Small Talk

First-Class Miniatures

First-Class Miniatures

Every December, we get pretty excited to see the latest gingerbread house creations that pop up on social media. After all, they are miniature structures, and they’re covered in candy and frosting! Miniature artist Teresa Layman is well-known for her intricately sweet houses—she’s even written a couple books on how to make them yourself.

Several years back, Layman asked her local postmaster about how postage stamp designs were chosen. The process begins with the submission of ideas to the Citizen’s Advisory Stamp Committee, and then a lot of waiting. Luckily, Layman’s postmaster put her in contact with a Postal Service stamps photographer who just happened to live a mile away. The photographer, Sally Andersen-Bruce, worked with Layman and USPS art director Derry Noyes over the course of a couple years to create a winning combination of four perfectly delectable gingerbread houses for the 2013 holiday season. How sweet is that!?
Photo: USPS.com

A Bitty Belter Parlor

A Bitty Belter Parlor

In 1982, Thomas Warner completed the Belter Parlor, so named for the style of furniture by John Henry Belter that adorns the room. Warner’s work was also inspired by many of his fellow miniature artists, including Harry Cooke, John Davenport, Arlyn Coad, and Hermania Anslinger.

The Belter Parlor features hand carved, detailed reproductions of Belter’s circa 1850 designs. In June 1987, Warner told Nutshell News that the Belter Parlor holds the best pieces he had ever created.

Warner became a miniature-making team with his wife Gloria Warner. If one didn’t like to or couldn’t do one aspect of a miniature, the other one could. Gloria often upholstered the furniture that Thomas carved. In the Belter Parlor, Gloria also made the drapes, while Henry Whalon made the rugs.

Dollhouse Therapy

Dollhouse Therapy

What started as a hobby, became a cause and grew into a movement. In 2006, a woman named Ann made her first dollhouse. Having enjoyed making it, but having no real purpose for it, she sold it at a loss. Her daughter, who was working with children undergoing chemo at the nearby hospital, suggested that next time she donate it to the hospital.

In no time, Dollhouses For Kids Battling Cancer was born. As of 2014, Ann had made and donated more than 336 dollhouses to children in 21 states, and even Canada! Several businesses have partnered with Ann to provide her with supplies, including The Magical Dollhouse.

But Ann couldn’t get the dollhouses to the kids without the help of her “Dollhouse Delivery Angels.” She has 105 angels in 37 states that help transport the dollhouses from Ann’s home in New York across the country. Each angel drives an average of 489 miles to deliver dollhouses. We think they’re all angels; check out Ann’s Facebook page to see how you can join their ranks!
Photo: Courtesy of Dollhouses For Kids Battling Cancer.

Dreidel, Dreidel, Dreidel

Dreidel, Dreidel, Dreidel

While our dreidel may not be made out of clay, it sure can spin! The dreidel is a four-sided spinning toy, and a game traditionally played during the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah. Each side of our dreidel has a letter from the Hebrew alphabet written in black ink. When put together, they form the acronym NGHS: in translation, “a great miracle happened there.”

The rules of the game haven’t changed much since it originated in the Medieval period. Each player starts out with an equal number of game pieces, typically gelt. Players take turns spinning the dreidel and following the instructions for the side that lands up: do nothing, take the whole pot, take half the pieces in the pot, or place a game piece in the pot. This year, the first night of Hanukkah is December 6, so get your gelt (real or chocolate), ready!

Cheers! Prost!

Cheers! Prost!

From Oktoberfest celebrations to biergartens, Germans definitely know how to drink in style. This uniquely designed figural toasting cup is rooted in the rich cultural and folk traditions of the country. The origins of the design come from a folk tale in which the daughter of a nobleman fell in love with a commoner who was a goldsmith. The wealthy nobleman locked the goldsmith away, but eventually agreed to let him marry his daughter if he could make a chalice from which two people can drink at the same time without spilling one single drop. Of course the goldsmith created this hinged cup to make the feat possible, and the rest was history. How’s that for German engineering!

Although not a fine-scale miniature, this cup is much smaller than life-sized, and resides in the Josephine Bird Dollhouse along with many of Josephine’s European souvenirs and artistic furnishings. We like to imagine that two of Josephine’s dolls had a very fancy wedding ceremony and enacted the traditional “Who Runs the Nest” toast using this cup.

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