Small Talk

American Folk Art Murals in Miniature

American Folk Art Murals in Miniature

It is believed that the home’s namesake, Ezra Carroll, commissioned the artfully adorned walls in the Ezra Carroll House. Located on a busy east-west thoroughfare near the store he owned, Carroll occupied the home from 1815 until his death in 1844. During this time, he hired itinerant painter William Price to paint the walls of his home.

While all the rage in England and France, scenic wallpaper was expensive to import and difficult to get your hands on. Ever resourceful, Americans folk artists in New York and New England found a DIY solution worthy of a 21st-century pin: hand-painting oil landscapes directly onto dry plaster.

While we know very little about Price, we do know he is the murals’ artist thanks to his signing and dating the work. Some scholars think he may be the same William H. Price that is listed as living in New York City in 1844, and that he may have been a veteran of the War of 1812 because of his depiction of Commander Perry’s victory at the Battle of Lake Erie in one of the murals. Scholars assume that he took inspiration from local and exotic scenic views in order to duplicate the French’s elaborate wallpapers.

Perfect for a Petite Appetite

Perfect for a Petite Appetite

We love food. But a museum, fine-scale artwork, and food don’t exactly mix. Until now. Introducing kawaii cooking (no surprise here, kawaii is Japanese for cute), which uses real-life ingredients and miniature stoves, pots, pans, and utensils to create tiny, edible dishes. Smaller than your Easy Bake Oven, these miniature stoves are powered by tea lights or small flames.

We hope you have a small appetite for dumplings, spaghetti bolognese, cheeseburgers, and crepes. Just like any good cooking show, the sets change to match the recipe! Want to try it at home? Fire up your favorite internet browser! Most of the ingredients and utensils used in the videos are purchased in Japan.

Photo: AAAjoken YouTube channel.

Randy Hage’s New York Storefronts

Randy Hage’s New York Storefronts

For decades, artists have been inspired by the bright lights and bustling streets of New York City. Visual artist Randy Hage is no exception. Hage spent 25 years creating sets, models, and props for television and film before a trip to New York in the late 1990s led him to his next project.

Originally photographing cast iron facades for future art projects, he became entranced by storefronts and the stories that they told. On subsequent trips, he found these ‘mom and pop’ stores disappearing, pushed out by big box stores and rising rents. So, he decided to recreate them in 1:12 scale as a permanent reminder of the establishments and the people who lived in them and served their community.

The results have blown us away, and we challenge you to determine which is the original and which is the miniature.
Photo: NYC Bodega in Miniature, courtesy of Randy Hage.

American Folk Art in Miniature

American Folk Art in Miniature

A visit to the fine-scale miniature galleries at The National Museum of Toys and Miniatures is a trip around the world and through time. Today, our trip takes us to 1830s central New York. Therese Bahl and Jim Ison’s “A Tribute to the Classic Period of American Folk Art” is based on the parlor and hall of the Ezra Carroll House. Formerly in East Springfield, New York, the home was demolished in 1957, but not before the murals were salvaged and preserved at the Winterthur Museum and The Farmers’ Museum (a sigh of relief!). The murals are their own story; we’ll cover them in an upcoming post!

In addition to making miniatures, Bahl teaches early American decorative art and is a professed admirer of American folk artists Peter Ompir and Rufus Porter. Ison specializes in Shaker and Windsor furniture dating from 1650 to 1850. Their 1989 partnership was picture perfect, producing this parlor with a fireplace and two windows alongside an entryway with a staircase and two doors.

A Closer Look at Eleanor’s Fashionable Friend

A Closer Look at Eleanor’s Fashionable Friend

Eleanor Crocker’s beautiful doll Nellie represents a snapshot in the latest Victorian fashions. In the nineteenth century, women kept up to date on the season’s hottest looks by perusing periodicals filled with fashion plates or printed illustrations of dress designs. Some of these designs were made in doll sizes to demonstrate the fits, frills, and lacy details of the full-size gowns. Nellie’s “princess cut” windowpane plaid dress Nellie just wouldn’t be as fabulous in a picture.

French doll makers like E. Barrois and Jumeau capitalized on this trend by manufacturing bisque heads, arms and feet for these fashionable companions. Often, toy shops and department stores purchased the porcelain limbs from these doll makers, sewed them to leather or cloth bodies in-house, and outfitted them according to the mode du jour. Fully assembled dolls were then marketed under the name of a specific retail establishment. It’s likely that this is where Eleanor’s uncle found Nellie back in the 1860s.

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