Sunday, February 28, 2016

The Heart of the Miniature MATTER.

"Fix your eyes on perfection and you make almost everything speed towards it. William Ellery Channing

I want to introduce you to a long gone miniaturist who obviously was obsessed with perfection. At least that is what shows up in his work.

His name is Frank Matter and he passed away in 1977.  During his lifetime he made the most incredible miniatures. Everyday things, copied exactly, working, and of course, without the use of computer graphics. 

I first read about Frank in the old Nutshell News. I lot of his items were in the collection of John and Ellen Blauer. In that article was a description of a fountain pen made exactly like a real fountain pen. Rubber bladder and all. Can you even imagine?

Anyway, I was aware that Adell Venus collected miniatures as far back as the 1950's. (she was a customer of mine, became my friend and also told me she had that fountain pen so I knew she had a lot of Frank's things)  I was luck enough to get just a very FEW things of Frank's from Adell's auction and below is one.

Looks like a very nice bathroom scale, right? But, guess what? When you press on it the dial actually moves. So a dollhouse inhabitant might very well check her weight each morning. (The scale is metal)

I managed to learn a good bit about Frank from Bill Robertson who happens to be an incredible miniature artisan himself. Just have a peek see at some of his amazing work .

One of his stories about Frank involves "the world's smallest pipe" that Frank advertised in magazines. Luckily I got one out of Adell's collection. He sold things in those gelatin capsules and I am probably the first person to touch this pipe when I removed it for photographing. Pretty sure Adell left things as she got them and just put them away. It is in point of fact a working pipe.

According to Bill, the Kansas City Museum  has a large collection of Frank Matter's creations. I have not yet been but if you get there make sure you get to see these miniature miracles. (And if you have seen them, tell me about them in the comments. Please.)

Here are a few other bits I managed to acquire.
 Just as an FYI, remember that Frank was working long before computers and printers and these tiny bars of soap are HAND PAINTED. Same goes for the cigarettes.
 You do tend to see lots of sewing things about all over in miniatures. But none so perfect. Looks like to me Frank used ivorine or celluloid to make the thread cards.
The little thread storage piece turns to let the spools out. Clever.

 There is much more to Frank Matter. These tiny little scraps that I am so lucky to own are just a minuscule example of what he was capable of.  He worked in wood, silver, paint, ivory, and included furniture, games, musical instruments, toys, clocks and more.  He also made a 1:48 scale house and created nearly every item in the house, including working clocks, paintings and a tiny silver tea service. 

There is very little about Frank anywhere on the 'net and I am happy to bring him to your attention. 

So what do ya think?

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Making Minis with Idris Elba


 PSYCH !!!!
Sorry for that, but in a way, kinda true. I watch/listen to Netflix while working and my latest was watching/listening to the British drama series, Luther  While I worked Idris was right there with me. So I wasn't lying actually.

Here's what came out:

 I put together this Paleontologist's paraphernalia. Cute little Mastodon skeleton model right? Books, fossils too. If you'd like to own it here ya go.

 While I am not an animal maker, I do give it a shot now and again. This sculpted Afgan Hound is furred with Alpaca fibers. This was a hit and miss project that took more than several episodes of Luther.

I have done one of these before and this one is a bit different. The original is one of my most popular pins on Pinterest. So, another one.

I got this industrial barrel in an auction lot of stuff I wanted and this was extraneous to my needs. I thought it needed some toxic waste.

And some bird houses. Don't like the roof on the first one, so have since ripped it off. But now I have run out of Idris... 

Most of this will be on my Ebay.

Signed up for my Newsletter?  Do and you will get a nice surprise. For free.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

A Day in The Life - A Miniature Life.

"The reinvention of daily life means marching off the edge of our maps." Bob Black

I have a feeling if you are like me, you march off the edge of your map daily.  By that I mean, we start off with one project and by the end of the day are way off the trail.  A long way from where we started.

I wake up thinking about miniatures and pretty much go to bed the same way. This usually entails what I plan for the day and then what I never got to that day.

I was working on some chairs recently that I wanted to reupholster and had all of that spread out on one work table.


Choosing fabrics for several pieces had me stumped so I looked for a distraction.Then some tea sets I had ordered caught my eye. These were meant to be made up into magically pouring tea sets like this:

Oh, and there's some finished chairs. Here's another one:
*The customer who won this on eBay said she was disappointed with the "quality of the chair" (Bespaq) because "it's light weight and cheap and small (again, Bespaq) and not worth what I paid for it. "I thought it would be oversized and not so cheap looking" (once again perfectly scaled Bespaq).  I told her to return it for a full refund. Never heard from her again. When this happens I have to think they were trying to either get  a partial refund or a full refund and then get to keep the piece. Not. But I digress and am off the path again, as you can see.

So there are the tea sets:
They are commercial pieces that I bought online or on eBay and the quality varies widely with one set being much too big for 1:12 scale. I have an order for a magical set but couldn't decide which to start with and ended up not starting.

