Small Talk

Jumping for Joy

Jumping for Joy

Parachute troopers played a decisive role in World War II. The D-Day invasion, which led to the end of the war, began with an attack by American parachute troopers. With their parachute, the troopers carried between 90-120 pounds on their back. They were jumping into unknown territory so they had to be ready for anything!

Thus, it comes as no surprise that the Prager and Rueben Company began making parachute trooper toys. The brown cloth Raggy-Doodle U.S. Paratrooper had a sewn-on aviator’s helmet and goggles. His painted aviation harness kept his heavy backpack and parachute in place. As you can imagine, T/m’s parachute trooper probably had many an adventure jumping out of bedroom windows, and off of tall trees, or maybe the occasional roof. Geronimo!

A Natural Talent: Inspiration Takes Flight

A Natural Talent: Inspiration Takes Flight

Visitors to T/m’s miniature masterpiece gallery will find a case filled with several of Beth Freeman-Kane’s miniature birds and other animals. While the display is still a few penguins short of a zoo, the wildlife represented hails from all over the world, including near Freeman-Kane’s South African Home.

Although her works differ from that of famed ornithologist and painter John James Audubon, her process begins the same way as his: thorough and intense research. Freeman-Kane then sculpts each tiny creature in clay using her hands, pins, scalpels, and sandpaper. A mold is made of the clay sculpture, which is used to cast the final product in resin. Freeman-Kane cleans up the resin sculpture using a dentist’s drill. The final (and most labor-intensive) step is painstakingly painting the feathers, fur, and other details using acrylic gouache. The bee eaters pictured here are perched on a black locust tree branch for added realness.

The Wonderful World of Walter Wick

The Wonderful World of Walter Wick

Anyone who has been to a Scholastic Book Fair in the last 20 years knows the joys of the I Spy and Can You See What I See? books. Think of the hours spent combing the pages for each meticulously placed object! The photographer behind the juvenile book series, Walter Wick, is featured in a retrospective exhibition at the Shelburne Museum this summer.

Walter Wick: Games, Gizmos and Toys in the Attic is a feast for the eyes comprised of Wick’s large-scale photographs and whimsical dioramas. Visitors of all ages are invited to search the visual puzzles for optical illusions and ever-elusive toys. Wick explained that the exhibit’s title “not only describes the contents of the show, but the contents of my head.” We hope he has no plans to declutter anytime soon!
Photo: Walter Wick, Mirror Maze from I Spy Fun House, 1993. Pigmented Inkjet Photograph, 50 x 36 in. Copyright Wick Studio. Organized by the New Britain Museum of American Art.

At Home With the Museum of Miniature Houses

At Home With the Museum of Miniature Houses

The Museum of Miniature Houses & Other Collections located in Carmel, Indiana (it’s pronounced CAR-mel, unlike the town in California) is home to a large assortment of all things small. Despite the museum’s name, you won’t find any of the trendy garden shed-sized “tiny homes,” but you will find a wide variety of small structures including fine-scale miniatures and antique dollhouses.

Founded in 1993, the museum’s collection is as varied as it is wondrous. Seasonal rotating exhibits display everything from model Ford Mustangs to whimsical winter wonderlands. The Museum of Miniature Houses is located in the same town as the National Association of Miniature Enthusiasts (NAME), a non-profit organization that promotes the hobby of miniature making and collecting. You might say the town of Carmel is the place to be for all things small (maybe there’s something in the water!).
Photo: Courtesy of The Museum of Miniature Houses and Other Collections.

A Natural Talent: Beth Freeman-Kane

A Natural Talent: Beth Freeman-Kane

From prehistoric cave paintings at Lascaux and John James Audubon’s catalogue of birds to dynamic National Geographic wildlife photographs, humans have long been fascinated with depicting the natural world. South African miniature artist Beth Freeman-Kane is certainly no different, although her work is on a much smaller scale!

Freeman-Kane has been interested in creating miniatures since she was young- so much so that some of her teachers tried to correct her inclination for small work. It wasn’t until adulthood that she discovered the art form of fine-scale miniatures. Since then, nature has been her muse. Why attempt to recreate complex feather patterns, petal structures and fur markings in miniature? She says, “I am a believer in the significance of small things, and have been impressed by the power in miniatures to compel one to stop, cross the floor and take a closer look … In the same way, we need to stop and take a closer look to appreciate the birds and smaller creatures around us.” We couldn’t have said it better ourselves! Check back soon for a “closer look” at her work.

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