Daily Mini Interview: Miniature Sculptures by Jill Orlov

Miniatures and More by Jill Orlov

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KitchenBox2_1920x1280-960x600What’s your earliest memory with miniatures?

I had a Barbie townhouse, does that count? My mother assembled a kit dollhouse when I was in elementary school, I believe. I was very crafty as a kid, so it was more about fitting it out than the dolls. I never really was into the doll part of it. I was more interested in putting the furniture together, getting the miniature patterned wallpaper, making tiny food out of Sculpey, laying a miniature brick floor and grouting it.

Describe your return to miniatures later in life.

About five years ago, I saw a cigar box diorama art piece at a friend’s house and mentioned to another friend that it was the type of work I love. Coincidentally, she had a friend hosting a themed cigar box art show annually. My friend got me in touch and I did those shows for four years in a row. The last one was my most involved. It incorporated about 10 cigar boxes and I made little scenes in them, one was a miniature room using some of my childhood dollhouse furniture.

cigar-box-mirror-tea1_1920x1440-960x600How would you describe your work in a few words?

As a former architect, I would describe my artwork as the built world… in miniature. A description of my work in a couple words is hard to nail down: whimsically modern and industrial. I make functional art and whimsical objects.

What is the most challenging aspect of your work with industrial design?

Most of it is welded steel and due to the (tiny) size of some of the components, it is extremely time consuming and tedious… but I love the minutiae. Some of the artwork incorporates old wooden drawers and crates, such as the Rooms in Boxes series. So welding around the old dry wood is a challenge, trying not to set anything on fire.

Powder1What advice would you give to new artists?

I’m pretty new at it all myself, the part where I consider myself an artist and am now selling my work. I think having a supportive network of artsy friends is worth a lot, whenever I get stuck, I can run an idea by someone and it loosens the gears to have a new set of eyes looking at the work. Stepping away from a piece is also important when I hit a road block. Also, reach out to other artists that you admire. I have gotten great advice from several.

Favorite miniature work you own?

Library-Box-progress2_1920x1440-960x600I have a couple pieces that I’d like to give a shout out. Cathy Evans, the woman who curated the group Cigar Box shows, made a piece that I always coveted and now proudly display in my home. It is an altered doll made into a racecar driver. The racecar is a wooden shoe mold. The second piece is one of the cigar boxes that was displayed in the first group Cigar Box show that I participated in. It is by children’s book illustrator Kevin O’Malley. The piece has these miniature bowling pins colored and painted to look like an orchestra. It is beautiful.

What inspires you?

The delicate juxtaposed with the everlasting. Work that shows a sense of time and thoughtfulness.


What is the most memorable miniature you have seen?

So many to choose from, here are a few that stand out: apparently several artists are excelling at this – the carved pencil lead while still part of the pencil and the daily miniature calendar work of Tatsuya Tanaka.


What is your hope for the field of miniatures?

I would love to be “discovered.”I think my work crosses into several areas, the world of miniatures, industrial, modern, fantastical and of course, the whimsical. My hope for the future in general is that the art of craft is not a lost art form. Pride in the workmanship, craftsmanship and quality of materials comes back in the forefront versus the throw away culture that seems to be all too common.

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

As some say, I’m afraid everything has already been done, but I hope not.

Why miniatures?

Somewhat embarrassingly, I’ll admit to what I’ve always called my Thumbelina complex. I have a secret but kept quiet admiration of the fairy world. Didn’t every little girl wish she was able to live in Genie’s bottle?


NestingChair_1000x758-997x758What’s to come from Jill Orlov?

I have two new Rooms in Boxes: Library in a Box and Powder Room in a Box. Barely started is the Laundry in a Box and Window Seat in a Box.

Motto you live by?

Do what you love for as long as you can so there are no regrets

Other hobbies you enjoy?

Traveling, walking our dogs in the woods, finding and reading a book that I can’t put down (unfortunately, I have a hard time focusing so they aren’t as frequently found as I’d like).

Anything else you would like to add?

I take commissions.

Jill Orlov is an award-winning sculptural furniture designer/fabricator and artist based in Baltimore, Maryland. You can have a look at many more of her mini and mega creations on jillorlov.com as well as on Instagram.



Daily Mini Interview: Miniature Lighting Designs by Lighting Bug Ltd.

Lighting Bug Ltd. Makers of Dollhouse Lights and Miniature Lighting

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660What’s your earliest memory with miniatures?

