Small Talk / Miniature

Replicating The House That Abe Built

Lincoln Cabin Close-up

Steve Jedd estimates that he and Allison Ashby spent roughly 800 hours on their miniature replica of Abraham Lincoln’s boyhood home. During a visit to The National Museum of Toys and Miniatures in 2011, the artists told us that their work is illusion, that the scale, especially the scale of the wood grain and the wood’s durability, is more important than the authenticity of the materials.

Ashby and Jedd built Lincoln’s cabin from the ground up with a stone foundation and fireplace of carved and painted basswood, and door and windows of beech. They used old Cyprus for the flooring because it looks like pine. And in order to make the logs look hand hewn, they took cedar lumber, cut it down to length, and then used hammers, chisels, and wire brushes to make it look weathered.

The House That Abe Built

Lincoln Log Cabin

Miniature artists Allison Ashby and Steve Jedd’s love for miniatures lies in the stories and history behind the objects they miniaturize. We’ll be using this very Presidential month here at Small Talk to explore the creation of a presidential home. Nope, its not a neoclassical Federal style white home in Washington, D.C, but it is a National Park Service Historic Site.

In 1816, Abraham Lincoln’s family moved from Kentucky to this cabin in Southern Indiana. From the age of 7 to 21, Lincoln helped (alright you caught us… his dad built it, but he helped!) carve a farm and home out of the frontier forests. Ashby and Jedd spent time in the National Park Service’s archives for information on the cabin and then spent two and a half days taking photographs, measuring, and drawing the cabin (with permission of course). Check back here to find out how many hours the artist spent building this miniature!

Love Chest Revisited

Hadley Chest Behind-the-Scenes

We always feel very fortunate here at The National Museum of Toys and Miniatures when artists give us a behind-the-scenes look at the creation of their masterpieces like this Hadley Chest by James Hastrich and Linda LaRoche. In order to accurately reproduce historical pieces such as the Hadley Chest at Historic Deerfield, museums grant artists access to collection objects so they can take detailed measurements and photographs.

In service to scale, miniature artists substitute woods like plum, pear, cherry and boxwood for the smaller grain. The smaller, tighter grain creates the same effect as the soft maple, chestnut, oak and white pine used on the full scale Hadley Chest.

All About Scale

Spinning Wheels

At The National Museum of Toys and Miniatures, the little “m” in our logo stands for fine-scale miniatures. So, what is a fine-scale miniature? It’s a high quality, functioning object that is built to scale. Scale is the defined size ratio between the full size object and the miniature object. Most of the miniatures in T/m’s collection are 1:12 scale (or 1/12 scale) where one inch in the miniature equals one foot in the full-scale object.

The spinning wheel on the right is in the 1:12 scale. The one on the left is in the 1:6 scale where two inches in the miniature equals one foot in the full-scale object. Not only are we super impressed by the craftsmanship, but also by all the tricky math involved in creating these perfectly scaled masterpieces!

Come Mold The Menorah

Menorah Molds and Sketches

Between 1940 and 1947, silversmith William B. Meyers created two intricate menorahs. Lucky for us, his original plans and molds reside in The National Museum of Toys and Miniatures’s archives and give us insight into his process. Meyers started by sketching out his design.

Next, he created a model of the menorah from his sketches so he could construct a closed rubber mold. A closed mold has two halves that are pressed together. Molten metal is poured through a channel (located at the bottom of Meyers’s mold) to reach the mold cavity where the metal hardens. Once the menorah is removed from the mold, any excess metal would be filed away. We’re very fortunate that William B. Meyers left such a fantastic record of his process!

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