Tourmaline .

Miniature Diorama Photographer

The Ugly Cupcake Muffinry & Cafe

I have some photos on display!

While I’ve shown my work previously, this is the first time I’ve had them in a cafe and I’m excited to see how it goes.

The Ugly Cupcake in Jacksonville Beach, FL had 5 photos from my Monochrome series up, as well as pieces from numerous other local artists.

Make sure you go check out the art and eat some good food. The weather’s been perfect for sitting on their balcony or beyond their front porch.

115 5th Ave S, Jacksonville Beach, FL 32250

Barbie’s 60th Anniversary

Mattel’s infamous Barbie doll celebrated her 60th anniversary on March 9, 2019. The National Museum of Toys and Miniatures even threw her a birthday bash. And of course Mattel celebrated as well.

Back in December I discovered mine and my sister’s 40th anniversary Barbie’s, we were gifted by my grandmother 20 years ago now, in my parent’s attic. We weren’t allowed to open them at the time, but after double checking their value ($28 on ebay) I brought mine home, freed her from her constraints and swore to give her the photo shoot she deserves.

Her 60th birthday felt like the perfect time.

That said, I didn’t get to that photo shoot until late March, but at least she could breathe some fresh air until then :P

So here’s what I’ve come up with so far.

Miniatures and Control

Over the course of multiple years, I wondered why we all love miniatures so much, why I was so enthralled by their magic. And throughout this time I read Susan Stewart’s ‘On Longing’ and a reactionary blog series to that book. And I fell somewhere in between. So I continued to pull information from all sources I could find pertaining to this topic and the above video and below transcript are the result. And finally I felt and still feel like the urge to pursue this topic has left me, the voracious inquiry is no longer, but hopefully this will help you in yours.

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I’m a miniature photographer, and all around miniature enthusiast. And as miniatures continue to have their time in the spotlight, I’ve found myself continuing to think about why. Why do we find miniature objects so engaging, so thrilling?

A couple years ago I found a miniature maker, Louise Krasniewicz’ 3 part blog series, written from 2015-2016 called ‘Miniature Manifesto’. In them she vehemently denies Susan Stewart’s take on the why miniature topic in her 1984 book titled ‘On Longing: Narratives of the Miniature, the Gigantic, the Souvenir, the Collection.’ Susan Stewart makes the claim that “The miniature offers a world clearly limited in space but frozen and thereby both particularized and generalized in time – particularized in that the miniature concentrates upon the single instance and not upon the abstract rule, but generalized in that that instance comes to transcend, to stand for, a spectrum of other instances.”  And in essence, believes miniatures are about us gaining control. Louise however says, in reference to Stewart, and I quote “Basically her problem is that she sees miniatures as a metaphor or symbol, or as metonymy, making them not important in and of themselves, but as demonstrations of some human anxiety or foible or unrelated action.”

To be perfectly honest, I’m not sure why Stewart is so highly regarded on this topic, aside from the fact that she’s one of very few who have published such insight into it. That said, and controversial opinion here, I think there’s some merit to her theory, but with that I also agree with Louise’ closing remarks “But more importantly, great miniatures are not an escape from the real world but a way to engage, confront, question, critique, or consider it.” I simply don’t see the theories as such separate creatures.

Let’s start with miniatures in film and TV as examples. Of course, taking a miniature, which is in essence symbolic and adding it to another symbolic art form, may distort this argument a bit, but give me a minute and I’ll take a step back into real world examples.  Spoilers ahead.

In the 2018 film Hereditary, the mother, Annie, a miniaturist, uses miniatures to work through her emotions. We see scenes of her ill mother, a preschool, her dead daughter. They are visceral and representative to the point of her destroying them because they cause too much pain.

Charlie, the daughter, also makes miniatures, in the form of whimsical dolls. And as Katie Blair points out in her article ‘Elements of Control,’ these dolls and miniature scenes also serve as metaphor for the lack of control their creators have of their real lives “their fates preordained by demonic forces.”

In the 2018 HBO series Sharp Objects based on the 2006 novel by Gillian Flynn, the youngest sister Amma, has a overly ornate dollhouse replica of her real home. She dotes on the dollhouse incessantly and won’t let anyone else touch it. It seems to be the only thing in her life she has any control over as her mother poisons her to keep her pliable. We later find out she’s finishing the ivory floor in her dollhouse from human teeth she murders for. Which further cements that she’s looking for control in every way she can.

In season 2, episode 10 of Hulu’s The Handmaid’s Tale, we get a brief glimpse, of Hannah’s dollhouse. Hannah has been stolen aware from June, the series’ main character and is being raised by new parents in this dystopian society. June has just gotten the chance to see and once again say goodbye to Hannah. After, left in the empty house alone she sees Hannah’s toys. And in a way these show an innocence in this very otherwise society.

