Small Talk / Miniature

A Rare Gem: The Architecture of the Art Deco Jewelry Store

art deco interiors

When Mulvaney & Rogers were approached to create a work for T/m’s collection, they were immediately drawn to the decadent styling of art deco interiors. Full-size art deco architectural motifs were a blend of patterns from ancient cultures in Mesoamerica and Egypt and machine-age geometry. For their miniature jewelry store interior, the artists gathered inspiration from the Netherland Plaza Hotel in Cincinnati, the transatlantic ocean liner Normandie, and the Nieman Marcus department store in San Francisco.

Mulvaney & Rogers’s room setting is a luxurious two-story interior complete with gilded railings and doors, a jewel-shaped display case, and richly adorned walls. From the faux-painted marble floor to the golden domed ceiling, every detail reflects Art Deco design. Mulvaney & Rogers also designed the interior and exterior lighting to give the appearance that it is dusk outside. Up next: jewelry shopping.

A Rare Gem: Collaborating on the Art Deco Jewelry Store

art deco jewelry

The jazz age of the 1920s and 1930s effectively put the final nail in the coffin of the Victorian and Edwardian eras. During that time, the world saw the rise of a new type of popular music, new fashion trends (that still appear today), and a new form of art and architecture known as Art Deco. While our hometown of Kansas City has many examples of Art Deco buildings, our favorite example is our 1:12 scale miniature Art Deco Jewelry Store.

Specially commissioned by T/m’s co-founder Barbara Marshall, the Art Deco Jewelry Store is the product of a collaboration between several miniature artists. Kevin Mulvany and Susie Rogers (best known as just Mulvany & Rogers) built the architectural space and jewelry counter. María José Santos created the miniature couple and dapper salesman figures. Robert Ward beaded the magnificent chandelier. Last, but not least, Lori Ann Potts is responsible for the miniature “bling” inside of the jewelry cases. Stick with us as we zoom in on the details of this jazzy miniature!

A Natural Talent: Inspiration Takes Flight

miniature birds

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 Write Stuff

john davenport miniature

Several things might come to mind when you think of the word “secretary:” Dolly Parton’s character in the movie 9 to 5, current U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, or maybe even the 1973 Triple Crown winner… oh wait, that’s Secretariat. In furniture, a secretary refers to a large cabinet with drawers, compartments, and a flat writing surface. Historically, secretaries vary in size, style, and functionality from very ornate to compact and sleek. Long before Siri sent emails for us, secretaries were all the rage.

Miniature artist John Davenport created the German Secretary pictured here based on designs from eighteenth-century schreibschränke (or writing cabinets). The secretary has 23 drawers fitted with brass hardware; three of which have a working lock and key. Most notably, a pair of one-point perspective marquetry landscapes adorn the outside, the larger of which is on the hinged panel that becomes the writing surface when opened. If you were about five inches tall, this secretary would be the perfect piece of furniture to pen your memoir, write a letter, or work on your blog!

Seeing Double: The Devil’s in the Details

william r. robertson

And details there are! We’ve never tried it ourselves, but given a steady hand and a pair of tweezers, each microscopic door latch in Twin Manors can be locked with a sliver of a key. Every window glides open in its frame except for two fake windows on each side of the façade. These provide symmetry to the home, which was a very important aspect of Georgian-era design. And artist William R. Robertson even painted the brickwork with pigment made from the dust of 18th century brick!

Next time you visit T/m look closely and you can see a sampler in the back hallway by Robertson’s mom Esther Robertson. The sampler commemorates the completion of the two houses; the one in T/m’s home is dated 1989 for the first year the manor was on display. Come see it for yourself August 1, 2015 when the museum reopens!

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