Small Talk

A Trip to the Moon

A Trip to the Moon

In honor of Marble Day today we thought we’d roll with one of our good friends and favorite local toy businesses, Moon Marble Company (as well as fit in as many marble puns as possible). Named one of the 8 Wonders of Kansas Commerce, Moon Marble is the only store in the country where you can buy toy marbles and handmade, art marbles, and watch them being made! No, we haven’t lost our marbles. At Moon Marble, you can marble at artisan and owner Bruce Breslow turning molten glass into a ball of fun while he shares his knowledge in glass working and marble history. Talk about multi-tasking!

Since 1997, Breslow has knuckled down making approximately a thousand marbles a year. And don’t take his works of art from granite; his handmade marbles sell for $20 to $250. We’re not fudging! But if you’re in the mood to play for keepsies, Moon Marble also offers machine-made version for as little as ten cents.
Photo: Moon Marble Company.

Mathematical Miniatures

Mathematical Miniatures

Many of the artists represented in T/m’s miniature collection had some formal artistic training in their medium, although maybe not on a fine-scale. For example, Allison Ashby and Steve Jedd worked on theatrical stage design and construction before taking up building fine-scale room settings and structures. One of the most prolific miniature makers, Emily Good, however, had a quite different training when she found the art form in the early 1970s.

Good earned an advanced degree in physics and worked as a physicist and mathematician for most of her adult life. In 1971, she discovered the art of miniatures after making a small Christmas room scene to decorate her home. With her creativity sparked, she applied her mathematical know-how and passion for creating into everything she made and eventually opened a miniatures business. Considered one of the earlier contemporary fine-scale miniature makers, Emily Good was a jack of all trades and worked in a variety of media including ceramic, metal, wood, and fibers.

Visit Beautiful Elgin Park

Visit Beautiful Elgin Park

Part of the allure of miniatures is that they give us the opportunity to create entire worlds in a small amount of space. For Michael Paul Smith, that corner of the world is Elgin Park, a fictional city based on mid-twentieth-century small-town America. Inspired by painful childhood experiences, Elgin Park is a utopian place that allows Smith’s creativity to flourish. At first glance, Elgin Park may seem a bit like Mayberry, but a closer look will reveal some of its mysterious secrets.

Using skills he learned by being an architectural model maker (and other numerous jobs), Smith constructs 1:24 scale buildings, houses, and streetscapes that appear realistically worn and weathered. These miniature scenes are outfitted with appropriately scaled die cast vintage cars. In order to achieve the realistic background in the photos of Elgin Park, the miniature scenes are photographed outside against the (full-scale) horizon, a technique called forced perspective photography. Over the last few years, Smith unexpectedly gained international attention after his Flickr page began receiving millions of hits, which eventually prompted him to publish a book of his photography.
Photo: Studio Back Lot, Michael Paul Smith.

A Hall of Collections

A Hall of Collections

Within the museum’s collection, we have a lot of sub-collections. We also know a lot of people that have great collections on view in their homes or lovingly tucked away in boxes. And that’s when it dawned on us… why not make a hall in the newly-renovated museum dedicated to highlighting these collections?! Shortly after, the Hall of Collections was born. The hall features eight cases that will rotate annually to feature different beloved playthings.

What can you find in the hallway now? Toy dishes from England, France, and Germany dating to the late 19th century; Star Wars toys from the first three films, including Kenner’s original display standard for the first four action figures produced; Madame Alexander dolls, including the Dionne Quintuplets, Jane Wither, and Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis; toy school rooms from the United States, Germany, France, and Spain; boards games from the 1930s and 1940s; and, of course, we couldn’t leave out marbles!

Last, but not least, one case features the museum’s new Aaronel deRoy Gruber Disney Collection. Donated by the family of the internationally recognized artist, the collection features tin and mechanical toys that show the stages of Disney character development from The Marx Merry Makers Mouse Band to the modern Mickey Mouse.

Imagining Home

Imagining Home

We already know that fine-scale miniatures are an important part of any fine art collection. And the Baltimore Museum of Art (BMA) agrees. The Cheney Miniatures Gallery at the BMA features miniature rooms with English and American interior styles of the 17th to the 19th century. BMA honorary trustee Elizabeth F. Cheney commissioned Eugene Kupjack to create the rooms.

Four of the BMA’s 1:12 scale rooms are included in their newest exhibition Imagining Home, which explores different ideas and aspects of the places in which we live – whether decorative or functional, real or ideal, celebratory or critical. The exhibit, on view until August 1, 2018, will continually rotate works so there will always be something new to see. We for one would like to see Kupjack’s Shaker Community room, Southern Plantation entrance hall, New Orleans Rococo Revival Parlor, and urban New England Dining Room.
Photo: Eugene J. Kupjack. Entrance Hall in a Southern Plantation, 1780-1810. 1963-1984. The Baltimore Museum of Art: Gift of the Elizabeth F. Cheney Foundation, Chicago, and Mr. and Mrs. Kenneth S. Battye, Baltimore. BMA 2012.626

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