With that, I think we can say that Hollywood sees miniatures as objects of both control and whimsy, and maybe even escape.

So now let’s delve into the real world.

When looking into reading Susan Stewarts On Longing, I often saw that Gaston Bachelard’s 1958 book ‘The Poetics of Space’ would be more worth my time, so I read the miniature portion of that as well. Bachelard says both “The cleverer I am at miniaturizing the world, the better I possess it. But in doing this, it must be understood that values become condensed and enriched in miniature.” and “…the tiny things we imagine simply take us back to childhood, to familiarity with toys and the reality of the toys…But the imagination deserves better than that. In point of fact, imagination in miniature is natural imagination which appears at all ages in the day dreams of born dreamers.” So okay, let’s simplify that to say he believes miniatures are nostalgic, whimsical and possession or control.

In Francis Glessner Lee’s Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death, she uses detailed miniatures as teaching tools, representational of real crime scenes.

Mark Hogancamp, as explored in the documentary Marwencol and the upcoming film Welcome to Marwen, uses toys as a form of self therapy – representations of himself and those around.

The Secret Life of the Lonely Doll by Jean Nathan, which explores the life and work of author and toy photographer Dare Wright, shows Dare’s work as again, self-portraiture in which she explores her lonely life through her doll.

Netflix’s The Toys that Made Us shows toys as a nostalgic, a form of escape from our every day lives, and as per the essence of toys whimsical/joyful objects.

So from those sources, we can glean that miniatures are iconographic, allow for self exploration and serve as an escape. All of which, when broken down, to say that these are things we can form ideas through and therefore possess, or control.

So, maybe utilizing and having an appreciation for miniatures is about control. But I don’t think that’s a bad thing. It doesn’t mean that we’re all desperately searching for control in our chaotic lives, but more that we’ve chosen a medium that is symbolic of the world around us, one we can fully mold to suit the ideas we have in our heads. But what are your thoughts?

There are so many more sources I could dive into, especially when it comes to why toy photographers choose the subjects they do. I’m sure there are more sources for why miniatures or toy makers do what they do too, but for now I’m going to keep this to the idea of miniatures as a whole. If you’d like a follow up on toy photography though, let me know in the comments!

Until next time…

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Sources and Further Reading:

Articles

Videos

Fiction Books

  • Sharp Objects, Gillian Flynn, 2006
  • The Miniaturist, Jessie Burton, 2014

Non-Fiction Books

Movies

  • Hereditary, 2018
  • Welcome to Marwen, 2018
  • Tiny Furniture, 2010
  • Gulliver’s Travels, 2010
  • The Miniaturist, 2018
  • The Indian in the Cupboard, 1995
  • Downsizing, 2017
  • Honey I Shrunk the Kids, 1989

TV Shows

  • Sharp Objects, HBO, 2018
  • Handmaid’s tale, Hulu, 2017 –
  • CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, The Miniature Serial Killer, Seasons 7 – 9 (Episodes 701, 702, 707, 710, 711, 716, 720, 724, 801, 907), 2006 – 2008

Documentaries

  • Marwencol, 2010
  • The Toys that Made Us, 2017 – 2018
  • Of Dolls & Murder, 2012

Blogs

Other

  • Puppet Fashion Show from British Pathé TV 1960. via the research of @chicojefferson, Juxtapoz Magazine, 2018, https://goo.gl/kZZt6F



Resin Beehive Necklace

I’ve finally returned to posting on Youtube. My first video back, is one I’ve been wanting to try for some time.

I have this silicone trivet for the kitchen with a behive pattern in it. – silicone, behive, I think that calls for a makeshift resin mold for a bee themed accessory.

So with that I took some 2 part epoxy resin, mixed in chunky glitter and alcohol ink, and poured it onto the trivet. After it cured I added a chain and bee charm and am really happy with the result.

Supplies (contains affiliate links):

Check out the video below and let me know your thoughts.

Ron’s Miniature Shop, Orlando, FL

Ron’s Miniature Shop went viral maybe 7 months ago now, with no online presence whatsoever. But with less and less shops like this existing, word of mouth gets them all the advertisement they need.

Ron’s Miniature Shop has been a staple of Orlando since 1989 and is still going strong.

I was in Lakeland for work and noticed that Ron’s Miniature Shop was going to be almost precisely on my way home to Jacksonville, so of course I had to stop by. And I wasn’t disappointed.