BUT. Someone had inquired about a dormouse in a tea pot and I had just gotten this new modeling compound called Bees Putty from Germany. I sculpted this mouse in the too big tea pot because sometimes too big is just right. And the Bees Putty is pretty neat stuff.

"Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?"
"That depends a good deal on where you want to get to", said the Cat. Alice  

I looked back at the tea sets, thought the silver tray was too big and thought maybe it should be painted to go with some Italian pottery I had done recently:
 Actually these were another wandering when I came across some turned wooden pots and some larger terracotta pots I got in a lot on eBay. Because I wanted the strawberry planter in the lot.  (Which I broke as soon as it arrived.) I came across them many a time and finally came up with something to do with them while trolling Pinterest.

So the tray got a coat of gesso. Black gesso. I do love the black stuff. 
I never went further with the tray because I got distracted again. I put away the fabric and tea sets - getting pretty crowded on all 3 of my work desks - and decided to clean up the whole lot. I probably don't have to tell you that once you start that 25 other projects present themselves. 
 Please tell my I'm not alone. Post your wanderings below.  

Friday, November 13, 2015

Shopping at the Philly Show

In the sweetness of friendship let there be laughter and sharing of pleasures. Khalil Gibran

I must say I do enjoy when other bloggers share their show findings and purchases, so thought I might try that out here. 

I attended the Philadelphia miniature show last weekend, (which is actually in New Jersey in a very tricky to get to hotel), just for the day on Saturday. In missing the preview I lost out on my most desired items. I won't mention them here because, well, I lost out. I will say there were only 2 dealers who I wanted to catch and those 2 were just about sold out by the time I got there. 

The show is not at all what it used to be, sadly. I suppose partially due to the economy and of course, the internet.  So many top drawer artisans missing. Lots of smaller scales available too. Not for me, but popular when you start running out of room, but for now, tables that I could skip. (Here is a better review of the show 
By Susan Grimshaw)

Anyway, to business. I came away with a lot less than I did back in the day, but as mentioned, missing artisans and the internet (which is now a juicy place to acquire miniatures, a gift horse, so to speak, if you will).

 Animals are such agreeable friends - they ask no questions; they pass no criticisms.

I cannot control myself when it comes to animals and it looks like I did it again in one form or another. 

I have a pug collection and could not resist this one by Sarah Hendry carried by Karon Cunningham

Pug by Sarah Hendry

 I found this little monkey and the tiny mice at Kathi Kuti .  Made by Kathi the monkey will go in my toy shop. He is just about 1.5 inches high. I also have a monkey collection. (I once raised a monkey for Helping Hands, an organization that trains and places monkey helpers for the disabled).  The mice are porcelain and can go anywhere and I do like mice. I also had some pet rats at one time. 

I had a really good look at Henny Staring-Egberts table and while she has some widely expensive pieces some are less than one hundred dollars and her work is exceptional. And I walked away with these gorgeous pieces and that tiny dog just .75 of an inch high. (yes, again with an animal)

I did also buy some inexpensive bits and pieces for future projects that need transformation of some sort. Birds and animals for repainting and some kits because I wanted to see how kits are made and packaged. Maybe I'll make some one of these days.

So if you attended the Philly show, what did you get?  Tell me below.

Monday, September 14, 2015

To Patricia Love William

"Anyone who has lost something they thought was theirs forever finally comes to realize that nothing really belongs to them"  - Paulo Coelho

I love this time of year when Fall approaches because I am more than happy to see hot, humid, sticky God-awful Summer begone for another year.  And I take joy in knowing the flies, ticks and mosquitos return to hell where they belong. But one insect that makes me happy to see is the spider. (I know). Big fat ones come around announcing that Autumn is on the way. So for me that's a 'yay'.

So, I had my 'pet' spider come around this year too, weaving a gorgeous web every night and putting himself right smack in the center.  Every morning both he and the web were gone and then every evening they'd be back again. Sweet and reassuring. (I know - the last thing you want is a spider bite, but my spider is out there catching all the hellish insects - and he's outside...)

Today he was gone. His beautiful web remains (still catching pesky gnats) . He might have been plucked out of his perch at dawn by a hungry bird. Maybe his time was up. Maybe it was a she and she went off to lay eggs and die like Charlotte. Who knows?

“It all goes away. Eventually, everything goes away.” - Elizabeth Gilbert

And so the point of this really is about miniatures. I recently acquired this gorgeous piece of miniature silver by Pete Acquisto. I found it taking my own advice. This very piece is a limited edition and at this very minute is listed on a website for $1400 and I got it for less than $100. Score, right?

Here is the poignant part, its engraved "To Patricia Love William". My namesake no longer has it and it ended up with a seller other than her. Did she give up miniatures? Did she move on to another collection of say, stamps? Did she leave this world? Did she lose the fact that she loved miniatures along with other losses?

This brings to mind several of the serious collectors and well known miniaturists whose miniatures were recently auctioned off. Adell Venus comes to mind since that one caused a lot of chatter. Other famous collectors: Flora Gill Jacobs, Mary Kaliski, Vivian Green who owned a dollhouse museum in England. And the rest of us no one knew.

