Small Talk Tag: Miniature

The Smallest Samurai

miniature samurai

Japanese Samurais wore some of the most intricate and artful armor in world history. Starting in the year 792, landowners in Japan began assembling their own defensive forces which gave rise to Samurai culture. Teams of craftsmen were involved in the process of creating their dazzling armor, including metalsmiths, leather workers, painters, and more.

Recreated here in 1:12 scale , artist Isabella Gallaon-Aoki single-handedly undertook the efforts of that entire team of full-scale craftspeople. The diminutive warrior is bedecked in a costume made of jacquard silk, hand painted leather, and fur accents. Atop his kabuto, or helmet, is a carved golden dragon. While we can’t confirm or deny that the collection objects come to life at night like in Night at the Museum, we like to think this guy would guard his fellow miniatures with exceptional skill using his bow, known as a yumi.

A Bitty Baby House

miniature baby house

Contrary to what the name might lead you to believe, this 1:12 scale miniature isn’t actually meant to represent a “house for babies.” The term baby house refers to 17th and 18th-century dollhouses, typically in the Netherlands and England. This early type of dollhouse was usually a wooden cabinet on legs, with compartments decorated and furnished like a miniature estate.

This Baby House was constructed by artist Gilbert Mena. It features turned legs and finials and two functional doors decorated with one-point perspective marquetry scenes. The rooms within the baby house were made by artist Nell Corkin, who had the task of miniaturizing furnishings that would have been already tiny in full-scale! If you look closely, you’ll find diminutive delftware, two neatly made beds, and even a dollhouse pet resting on a pillow.

From Whittling to Wood Carving: Tudor Furniture

Tudor Furniture

In addition to the beautiful wood carvings (link to previous blog post) adorning this Tudor bedroom’s walls and ceiling, Thomas Warner crafted the furniture. The chairs with crossed legs and the four-poster bed’s ornate details are carved out of walnut. The bible stand, or prie-dieu, is also intricately carved with a cross and features a slanted and hinged top.

Additional miniature artists lent their skills to furnish the room with rich textiles: needlework from Annelle Ferguson, upholstery by Frank Hanley and Jeffery Gueno (of Le Chateau Interiors), and an embroidery frame and gold jewel box by William R. Robertson.

The Little Big Apple

Panorama of the City of New York

New York City’s tall buildings and busy sidewalks make it easy for the average pedestrian to feel, well, pretty small. Visitors to the Queens Museum, however, have the chance to reverse that feeling by taking a trip to the Panorama of the City of New York. The panorama depicts all five NYC boroughs in super-small 1:1200 scale (one inch equals 100 feet).

Originally built for the 1964 World’s Fair, the panorama was billed as an indoor helicopter tour of New York (the helicopters were actually plastic cars on a rolling track.) Since then, it has been updated several times (the last being in 1992) to reflect new skyscrapers, parks, and other new features. In 2009, the Queens Museum launched an Adopt-a-Building program to help preserve the model and bring it up to date yet again. At $50 a building, that’s the cheapest rent in NYC!
Photo by Scott Rudd, courtesy of Queens Museum.

From Whittling to Wood Carving: A Tudor Bedroom

tudor style woodwork

Thomas Warner received a pocketknife when he was just four years old, or so the story goes. From that moment on, Warner was a wood carver. Later in life, he would say that he “stumbled into” miniatures by adapting his life-long fondness for whittling into the more sophisticated crafting of miniatures.

In high school shop class, Warner gathered skills to make many of his own tools, including router beds, chisels, and finishing tools. And years of work as a mechanical engineer and draftsman trained him for precise scale workmanship. Warner’s English Tudor style bedroom at T/m has a carved white ceiling and dark wood walls. Unfortunately, Warner became too ill to finish the room, and fellow miniature artist William R. Robertson stepped in to add the finishing touches.

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