We moved to Hawaii when I was six and my parents bought us a top opening Hawaiian-style ranch house. Although it was 1:12 scale, over the years the five of us made it home to Barbies, G.I. Joes, Lone Rangers, and all their friends. The house was given away long ago but I still have some furniture, lighting, and accessories.

How did you first get started working with miniatures? Where does the interest in miniature lighting design stem from?

When Jim and I were first married, I saw an ad in the back of a magazine for the House of Miniatures kit-of-the-month club. When I had enough furniture kits made, I needed a house for them. So, I took an evening woodworking class at our local college and made a 5-story 15-room bookcase-style dollhouse that I designed. I still love to do miniature woodworking, and to the amazement of my friends, I actually have table saws in three sizes.

When I built my dollhouse, I wasn’t going to light it because of the expense. But when I finished the first floor, it was obvious it needed light to show off all the details in the rooms. Jim helped me come up with a hard-wired system that worked for such a big house. Years later, I made a chandelier in a lighting class taught by Scott Hughes and another in a class by Phyllis Tucker, both fabulous lighting artisans, and was inspired by the results. Now I can’t do a project without lighting it, no matter how small it is.

CH-MOR_LRGTell us a bit about how Lighting Bug Ltd. came to be.

Lighting Bug Ltd. was started in 1976 by Isabel and Tom Thompson. We bought the business from them in December 2005 and have been delighted to continue the legacy they started. We have two major milestones coming up. In December, we celebrate our 10 year anniversary and in 2016, Lighting Bug Ltd. will celebrate 40 years providing handcrafted lighting to dollhouse miniaturists. It feels pretty special to be a part of this history.

Did either of you previously work in the field of lighting design?

I was a small business accounting consultant and tax accountant which has the same mindset needed for detail work. Jim was an air-traffic controller which means he’s pretty good at details too. We’re both happy that making dollhouse lighting is less stressful than our previous careers.

Who designs Lighting Bug Ltd. miniature lights?

Jim is the techno-guru, web-master, photographer, and customer service for the business. Linda is the lighting artisan and business manager. We handcraft all of our lights and they are either our designs or designs we bought with the business. We were fortunate to buy a popular line of light designs that are still in demand today. We’ve added quite a few new designs since we bought the business and Jim and I have fun collaborating on some of the artsier ones. As small business owners, we wear a lot of hats and our skills blend very nicely.

CH-WWWhat are some of your best-selling works?

Our signature light is the bare bulb with the pull chain. There are so many places it can be used in projects and it’s just so cute. What sells best goes in phases. In the last few years anything Moroccan or Tudor sells very quickly. We make the largest selection of handcrafted dollhouse lighting in a variety of styles from Tudor to Contemporary in 1”, ½”, and ¼” scales so we have lights for just about any project.

What inspires you?

I watch HGTV in the background while I’m making lights, and pause the TV when they show the lights in the reveals. I also do a lot of custom work inspired by photos or drawings customers send us. And when I have the time, I like to play around with the hundreds (maybe thousands) of parts we have on hand and see what fun new light I can come up with.

100Advice for beginner artists?

Don’t start as big as I did!

The whole idea of lighting and electricity can be very intimidating and prevent miniaturists from trying to light their projects. The good news is that there are quite a few new techniques for lighting available now that make it so much easier than it used to be. We love to show customers how to wire their projects and we do offer advice by email and at shows. My advice: start with a small project like a roombox to gain confidence; and take a wiring class to learn tips and techniques. Our favorite saying is, “Lighting brings your miniature projects to life.”

What’s to come from Lighting Bug Ltd.?

Our next show is The Miniature Show in Chicago in April 2016. It has an unbelievable list of dealers and should be great fun. We are always working on new lights that we add to our online store and expect to reveal new ones at the show. We’ll start posting teasers on Facebook and other social media as the show gets closer.

CL-SFBBL_LRGWhat do you want miniature enthusiasts to know about you?

I am a miniaturist just like our customers. A fun time for me is working on a mini project in the company of my mini friends. I usually have two or three projects that I’m working on, and at least as many more in the queue. My current obsession is ¼ scale but I still love one inch scale best. Jim thinks our house looks like a miniature museum because of all my projects, but enjoys giving the mini tour when we have visitors.

Linda and Jim Orleff live in the beautiful state of Tennessee, in the lovely town of Fairfield Glade. To learn more about the work they do with Lighting Bug Ltd., head on over to their website, shop their online store, or follow along on Facebook.