Daily Mini Interview: Alan Hamer Miniatures

Alan Hamer Miniatures

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brass,copper,tinWhat’s your earliest memory with metalworking and horshoeing?

Learning to weld, repair and fabricate ranching and farming equipment. I was building minibikes and go-karts at a very young preteen age.

At first, I just wanted to learn horseshoeing to do my own horses but, the more I learned, the more I wanted to learn. I studied it in college and corrective horseshoeing grew into a profession.

What’s your earliest memory with miniatures?

My father was an architect and I did some scale models of his buildings for him. I was very young and it was fun play for me then.

Do you have a favorite metal to work with?

Yes. I enjoy working with iron and steel the best. People do not believe me but I consider iron and steel to be the easiest and most forgiving of the metals to work with.

DSC00984What is the most challenging miniature to make?

Spiral staircases can be a bit tricky. if they start getting a little off it becomes a geometric progression towards doom.

What’s your favorite part about making miniatures?

It is most fun to design and fabricate things with moving parts.

Do you ever work in bigger scale these days?

Every now and then for chuckles… but I sold all of my real size metal tools when we moved to France for a while, and they will probably not be replaced for now.

Do you have a favorite miniature work you’ve created? 

Nope. When I finish a piece, I don’t much care about it any longer. On to the next.

ANTIQUE FRENCH FARM CHILD CARTS (1)As an IGMA Fellow, what would you say is the value of International Guild of Miniature Artisans membership?

The Guild is a great thing and it will plug you into the whole world of miniatures. You will make friends all over our world.

Is your miniature metal work for sale? 

It’s all for sale. But a few years ago, Pretty Wife and a few miniature friends convinced me that I should keep some of my things. First rule of life is that girls get what they want, so I started to keep some things. But now, when I look at these things I think, “sell them and add another motorbike to the stable?”

I do two shows a year, usually Chicago International and Good Sam where my work is available, and usually The Gallery Of The Guild has some of my things on their tables. I can also be contacted through my website.

Career highlights you’d like to recount?Child's pedal 'tin racer'

Two things stand out that made me proud. Once, in a rural café, I overheard the oldest rancher bragging to the others that I had ‘turned’ his horse Lightning’s front foot in just a few months after he had been trying to correct it for years. He had been shoeing horses much longer than I had been alive. And the other was the first time Ingaborg’s miniature magazine in Paris featured my work. Written up in Paris; I had arrived!

Favorite metalworkers?

Oh yes. Alexandre Gustave Eiffel of course. Great work all over France. And the great Polish blacksmith Samuel Yellin. Nearly one hundred years ago my Dad once had him for a toolmaking teacher in Philadelphia.

What advice would you give to new metalworkers and beginner miniaturists? 

You just must keep at it, is all. I truly believe what my grand mum always taught me: “it is in the water that we learn to swim.” The tools and materials are the best teachers, and will teach you just how they like to be worked.

childs trike trucksWhat inspires you?


What is the most memorable miniature you have ever seen?

You know when you drive across the desert, and you stop in one of those unkempt crummy gas station restrooms? A very, very well done one of those in miniature once made me cringe and shiver.

What is your hope for the field of miniatures? 

When I first started and when I was teaching at Guild School, the miniature world kind of looked like an old age home. Now it seems to be getting younger and seems much more international. We can help keep it alive by making miniatures that people just can’t live without.

What would you like to see replicated in miniature that you have not yet seen?

miniatures 059Not sure. I see things at shows that surprise me that people will make in miniature… including miniature packages of condoms for the bedside table. There isn’t much left undone.

What appeals to you most about what you do?

Making things is what I do. It really does not matter what or the medium. When I was doing real size work, ornamental iron, cast bronze, cast glass, I was always driving my 2 1/2 ton truck to the steel yard, and spending $800 for materials. I was always burnt up and dirty. Now I can jump on a motorbike, go to the shops and spend $18 on materials, put them in a pocket and ride home. Also the truth is that miniatures are very easy to sell. Anything of quality is sold right away.

What’s to come from Alan Hamer?

What’s to come? Too many commissions now so I must miss the next Chicago Show. I will be at Seattle in the spring as it is very close,, and I have not done it since back in the last century, and everyone says it is getting good again under a new promoter. I will return to Chicago in 2017. I am starting to do more teaching again. I taught a workshop at the Good Sam Show in October last year. The miniature world needs more metalworkers and I won’t last forever.