Sad to think about. Endings. 

Treasure your loved ones, enjoy your miniatures. Take them out of the boxes and let them entertain you. Cherish the feeling they invoke. Remember the thrill you had when you found them or made them.

I'm thinking my spider's name was William. 
To William Love Patricia 

What do you think? About spiders? Endings? Treasures of any kind?

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Step by Step.

 "There is no one giant step that does it, it's a lot of little steps". Peter A. Cohen

I have never done a work in progress like you see on blogs a lot. Step by painful step.
But might as well do one for the record.

This is a Trompe L'oeil called Le Pate after Jean Baptiste Oudry. I had done this one years and years ago but this was a request so did it again. Have to admit I have not painted in a few years so, something different. Keeps the old brain from getting tics, hopefully...

This one below was done long ago and I found it  on Google. Not the best lighting. For sure, it was not that yellow. I would love to see them side by side. See how close I came each time...

Let me know what you think. 
AND I would love for you to sign up for my NEWSLETTER - don't worry, I won't bombard your inbox. I am about as good at newsletters as I am at blogging. But...I have surprises up my sleeve so I would not want you to miss anything.

Mini Love,

Thursday, March 12, 2015

TEN Tips for Finding the BEST Miniatures in Your Pajamas. (and at a bargain)

I have the simplest tastes. I am always satisfied with the best. Oscar Wilde

You don't need the expense of traveling to miniature shows when the very best miniatures are no farther than your keyboard. We all came to earth with gifts and one of mine I know for sure is that I can find the best things in just about anyplace. And I know who has what gift. So when it comes to miniatures I am pretty good at ferreting out great stuff. To add to my own collection. And here are some tips to help you find treasures of your own:

1) Don't Overlook Ebay.
There are wonderful artisan miniatures available there every day often going for way below original cost. Check under 'Artist Offerings" in Dollhouse Miniatures (under Dolls and Bears). But don't neglect the larger category because many things there are not followed by most.

2) Check out the Artisan.
If you see something on a popular miniature website and are not thrilled with the prices, go directly to the artisan (Google) You may well get the better price. Plus you can find wonderful things from artisans who might not be dealers at the shows you attend.

3) Auctions.
For years I thought I would never be able to afford the wonderful miniatures that were coming up for auction. I did not even know how to sort out bidding on those auctions. So, sadly, I passed up bidding. Eventually when an auction got to be too tempting, I jumped in.  While things are usually sold in lots and you might be interested in only one item, charge in and get the lot. You can later sell off the unwanted bits and in the end come out ahead with your prized item costing nothing.

4) ETSY.
While I find ETSY to have a lot of miniatures less than top, artisan quality (lots of decal-ed plates and crockery, computer printed books, paper watering cans etc), there are quality pieces there, you just have to look.  As new artisans emerge with wonderful things you can score amazing miniatures for great prices. These artisans eventually move on for some reason, often showing up on eBay where there is great competition for their work. Strike while the iron is hot. (And hey, nothing wrong with decals and computer printed stuff, I use and make it myself,  but that stuff will not bulk up the pocketbooks of your heirs)

This is a Yahoo group consisting of over 1800 members at the time of this writing. Its a great place to share anything about miniatures and ask for help with your projects or locating a item. Lots of help from many well informed artisans and collectors. When one finds something fabulous it gets shared and you can find great deals and great artisans by word of mouth. I believe it to be the ultimate miniature online group. Join HERE.

6) Facebook. 
While not for everyone because I have heard that joining scares some people into believing their information might be shared, its still one of the biggest if not the biggest social media sites. There are many miniature groups there and you will find wonderfully talented artisans coming out of the woodwork from all over the world and many sell their work. I would start with IGMA: The International Guild of Miniature Artisans.Go HERE.

7) Pinterest.

Another social media venue full and I mean FULL of miniature eye candy. Again, you can find wonderful creators of minis there and many do sell their work. You can also leave a message asking to place an order.

8) Blogs.
Yes, there are millions of blogs these days. Just another sign of the times that the internet is where it's at. It can happen this way; you find something on Pinterest that links to a blog. That blog lists favorite blogs they happen to follow - miniature related, of course, and you can scroll through several at a sitting, see what the owner is doing and how they do it. Many show step by step photos of their own personal projects. But in and among this information is reference to items they collected and where to find the artisan.

9) Show schedules with dealer links.
Whether you go to shows or not, you can always visit the show's website. There posted are dealers for upcoming shows with links directly to the artisans. Click around and you will find something to please you in your budget directly from the artisan. Since you saved a pile of money not traveling to the show, spend away.

10) And last but not least THE IGMA Fine Miniatures Forum. This is an online forum of the very finest miniatures but anyone is welcome to view and post their work. You need not be a member to participate. But once there, you may well be inclined to be part of a group promoting miniatures as an art form. Which indeed they are. Check it out.

Did I miss anything? Found anything wonderful yourself off the beaten path? 
Tell all below.