Miniatura’s Little Peep into the Future
Photos by Rob Tysall.
The UK’s top dolls house show is hoping their Autumn Show will be a huge success, Ann Evans reports.
Like so many shows and exhibitions this year, the postponement of the Spring Miniatura Show until 2021 due to the Coronavirus outbreak came as a huge disappointment to everyone – organisers, exhibitors and visitors alike.
So many discerning people are enjoying the hobby of dolls house miniatures. Many have their own dolls houses in 1/12th scale right down to 1/48th and even smaller which they pride themselves on decorating and bringing them to life with furnishings, paintings, ornaments, lighting, foodstuffs – everything in fact that you’d find in a full size house, shop, café or bistro.
For many people it’s more than a hobby. For many it’s their livelihood. All over the world there are thousands of incredibly skilled craftspeople who have turned their pastime into a small business. Artisans are working in all fields with all manner of materials from brass, copper and wood to porcelain, silk and clay, and everything in between.
Many miniaturists sell through their websites or on internet platforms such as Etsy, but they also exhibit at dolls house shows. So, this year with the Coronavirus putting paid to all public shows and events it has impacted on everyone – buyers and sellers, and those who just like to browse.
The UK’s top dolls house show, Miniatura, is run by Andy Hopwood whose parents Bob and Muriel founded the business in 1983 and are still very much a part of the operation. Its twice-yearly shows bring together the very best in dolls house miniatures and their makers. With the postponement until 20 – 21 March 2021 Andy organised a virtual spring exhibition which can be found on the website. There’s also a brand-new facility, Miniatura On Line.
“This list features craftspeople involved in the miniatures and modelling hobbies,” said Andy. “Many will be exhibitors at one of our shows, but this list also includes other makers too. 2020 has highlighted just how useful the internet can be to keep us together even when we have to keep apart and it has motivated us to make our usual listings more comprehensive.”
Meanwhile, however, for many of the craftspeople, the lockdown period has seen them becoming more in demand than ever. Sonia Bethwaite of Little Miss Miniature who makes micro houses, furniture and characters sometimes scaled down to as small as 1/288th where a furnished house will sit on your finger, had this to say. “For the first two weeks of lockdown I did not know what to do with myself, it was really weird. I work from home anyway, so my routine hadn’t really changed but it all felt really weird. I make kits and they went a bit crazy. A lot of people want them for their own sanity, wanting to create something and keep themselves mentally active and this has kept me very busy.”
Jenny and Mike Kelm of Kastle Kelm Miniatures make fantasy characters and steampunk type rooms, with Mike also working in the film industry – which also came to a halt with the Covid19 outbreak. Jenny said, “Miniatures have never been so important to us as they are now. The Miniatures world is a great place to escape what’s been happening in the ‘real’ world. The lockdown has also meant people are looking on the internet for items and we have had a lot of new customers from around the world that have been buying our creations from our Etsy shop. During lockdown people want something to take their mind off it all. That’s been great for our sales, so we’ll continue to keep happy and carry on – and hope everyone is staying safe and enjoying their hobbies.”
Melissa Chapel of Saint Paul in the far North of the United States said, “I recreate everyday faery tales trying to capture those ineffable moments of enchantment when that wall between fantasy and perceived reality is translucent. Corona Virus has turned the everyday world around us into the very stuff of dark fantasy where nothing seems totally real and creating art becomes a way of coping when the nightmare seems to envelope you. Creating a bit of life in miniature is one way of preserving a moment where everything is perfect even for just one enchanted moment and where we hold fear at bay.”
For those hoping to attend the Autumn Miniatura Show, it’s worth knowing that the event also brings together Dolls House Clubs and other related associations and societies, many of whom run workshops, providing opportunities to learn a new skill. For example,
the Miniature Needlework Society, the British Polymer Clay Guild, Queen Elizabeth Dolls Houses, W.A.D.D.H.A.M’s – The Wolverhampton And District Dolls House And Miniatures Club, Warley Model Railway Club and many more.
Also planned for the Autumn Show is Jon Trenchard and his incredible Hordle Castle. Inspired by National Trust properties he visited as a child, Jon started to dream up his 1/12th scale stately home when he was just 12 years of age. His father helped him build the walls of The Great Hall, and the project has continued to grow ever since. Hordle currently has a Great Hall, chapel, tapestry room, cellar, staircase, attic, and Turkish bathroom. Jon hopes eventually to add another 20 rooms and leave the property to the National Trust.
Whilst the Spring 2021 show will bring back all the exhibitors from this year’s postponed show which included Sean Valentine’s amazing interpretations of the Harry Potter universe in room box form.
If you’re a miniaturist who would like to be featured in ‘Miniatura on Line’ or to book a stand at the autumn show, get in touch with Andy Hopwood via the website.
Tickets for the Autumn Miniatura at the NAEC Stoneleigh on 26-27 September will go on sale in September, to ensure that the organisers have the most up to date information on the Coronavirus situation.
Further details: https://miniatura.co.uk/