Watch this video of his miniature in action:

Motto you live by?

Never be afraid. Be good to the world around you. Have fun. Live with cats.

Other activities you enjoy?

Half a life ago when we met, one of the first things that Pretty Wife told me was that I look stupid driving a car, and that I should stick to motorbikes and horses. I still ride, restore, build, and fool with Italian, Russian, and British motorbikes. Too many old injuries coming back to haunt me now to still fool with horses, I’m afraid.

What do you want miniature enthusiasts to know about you?

I simply keep working and try to bring joy to living.

Alan Hamer of Alan Hamer Miniatures is based in Salem, Oregon. To see more of his miniature metalwork, visit his website today!

Daily Mini Interview: Miniature Designs by Tom Lynall

Tom Lynall’s Miniature Jewelry Designs and Pencil Carvings 

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10453087_739859586055450_4850438126037476385_oTell us a bit about your background in jewelry design.

I have wanted to be a jeweler for my entire life; since I was about 4 specifically. I never really wanted to do anything else or experiment with anything career-wise. My dad’s a jeweler and he would take me to his shop, give me little jobs to do when I was a kid. I’ve loved it ever since then. I left school at age sixteen to immediately start training with another jeweler. After a few years, I left that jeweler, and would frequent my dad’s shop to create tiny models for fun. Eventually, I became qualified to work alongside my father, and I can officially say I’ve been a jeweler for twelve years now.

What’s your earliest memory with miniatures?

I can remember when I was four, I was given the duty to sort stones out by color. I enjoyed sorting through sapphires, emeralds, rubies, and more.10687036_906926426015431_58747239304539151_n

How did you get started with miniature pencil carvings? 

At first, I would see pictures of pencil carving sculptures on Facebook as well as around the Internet. On the 30th of November last year, I thought I would give it a go myself. My first pencil carving was a little red heart, which I made purely because I had found a red pencil.

Do you have a favorite carving?

I created a Batman vs. Superman carving, I guess that could be considered my “favorite” since everything seemed to fall into place just perfectly for that one in a rapid amount of time.

Do you keep all your carvings? 

I do keep all of my carvings, apart from a few which I have given away to people. I do not do these for money or anything, but for my own leisure.

10525682_739859022722173_5751603696795488200_nAnd do you have a favorite work of jewelry?

I had made a ghostship that was being attacked by a giant squid. It was a model that I had entered into a Goldsmiths competition a few years back. This piece resonates with me because it marked the first time I had ever had my work compared to others. It was also really cool because I won a Senior Modelmaker silver award, which was really special since I only made the model for a bit of fun.

How has your work with jewelry design evolved over the years?

When I had started experimenting with Discworld models, I eventually began to branch out and create more detailed pieces. I’m currently working on a commission which I can say has definitely been the biggest thing I have ever worked on: taking up over six months of my life.

gold-hare.94c92a60dfa58106b59084f52e50a8371What’s a unique material you’ve used in one of your jewelry designs?

The most unique tool or material I’ve resorted to using was one of my eyelashes, which was effectively used as a paintbrush to paint a miniature stained-glass lantern.

Technique you can’t live without?

When I am doing carvings, my hands need to remain in a certain position for the process to take place. I brace my blade in a certain way to hold the pencil, so that both of my hands are braced and only the blade moves to carve most efficiently. It’s steadier opposed to your hands moving backwards and forwards when they are not braced tight enough and holding the pencil in place.

10523530_740129259361816_4731228867917513303_nWhat inspires you?

Mostly, it is seeing other things that peers make. Also, whenever someone throws out an idea that something cannot be done, it pushes me that extra bit to give it a go and see what may come of it. Willard Wigan is my favorite artist hands-down. And a recent friend.

What is the most memorable miniature you have ever seen?

The most memorable miniature I have come across has to have been something from Willard Wigan’s work. It is just nuts to say the least, in a good way. His fairy on a toadstool in particular is probably my favorite that he has done.

small-knife-fork.94c92a60dfa58106b59084f52e50a8371What appeals to you most about your work with jewelry design and pencil carvings?

