Small Talk Tag: Miniature

Mini Mirror on the Wall

Needlepoint Mirror

Constructed with rich materials in fine detail, this miniature needlepoint mirror looks like it could play a part in a tiny version of Snow White. The mirror’s stitched frame by miniaturist Annelle Ferguson is based on traditional 17th century design and depicts a king and queen, flowers, vines, and a fawn. The tortoiseshell and boxwood outer frame was painstakingly constructed by William R. Robertson. We personally think this mirror is definitely in the running for “fairest of them all.”

How can miniature artists like Ferguson achieve such tiny needlepoint? Well, it’s simple mathematics (ok, plus a lot of talent). Miniature needlepoint or petit point takes the art form to a smaller level by using finer canvases with higher thread counts and by using specialized needles made for working on a fine scale. Sounds easy enough to start your own needlepoint project, right? Whatever you do, just be sure to finish it! Then again, maybe we should leave the stitchery up to the pros for now.

Inspiring A Collection

The exterior of Colleen Moore's Fairy Castle prior to the conservation. [J.B. Spector, Museum of Science and Industry]

One of the major inspirations for the modern fine-scale miniature movement is Colleen Moore’s Fairy Castle at the Museum of Science and Industry Chicago. The miniature, yet grand structure was completed in 1935 by artists and craftsmen of the day, and is similar to Queen Mary’s Dollhouse at Windsor Castle. It includes not only stunning miniature architectural details, but also tiny fine art pieces ranging from ancient antiquities to modern murals. Inspired by different fairy tales and folk tales such as The Three Little Pigs, Cinderella, and Gulliver’s Travels, each room tells a different story!

Colleen Moore’s Fairy Castle has been on display at the Museum of Science and Industry since 1949. Just like many older houses, the Fairy Castle’s electrical and plumbing systems (yes, miniature plumbing!) were in need of an upgrade in order to prevent damage to the structure and its contents. Earlier this year, a team of conservators revamped the castle, preserving it for generations to come.

Photo: The exterior of Colleen Moore’s Fairy Castle prior to conservation. [J.B. Spector, Museum of Science and Industry]

An Art Nouveau Spring

Jardinere

As everyone begins dreaming of warmer weather and flowers blooming, we thought we’d take a look at Linda LaRoche’s jardinière. Your gardening plans may even involve a jardinière, a large usually ceramic flowerpot holder. Jardinières, from the French feminine form of gardener, tend to be highly decorated like LaRoche’s replica of Flora Marina, Flora Exotica by Emile Gallé.

Flora Marina, Flora Exotica was presented at the 1889 World’s Fair in Paris and now resides in Musée de l’École de Nancy. Devoted to the Nancy Art Nouveau movement founded in 1901 by several artists (including Gallé) in Nancy, Lorraine, France, the museum has over 400 of his glass and ceramic works. T/m houses the miniature version of the work that was 14 years in the making; see just what went into this specially commissioned piece over the next several weeks.

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.

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