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Exploring the Art of Flora and Fauna Miniatures with Calleen Carver

T/m’s Collection Manager, Calleen Carver, recently embarked on an artistic journey at Guild School in Castine, Maine. Among the classes she took, one with Pia Becker, who makes miniatures inspired by plants and flowers, left a lasting impression. Carver shared the process, resulting in a stunning forsythia shrub that she is immensely proud of.

When asked about her motivation for choosing Pia Becker’s class, Carver expressed her interest in exploring new techniques beyond her usual comfort zone. Coming from a background of working with lathes and drill presses, the opportunity to engage in this style of artistry fascinated her. She found the techniques to be challenging, as she enthusiastically declared, “every part of the process blew my mind.”

Creating the foundation of the forsythia shrub required Carver to employ floral wire, carefully shaping it to form the trunk and limb structure. To mimic the appearance of mulch and dirt, Becker guided her students to use brewed loose-leaf tea, which lent a realistic texture to the base Carver created. Detailing the trunk and limbs, Carver employed a mixture of fine sand and paint, to create a textured surface.

Carver painted yellow tissue paper with yellow acrylic paint, to capture the essence of the blossoms. Each delicate bloom was then cut out, adding a touch of realism to the branches. This meticulous process of hand-painting and cutting brought the forsythia shrub to life. Each evening after class, Carver diligently worked in her dorm room, attaching the crafted flowers. For connecting the delicate flowers to the limbs, Carver separated embroidery floss into 12 strands, ensuring precise placement of the flower stems.

Carver used an Optivisor, a binocular headband magnifier known for facilitating close and accurate workmanship. This tool proved indispensable, allowing Carver to absorb herself in the intricacies of her miniature creation.

Undoubtedly, Carver found Becker’s class to be a challenging endeavor, but one that she cherishes as her proudest artistic achievement. Reflecting on the Guild School projects, she shared, “I was most proud of the one piece I didn’t finish.” Carver noted, “it was definitely more time-consuming, but worth every moment invested.” Carver achieved a remarkable piece that is still a work in progress but already showcases stunning beauty, one delicate bloom at a time.


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