It’s my passion, it’s not work. It could be classified as more of a hobby, really. I just enjoy making pieces and seeing what I can come up with using my imagination and my own two hands.  I’m very lucky to be in my position. I enjoy being there to lend a helping hand to a friend who may have some broken jewelry, or need something constructed as a gift for a loved one. Not to mention, it’s a huge honor to make engagement rings for couples, truly.

What’s to come from Tom Lynall?

I am on a commission at the moment–the details of which I cannot fully disclose–but I can say it will be ready by April 2016. It will truly be one-of-a-kind, and by far the most complex piece I have ever worked on. After the commission is finished, I will be primarily focusing on projects for my own interest.

Months later, I went on to complete the 1,000 heart project, which you can learn more about here: http://www.1000heartcollection.com.

small-hate.94c92a60dfa58106b59084f52e50a8371Other activities you enjoy?

I’m quite amused by juggling; it can serve as an excellent stress reliever when I need a quick break. For the past 12 years, I have done a form of gymnastics called tricking. In my spare time, Super Mario is always a fun alternative.

What do you want miniature enthusiasts to know about you?

The biggest point I’d like to get across is I don’t do what I do for profit. I find it intrinsically fulfilling. I do it for my own personal satisfaction, which to me is a much better catalyst for any artistic motivation.

Tom Lynall is a specialist bespoke jewelry manufacturer located in Birmingham’s prestigious Jewellery Quarter. Having been in the industry for over a decade, Thomas has produced high quality sliver, gold and platinum pieces to the highest quality. To see more of his jewelry designs or miniature carvings, visit his website, Facebook or Instagram.




Daily Mini Interview: Ron Stetkewicz Miniatures

Ron Stetkewicz Miniatures

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umbrella stand w canesWhat’s your earliest memory with miniatures?

I’ve been doing this since I was tyke. I can remember falling asleep under a table in Syracuse back in 1980-1, being woke up for snoring too loud. I can remember my brothers covering my hand in resin to try and make a mini hand. That had to be 1979.

I wasn’t formally trained in miniature art until I attended the IGMA Guild School in Castine this year. I also learned through an apprenticeship under my Dad. His shop was always open to do whatever: minis or fill your tire with air or make a sword for a Halloween costume. That’s how I run it today: a place to get it all done. There’s a lot of processes that can be done there.CUTTY-3

Do you have a favorite type of miniature you like to create?

I enjoy making miniatures out of brass. I don’t have favorites, it’s all the same flow. I can only make anything for short spurts and if it’s caste statues or the intricate hour glasses, they are all felt for equally.

Do you have any favorite miniatures?

GneshI don’t collect for myself. My Mom was the big collector, she had everyone’s best stuff from the 1970s through the 2000s. The collection was given away when we split the estate. There were some great pieces in that collection. Originals by Alice Zinn, dolls by Jane Spain and Joan Benzell. Chet Spacher weldings, Bauder Pine works, all gone.

I do collect music instruments for my son, Ronnie, and little books and mini worldly treasures for my daughter, Kayla. She loves going to miniature shows.

swordWhat material do you find the most challenging to work in?

I’m not looking for a challenge, I work in what I know. I’ve been learning woodwork and at Castine I learned working with polymer clay and oil paints. I learned so many valuable things that I think I might write a book. There was so much learning and meeting new friends that I couldn’t summarize it in one statement.

What advice would you give to an IGMA Scholarship Student?

Soak it all in. As much as you can.

P1020938What inspires you?

Inspiration is a funny thing. It can be a dreamt up idea that makes me want to work until the piece is done, or my inspiration can be because I’m flat and need the cash. Either way, it’s my family that keeps me from chaos. My parents got me into this and I plan on doing the same for my children. The true inspiration was my dad, now the true drive is passing things along to my kids.

What can we expect from Ron Stetkewicz Miniatures in the future?

My door accessories in stores across the country. I will be unveiling my product line at the Philadelphia Miniaturia from November 6-8.

Anything else you would like to add?

I’ve seen a lot of years in this business from my behind-the-scenes vantage point. I want this industry to rebloom. It’s time breathe new life into this mini world.

Ron Stetkewicz Miniatures is located in Cairo, New York. To view more of Ron’s work or to buy a miniature of your own, check out his website, Instagram, Facebook, and Miniatures Site.