From artisan/collectible to mass produced, you can find absolutely everything you need for your 1:12, 1:24 or 1:48 dollhouses and fairy gardens. Furniture for every room – wood, plaster, etc, plastic and porcelain dolls, dollhouse kits and finishings, and every accessory you can imagine.

There’s a workshop in the back where you can see the staff working on various mini projects, and speaking of the staff, they’re beyond helpful and kind.

I got a couple things for photos, and a couple things I just couldn’t resist, and managed to make it out spending only about $45. Trust me, it could have been a lot worse. But you truly can find items that fit any budget, Accessories I picked up to look at ranged from $2 to $65.

They even have tiny mugs with names on them! I got one for my sister – currently on sale for $2.

Click on an image to see it larger/ in a carousel view.

Sweater and pants set – $11.50, Violin $12, Doll $3.50, Tiny Furniture (2 chairs and a table) $9.95, Mugs $2 each, Shoes $2.95

Have you been to Ron’s Miniature Shop or a similar store? Would you like to? Tell me a bout it in a comment below.

Ron’s Miniature Shop – 751 W. Colonial, Orlando, FL 32804

The Clearing

Iridescent Christmas village snow, Victorian style porcelain dollhouse dolls and decorative mantle deer and glitter trees. With these I aimed to make some dreamy forest scapes and I think I accomplished just that.

While I typically disassemble my temporary dioramas after I’ve achieved the desired photos, this one I’ve left in tact as I have another image or two planned with a new doll that should be shipping to me shortly. Stay tuned.

Vintage Polly Pocket Tour

I recently dug into my old 1990s Polly Pocket stash. They’re back in stores these days, albeit with a very different look, and it was time to sift through my own collection.

I’m definitely missing some of the figures or a building to go with certain figures etc. I matched up what I could however, of both my branded and off brand sets and then subjected some to a photo shoot.

Let me know what you think and if these bring back any nostalgia for you!

The sets:

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The Photos:

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I also bought a new style $5 set from a grocery store on a recent work trip. Not as cool I don’t think, but the tiny dog got me.

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1:12 Scale Dollhouse Clothing

I’ve been photographing my 5 inch tall Body Chan doll for some time. Her smooth, bare, plastic body was precisely what I wanted for the photos I envisioned with her. Her grey plastic nudity seemed to offend some poeple however and I got numerous messages about dressing her. I did not buy her any clothing.

However, now I have a new 1:12 scale doll in tow. She is detailed and has realistic features. While I do plan to take some nude photos of her, I do think she needs a small amount of clothing to draw from as well.

Hence, the voracious search for size appropriate clothing began, and I’m going to share that new found knowledge with you.

Wanting to buy in store? Well unless you have a dollhouse store around, which I do not, you’re not going to have a lot of luck.

Hobby Lobby has a dollhouse section where you can buy pre-dressed dolls to borrow the clothing from, Target has a line called Lori dolls which are chunky 1:12 scale dolls, clothing and accessories. Some of these pieces will work with more traditionally sized dollhouse dolls. Walmart has similar dolls, the smaller scale My Life dolls, but they do not have separately sold accessories. Occasionally you can also get away with Barbie’s little sister Kelly/Chelsea clothing and the clothing of off brand dolls of the same size.

Online is your better bet, but the options are still too limited for my liking and prices range from a couple dollars to hundreds.

The most common sense choice is a dollhouse retailer like miniatures.com or dollhouse heaven (with the latter having a better selection). These clothes are detailed and quite realistic, but be aware that some are only made for display and will not actually go on a doll.

AmiAmi, a Japanese, anime based online toy store sells a variety of clothing for Picco Nemo dolls. These dolls are ever so slightly shorter, wider and have much larger heads than traditional 1:12 scale dolls. Some of the clothing will work however, just choose sparingly – no hats, hoods, non stretch pants, etc.

Etsy of course has hand made selections ranging from the novice to artisan. Because of this prices can potentially run quite high, but you may find just what you’re looking for all the same.

You can also turn to online marketplaces like ebay, Amazon, Aliexpress and Wish.

Simply search ‘1/12 clothing’ or ‘1:12 clothes’ or something similar and you will get a good selection. Aliexpress has tons of listing for OB11 clothing. These dolls are also shorter, wider and have larger heads than traditional dollhouse dolls, but much of the clothes will work all the same. All of these marketplaces do have inconsistent listings, with not to scale items being tagged wrongly, so read carefully before purchasing.

And that’s all I have on the topic for now. I’ll let you in on the clothing I end up getting and the photos I take with it ASAP (I have way too many for potential purchase in my Aliexpress cart – if someone wants to sponsor a doll clothing review instead hit me up, lol).

Until then, let me know your thoughts and suggestions in a comment below!