Small Talk / Miniature

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!

Seeing Double

Adoration of the Magi

In Kansas City, you can see the same painting in two different museums located only blocks apart. But, how could that be?! That’s because one is a miniature at The National Museum of Toys and Miniatures! Lee-Ann Chellis Wessel, an IGMA Fellow since 1989, added egg tempera painting to her repertoire after traveling and studying in Italy. She reproduces works of “The Old Masters,” such as Gherardo di Jacopo Starna, on tiny wooden panels. Adoration of the Magi can be seen in full-scale at The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art.

Art museums across the world feature masterpieces depicting the Adoration of the Magi, the name traditionally given to images of three kings, or wise men, visiting Jesus in the nativity after following a star to find him. The three magi, commonly considered to be Melchior (a Persian scholar), Caspar (an Indian scholar), and Balthazar (an Arabian scholar), bring Jesus gifts. They’re not at the top of our wish list, but they were ordinary offerings for a king: gold (a valuable metal), frankincense (used as a perfume), and myrrh (used as an anointing oil).

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