Small Talk Tag: 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.

At Home With the Museum of Miniature Houses

museum of miniature houses

The Museum of Miniature Houses & Other Collections located in Carmel, Indiana (it’s pronounced CAR-mel, unlike the town in California) is home to a large assortment of all things small. Despite the museum’s name, you won’t find any of the trendy garden shed-sized “tiny homes,” but you will find a wide variety of small structures including fine-scale miniatures and antique dollhouses.

Founded in 1993, the museum’s collection is as varied as it is wondrous. Seasonal rotating exhibits display everything from model Ford Mustangs to whimsical winter wonderlands. The Museum of Miniature Houses is located in the same town as the National Association of Miniature Enthusiasts (NAME), a non-profit organization that promotes the hobby of miniature making and collecting. You might say the town of Carmel is the place to be for all things small (maybe there’s something in the water!).
Photo: Courtesy of The Museum of Miniature Houses and Other Collections.

A Natural Talent: Beth Freeman-Kane

Beth Freeman-Kane

From prehistoric cave paintings at Lascaux and John James Audubon’s catalogue of birds to dynamic National Geographic wildlife photographs, humans have long been fascinated with depicting the natural world. South African miniature artist Beth Freeman-Kane is certainly no different, although her work is on a much smaller scale!

Freeman-Kane has been interested in creating miniatures since she was young- so much so that some of her teachers tried to correct her inclination for small work. It wasn’t until adulthood that she discovered the art form of fine-scale miniatures. Since then, nature has been her muse. Why attempt to recreate complex feather patterns, petal structures and fur markings in miniature? She says, “I am a believer in the significance of small things, and have been impressed by the power in miniatures to compel one to stop, cross the floor and take a closer look … In the same way, we need to stop and take a closer look to appreciate the birds and smaller creatures around us.” We couldn’t have said it better ourselves! Check back soon for a “closer look” at her work.

School is Now in Session

IGMA Guild School

Where do miniature artists hone their craft or (quite literally) learn the tools of the trade? Sadly, no, the answer isn’t a miniature version of Hogwarts. Every summer, the International Guild of Miniature Artisans (IGMA) hosts students in Castine, Maine for six-days of workshops and classes led by some of the world’s leading fine-scale miniature artists.

The event, known as Guild School, welcomes all skill levels from beginner to advanced. This year, participants can learn silversmithing, leathercrafting, wheel-thrown pottery, pizza making (yes!) and more from some of our favorite artists, including Pete Acquisto and William R. Robertson. Do you dabble in miniature making and want to build your skills? An annual Guild School Scholarship is available to a promising artist. Who knows, maybe your work will end up in a museum someday!
Photo: Courtesy of IGMA Guild School.

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!

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