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THE JOY OF MINI
WHERE I MINI’D
Every June hundreds of miniature enthusiasts gather in a fortresslike bunker of a maritime campus in coastal Maine to learn, teach, and create. When I first visited the International Guild of Miniature Artisans Guild School in 2015, I was floored. And by that time in my life, miniatures had been a part of my DNA for over twenty years.
Seeing the raw talent shine through in every classroom was eye-opening (and hand-cramping) to say the least. I furiously took notes, interviewed instructors and students, and watched with rapt attention as master-quality miniatures took form in a mere matter of days.
Awestruck and hooked on miniatures all over again, I began attending mini shows and exhibitions, reading mini books and magazines, finding mini clubs and organizations, meeting mini makers and collectors, and scouring the dark dwarf web for the latest and greatest small-scale news. I was deep in the mini.
When I was just a mini myself, my mom affixed a chunky 1980s charm necklace to my stroller so it was the first thing I saw when I peered out into the bustling streets of Istanbul. Embedded in my reminiscence, a part of my psyche, a language I’ll always crave to speak: minis.
I came across that charm necklace a few years ago and was flooded with memories about how each miniature charm moved, felt, and sounded. Because who doesn’t love a good mini, right?
WHAT IS MINI?
When we talk about minis, we mean something smaller than its life-sized counterpart. A chair the size of a fig. A fig the size of a Skittle. A Skittle the size of a grain of sand. And yes, a grain of sand so microscopic, you’ll need Willard Wigan’s microscope to see what’s going on (peer into here).
If you’ve already been down this rabbit hole, Welcome [back] to the Dollhouse. But if you’re new to miniatures, I deeply envy your mint lens on this world.
The world of minis is vast and filled with raw talent, dedication, patience, and now—new energy. There’s a major mini resurgence upon us. Thank you, social media, for breathing new life into the mini world by connecting content creators with collectors, museums with makers, and videographers with viral videos of vegetables (being diced into the great beyond, atop a single candle-turned-stove. Yes, we went there, too: take a trip over to thedailymini.com to tap through the top-secret Chapter 12).
WHY I MINI
In hopes of spreading the good word about great minis with the world at large, I launched @dailymini (short for The Daily Miniature) on Instagram in 2012. It was simply a way for me to showcase my collection, amassed over the years, with a small following online. With the help of many, it grew exponentially to become a curated digital showcase for unique and extraordinary miniature work from all around the globe.
With the express permission of the artists, I still feature a new miniature every day and am thrilled to debut new talent and spotlight giants of the field with an international audience. I’m humbled by the miniature community’s massive support as I strive to stay relevant (here) and always respectful. As a self-described miniac, I do what I do out of sheer delight, cruising the seven seas of social media for the next big small thing. So, keep the waves of creative content rolling in!
HOW TO MINI
This minaissance is spectacular. It takes a whole lot of energy to keep up any art or design movement’s momentum.
That’s where you come in. If you see a mini within these pages that makes your heart sing, please—visit the appendix and contact the artist, shop, collector, studio, or museum to let them know. Or, let me know and I’ll be glad to pass along a mini memo with mega meaning. And by here, who knows, you might even find yourself hungry to make a mini of your own.
Place it in your home, on your desk, atop a windowsill, or gift it to a friend. Because the joy of the mini is best felt with the hand and the heart. And discovered through disbelief of a discerning eye.
A dollhouse is a home, no matter who or what’s within. And a mini, well, that’s purely an extension of one’s self, when you start to think about it.
No matter your interest, minis are affordable representations of art, design, literature, architecture, décor, sports, fashion, food—you name it—available in every color, shape, make, material, and, well… a few sizes.
WHEN YOU MINI
Here, we’ll explore the popular 1:12 scale [a 3-foot-tall miniature horse would be 3 inches tall in mini] and some things significantly smaller (take the leap to here).
Within these pages are some of my favorite minis from around the world. Just a lil’ taste to reel you in. To discover or share favorites of your own, check out #dailymini on Instagram and follow along for a new feature every day on @dailymini.
In the meantime, have a little look around to see the big picture. You’ll know when you see feel it. Then maybe we’ll meet in Maine to make minis and memories?
start small, dream big
Kate Esme Ünver
A MICROSCOPIC LENS ON MINIS
A laboratory scientist by trade, Kim Clough gravitates toward miniature meat dishes. She’s active on DeviantArt and Reddit (check out user/fairchildart and r/thingsforants, respectively), and absolutely loves video games. Kim’s been making miniatures since 2008 and borrows inspiration from animated films with gorgeous food scenes.
