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Monday, April 12, 2010

Miniatures are not just for playing! They can provide inspiration too!

Recently I had the good fortune to help with a miniature show in my hometown and came away just wishing I had the time to craft a miniature version of each of the three books I’ve had published. I could just envision the lighthouse and cliffs of The Angel and the Outlaw and the windswept plains of Texas with The Rebel and the Lady. But then—I’d be busy playing with miniatures instead of writing!

The women and men that work with miniatures go to great lengths to create scenes that are historically accurate--with the furniture, rugs, and pictures of the era, unless of course, they are creating a fanciful scene such as mermaids in Atlantis. Here is the house of the Seven Dwarves from the opened back




And Merlins' Lair...complete with a suit of armour and a crystal ball.

How does this relate to writing? Well, by seeing a visual of the world I am writing about, I start thinking up more scenes and ideas. So I guess you could say it stimulates me creatively.



The majority of miniaturists work with 1-inch scale which means 1 inch equals one foot in real life. A very few work with 1/2 inch scale. The two houses to the left are Debbie Young's collection. She works with 1/4 inch scale where 1/4 inch equals a foot in real life.



Herta Forster grew up in Darmstadt
Germany to a family of artists. In 1944
her parent's house was bombed by the
Allies. After moving to the United States,
she lovelingly built a miniature replica of
the home she left behind, complete with the furniture as she remembered it.



Since I write westerns, the last two pictures are of a western dance hall. This was complete with a large bar and a dance hall girl. Oh-la-la!



What types of things do you do in your "free time" that help stimulate your creativity? Do your hobbies ~ cooking, knitting, etc have a place in your writing?

29 comments:

Cynthia Owens said...

Kathryn, what a lovely post. It's amazing to see the intricate details of these miniatures! I wish I'd had something like that when I was creating the village of Ballycashel for my first two novels!

It also reminded me of paper dolls. For one of my stories, the hero's daughter collects paper dolls (it also enabled me to bring in an artist friend of the hero's), and I did a lot of fascinating research into paper dolls. I was a big fan of paper dolls myself as a child - much more fun than Barbie! It was nice to acauire a set of them for research, as well as see what my Victorian hero and heroine - and his daughter! - would wear.

Nicole North said...

How neat! I can see how this would be very inspiring! That is very touching about the lady who created a miniature version of her destroyed home in Germany. One thing I do in my free time which has made appearances in my stories is gardening.

susan said...

I loved this article and it reminded me of my doll house I had many years ago. I love this and what beautiful work it is. susan L

I use alot of my time writing snail mail to pen pals I have had over 48 years now. This has been a big interest of mine..I love people and many of my pals are lonely ladies who looks forward to mail and a letter from a friend. Some of my pals are ones I have over 40 years and many letter between us. susan L.

Ann Lethbridge said...

Oh gosh, I justr love these houses. I am in awe of the talent and time these people have spent creating these pieces.

You are right, seeing things like this, accurately portrayed really does help envisage a setting.

Thanks for the interesting post.

Ann

Kathy said...

Wow, Kathryn, those miniatures are amazing! What a wonderful creative outlet for their creators. I knit and bead for inspiration, because both give me a chance to work out scenes in my head while my hands create. It's almost like a meditation for writing. Something about it really works for me.

I love to see all the wonderful passions people bring to the world. Very cool! Thanks for sharing those with us :o)

Paula said...

As a kid, I was OBSESSED by miniatures. Tiny little books that opened and had text inside. Tiny little pencils that actually wrote. Tiny little teapots that would actually pour water if you filled them. I found them all utterly fascinating. I was so awed by the crafters' ability to take something so very small and create a perfect replica in such exquisite detail.

I still like tiny things, although my house is entirely too cluttered as it is to allow myself to collect them.

Kathryn Albright said...

Thanks for stopping by Cynthia! I think creating an entire village would be so much fun. I know those who are competent on the computer can create such things, but for me, actually touching the windows and tables make it more fun. I remember your post about paper dolls. Yes--they are fun too.

Kathryn Albright said...

Nicole--thanks for commenting! Yes--I can imagine Herta's house was a work of love and helped her work through her feelings at the loss. I'm trying gardening for the first time this year. We are building the raised kind. Starting small...I've never had much of a green thumb. I know pulling weeds (something mindless) helps me mull over problems in my storylines.

Kathryn Albright said...

Susan ~ thanks for commenting! And what a lovely pastime! With the advent of the computer age, it seems the art of letter writing has gone by the wayside. I imagine your friends look forward to your letters.

Kathryn Albright said...

Hi Ann! Thanks for stopping by! The ladies I spoke with at the Miniature Convention were just delightful. They were so knowledgeable about what certain household items were called--which is such a necessity when writing a historical!

