences on a scale of successes and failures, but it’s simply the element of cause and effect that keeps me intrigued with it.

Julia Cissell is the creator of Adore Mini (formerly named God’s Flying Flowers). She’s currently based in Bartlett, Tennessee. Shop her miniature butterfly collection on Etsy or follow along on Instagram!