How did you first get started in miniatures?
I credit my mom, as she’s always been an avid collector of miniatures. There’s something inherently magical about tiny replicas so real you’d think there was a shrink-ray gun lying around.
What steps go into the creation of just one of your miniatures?
Social media is chock-full of devoted food photographers; I love delving into that arena for a dish that would be striking in miniature. Once I’ve picked a subject, I’ll rely on the internet to compile a few images from all angles. While some sculptors keep a collection of common color clay blends, I always start from scratch using base colors. Once I’ve sculpted the basic shape, I’ll tackle textures with a needle, rock, and X-Acto blade.
How does the field of cytogenetics affect your work with miniatures?
It definitely helps fine-tune visual acuity. The two fields are seemingly unrelated but have absolutely fed into each other to keep my focus sharp. The cytogenetics field requires attention to incredibly fine detail; having practice in sculpting has made it become more intuitive.
What is unique about your miniature medium?
Miniature food is unique in that it doesn’t always have to be perfect! Depending on the subject, I might have to continuously scrub my hands to surgical perfection if I want to make a dust-free wedding cake or hamburger bun. With food such as cheese and potatoes, no preparation is really needed as they’re naturally prone to having dirt and other impurities.
How would you describe your work in three words?
Natural, unexpected, thorough.
Who is your ideal would-be collector?
I would be thrilled if I ever found out Amy Sedaris gave one of my miniatures a home! Her sense of humor is brilliant and I was stoked to find out she has an eye for all things tiny.
Any food you’ll likely never make in miniature again?
I’ve made figs in the past because I found them rather pretty with their abundance of seeds and deep purple shading. After eating a sandwich with fig spread, I found the taste to be intensely unpleasant and haven’t sculpted one since!
What is the most unusual material you’ve ever used in your work?
I used cat hair in a pinch for a chinchilla coat.
What’s your experience been like with the mini-making community?
The miniature community has high standards for quality, yet it’s still approachable and welcoming. Since a passion for miniatures often originates from a first dollhouse, there’s a strong feeling of nostalgia that keeps the community thriving. I’m always impressed by the generosity of miniaturists willing to open up about their tricks of the trade.
Approximately how many miniatures do you own?
I currently own about four hundred miniature items, most of them food related! I’ve collected ceramic dishes in bulk to fill and plate with the sweet and the savory.
Most amazing functional miniature you’ve ever seen?
Devin Smith’s functional silk-screen press left me gobsmacked! I could watch the process of making those tiny shirts for hours on end.
Why miniatures? Why miniature food?
I love being able to complete a sculpture in one sitting (the instant gratification is a big pull). I’ve gotten amazing feedback from the miniaturist community and being able to send my miniatures all over the world is completely surreal.
Food is always appealing from the sheer variety of textures and shapes involved (and the references are delicious).
GERRIT VAN WERVEN
ERIKA ANNE PITERA
MANUELA P. MICHIELI
PUI WAN LIM
A BLOSSOMING LOVE FOR MINIATURES
Pia Becker earned her degree in history and archaeology while simultaneously creating 1:12 scale flowers and plants for international miniature shows and exhibitions. When she’s not making minuscule petals or leaves, Pia spends her days working for her family business in a small German town near Stuttgart.
How did you first get started with miniatures?
I already had a dollhouse as a kid and my mom and I bought stuff for it, even when I was a teenager. We never sold it and about twelve years ago, we discovered that there are whole shows only for miniatures. My first visit was to one in Giessen, Germany, and I did not know where to look first. That’s when I started my first attempts with Fimo clay and other materials. In 2009, I attended a workshop a friend of mine taught: orchids. I fell in love with making flowers and that’s what I’m doing now. I’ve been making miniatures for twelve years now, and working on miniature flowers for almost a decade.
If you were to guess, approximately how many minis do you have in your collection?
- "A lifelong collector of tiny items and popular Instagrammer @dailymini, Ünver selects hundreds of pieces of artwork (many never seen before) organized into such sections as tiny food, diminutive wildlife, and petite pottery."—Publishers Weekly, Spring Announcements feature
- On Sale
- Apr 16, 2019
- Page Count
- 256 pages
- Black Dog & Leventhal