Photos by Rob Tysall
Miniatura held its 75th show recently at the Birmingham NEC, Ann Evans brings us some stories from behind those incredible miniatures.
Miniatura, the big show for all thing miniature celebrated its 75th show over the weekend 19-20 March, bringing together top miniaturists and their incredible dolls house miniatures from all around the UK and beyond.
Whether visitors are into 1/12th scale – one inch to the foot, which is the usual dolls house scale, or the increasingly popular smaller scales of 1/24th and 1/48th – or even smaller micro minis, there was everything you could possibly want for your dolls house – and lots more you’d never even thought about.
Of course, you don’t need a dolls house, people create miniature scenes in all kinds of receptacles from room boxes to teacups, right down to acorn cups and seashells. And the houses you can buy or be inspired to make, show that when it comes to imagination, miniaturists know no bounds. You could find tree houses, dungeons, asylums, castles, stately homes, witch’s hovels, granddad’s work-sheds, ultra-modern barn conversions and sleepy cottages by the sea.
Items for your dolls house collection come ready built or in kit form – as do the furniture and accessories. There’s everything you need at this show from Stick & Go wall, floor and ceiling cladding to the delicately patterned fabric and trimming needed to suit the scale you’re working in. And best of all you have the enthusiasm of those selling these accessories to advise and help whether you’re a complete novice or a seasoned miniaturist.
Due to the Covid pandemic and lockdown, Miniatura had to cancel three of its shows through 2020 and 2021, but re-opened last autumn with a show at Stoneleigh. Now this event at the Birmingham NEC was a happy milestone as life starts to return to normal. For miniaturists however, the lockdown period meant even more work for them as people had more time to spend on their hobby. Many reported increased sales and a much higher demand, meaning that they were kept extra busy keeping up with that demand.
Additionally, lots of people took up the hobby or created a special lockdown project. Jon Trenchard for example, whose Hordle Castle hit the headlines due to the fact he started it when he was 12 and is still working on it 30 years later! Professional actor, Jon, created another room for Hordle Castle through lockdown. This was his Alchemist Chemist which he displayed along with the castle at the show.
Jon said, “The Alchemst Chemist is an experiment in the different techniques of making stone look real. I’ve used air drying clay, egg boxes and foam for the arches. It’s a celebration of different stoneworks.”
Exhibitors had come from all around the UK and beyond. Angela Kinnunen whose miniature business is named Raptoor is originally from Wales but currently living in Finland with her family. Her miniatures were certainly not ‘run of the mill’ and for anyone who has a dungeon or a medieval cell to enhance, she is the craftsperson to see.
Coming all the way from South Africa was Tiny Treasurers from Around the World. Miniaturist Hester van Niekerk is inspired to make her dolls house miniatures from people, traditional items and different cultures she comes across on her travels. Hester was planning to explore English waterways and a visit to Dublin before returning home to South Africa.
Emmy Chan and her husband Michael were exhibiting at Miniatura for the first time. They are originally from Hong Kong, but now live in Bristol. Emmy uses Japanese fabric for her cushions, upholstery and doll’s dresses. For her, this is just a hobby as she just loves sewing.
Some of the very best dolls house makers were drawing in the crowds such as Petite Properties, specialists in the smaller scales of 1/24, 1/48 and 1/144 houses and furniture kits. Their work is renown all over the world. Similarly, Robert Stubbs dolls houses who specialist in Tudor style houses, mansions, pubs, shops and tea rooms have earned an excellent reputation for quality of build and value for money over the last 35 years. Robert Stubbs houses can be found in practically every country in the world, and in a number of museums.
The dolls and characters that populate the dolls houses were of all styles from kings and queen to quirky cooks and comic gnomes, but one particularly poignant little bear had been made by Five Valley Bears. This poseable little bear was a Ukranian Bear and money from its sale will go to the Ukranian appeal.
Organiser, Andy Hopwood couldn’t have been happier in the way his show had gone. Andy commented, “It has been absolutely wonderful. The fact that people were so ready to jump right back in to miniatures again, it was as if that miniature magic was back. As an organiser I felt that everyone seemed more appreciative of everyone else’s efforts. If there was a complaint, it was a constructive one.
“You can’t ignore the fact that we had two years without a show. When Covid started in the Spring of 2020 that was the first Miniatura Show we’ve ever had to cancel and that was a bitter pill to swallow. But we made that decision back in 2020, and I really appreciate the feedback I’ve received from visitors and exhibitors saying that we have made a lot of good decisions.
“I really appreciate the support we’ve had from exhibitors and visitors over the last two years – that has been lovely. And this year I can’t tell you how fantastic it felt to say – the doors are open!”