Small Talk Tag: Allison Ashby

Wright to Scale

William E. Martin House

With their dramatic horizontal lines, open floor plans, and cantilevered roofs, architect Frank Lloyd Wright’s homes are some of the most iconic in American history. Wright’s famous Prairie Style of domestic architecture took inspiration from the Midwestern landscape. The William E. Martin House is a beautiful example of one of these homes, coincidentally only a few blocks away from Wright’s own home and studio in Oak Park, Illinois. Today, the home is still a private residence, so your best chance to see it up close is here at T/m!

Built in 1902, the William E. Martin House was the inspiration for Allison Ashby and Steve Jedd’s 1:12 scale breakfast room. All of the room’s architectural details are accounted for in miniature. As with other works, Ashby and Jedd have substituted woods in order to mimic the full-size solid oak grain in miniature. The individually laid floor boards are made of basswood and the trim is made of cherry. In order to give the appearance of stucco, the miniature room’s walls were covered with muslin and faux-finished using layers of transparent acrylic glazes.

Furnishing The House That Abe Built

Lincoln Log Cabin Interior

Allison Ashby and Steve Jedd not only searched for information about the cabin structure when they delved into the National Park Service’s archives; they were also searching for information about the interior. Most of the items in the home, with the exception of the spinning wheel, pottery, weaving, and food, were made by Ashby and Jedd.

The corner cabinet in the back, left corner of the cabin is modeled after a piece by Abe’s father, Thomas Lincoln, who was a cabinetmaker. The pegs in the back wall are a homemade ladder that the boys, Abe and his step-brother John, used to climb to the loft where they slept. The artists decided to include the pegs after reading accounts that Lincoln wrote about watching the snow through the roof shingles.

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!