Kathryn Albright said...

Hi Kathy! Knitting and beading! I can see where that would free you to think about your writing. I have tried crochetting in the past, but the few times I've tried to knit, I ended up with holes through my project. It was more frustrating than anything. I've never tried beading, but I bet that would would be fun and creative.

Kathryn Albright said...

Hello Paula! Yep, miniatures truly are amazing. Speaking of miniature books--I was surprised to learn that there are actually miniature book conventions! Nothing but book--and with pages filled with the actual words! Don't ask me how the script gets so small!

Angi Morgan said...

Very interesting. I'd never thought about this before.

~~Angi

Susan Macatee said...

That is so cool!

In my spare time I used to do Civil War reenacting. That was a big help in bringing my Civil War romances to life.

Andrea I said...

I'm not creative and not a writer. I think minatures and the people who work with them are amazing. There is so much detail to them.



ainfinger@comcast.net

Denise O. said...

Hi Kathryn,

What a fun post, especially since I making one of the Debbie Young homes right now!

I recently read a book about the making of the Queen Mary dollhouse and its library of thousands of tiny little leather bound, hand tooled and gold leafed books all created by author's who were famous in 1920's. The home has been preserved in time giving an entirely accurate portrayal of what living as a Monarch just after the time of the first world war would have been like. And making ready about that time much more interesting and pertinent.

Denise L said...

Kathryn, wonderful post and awesome miniatures. I've been collecting miniatures for ages, so much so that the office is littered with little knights, ladies, castles, dragons and all the accruments that go along with them. There's nothing like being able to recreate a scene when stuck somewhere along the line. While I'll go so far as to make one of my heroine's gowns in Barbie doll size, I'm totally awed by the people who can actually create their own miniatures, especially in such detail.

Kathryn Albright said...

Thanks for posting Angi! I'm glad to have exposed you to something so different than usual for you.

Kathryn Albright said...

Hi Susan,
I hope to get to a Civil War reenactment this summer! I can see where you'd get all kinds of ideas from it! Great thought!

Kathryn Albright said...

Andrea -- thanks for stopping by. I agree with you in that the people I spoke with at the conference were all of the "creative" sort. They were fascinating to talk to and knew all kinds of interesting tidbits.

Kathryn Albright said...

Thanks for posting Denise! That sounds like an interesting book! I can't wait to see how your Debbie Young kit turns out! Take some before and after pictures along the way...

Kathryn Albright said...

Thanks for commenting Denise L. I could just see me making a miniature Hobbit House--I'm such a LOTR fan. Your collections sounds like a lot of fun.

Virginia said...

What a great post! I piece quilts sometimes when I am in the mood, lately I have been doing more reading!

lead[at]hotsheet[dot]com

Kathryn Albright said...

Hi Virginia! Nice to have you stopping by! I would love to have time for quilting. I particularly like the Americana-looking quilts and wall-hangings. It was fun to see the tiny miniature quilts in some of the houses. I also learned that the cigar companies in the 1900s would put miniature quilts and rugs in the boxes with their cigars. Kind of a freebee. They're worth $$ nowadays.

s7anna said...

Those are such awesome miniatures...I went to a miniature museum in Victoria, B.C. like 10/12 years ago and it's just soo freakin' cool to see. I'm a reader so it's not so much for inspiration as it is a source of entertainment that I like to research random things online. I also really want to try and learn how to cross-stitch cause it seems like something quite calming...I'm planning on picking up a kit and trying it out.

hugs,
Anna
s7anna@yahoo.ca

Kathryn Albright said...

Hi S7anna,

Thanks for stopping by! I do like to do counted crosstitch! It is so rewarding to see the finished piece. I encourage you to give it a try--there are so many lovely patterns out there. It is something you can put down and then pick back up after an interruption. Also--it helps me keep my weight down because I don't snack while I do it. wouldn't want to get the cloth dirty with spilled food! thanks for posting!

Sally said...

I find minatures send me into daydreaming. They are so intersting I begin to wonder who would live there and what would they do. Great place to start a story. The detail of minatures makes them a wonderful visual exhibit to enjoy.

Carol L. said...

Thank you for this post. How very talented these artists are. They are just beautiful reproductions in such minute scale. I truly enjoyed this post.
Carol L.
Lucky4750@aol.com

Lady Jane said...

I do miniatures and have the same red house with the porch which is a replica of the John Craig house in Cape May, NJ. I haven't put it together yet and seeing it here spurs me to do so after the 1st of the year. You are so lucky to be able to write. I am not good with words so I do minis and sew. Please visit me at http://fortheloveofminis.blogspot.com/ http://ourcozyabode.blogspot.com/ of minis o