Category: dioramas

dioramas at squam

diorama detail

If you visit here often you know that June was mostly a traveling and teaching month for me beginning with a diorama class at Squam. It’s a fun class to teach and I always learn a bunch too, in preparing as well as the class experience. There is always magic in that class. The magic in people who show up for it and experiment, magic in that forest, and always in that gathering.

play house gathering at squam

It continues to be one of my most favorite places.  Elizabeth Duvivier invented Squam and she invented me as a teacher.  She was willing to give it a shot so I was too. Teaching continues to change and expand me like nothing else. The students this spring experimented and stretched, were open and willing and supported each other, I loved being part of it.

charming assemblage figure

diorama detail - antique bottle with lichen

squam diorama figure

diorama detail

Gathering things for this class is an adventure and I love having permission to roam around and acquire lots of lovely old things to share. Things I feel some spirit in. And there is also so much to find in that giant oak forest.  After class I like to wander around and look for the intersection of real and make believe that intrigues me so much.

tiny rag doll in the forest

a little hand stitched toadstool in a big forest

P S – I’ll be back at Squam this fall and I’m in the planning stages for 2019 workshops now and will be headed South for the first time. I’m rolling ideas around for that – what would you like Southern friends?

making small worlds

miniature flagstone fireplace

Where do you lose yourself? For me it is often in tiny worlds. I pay attention when time disappears. I think it means a deeper connection is happening. Something is flowing and I’m letting it, I’ve achieved real presence and there is no struggle or distraction, nothing else tugs at me. I unclench. Unclenched is a good place to be.

ant world

Last year I created a tiny world inhabited by ants, ants with a taste for mid century furniture. I lost myself completely in the process in the very best way. It woke me up early and kept me up late. I was enchanted and mesmerized by the world as it took shape and deeply engaged in the craft, the process of creating it.

miniature flagstone fireplace

The centerpiece was a fireplace made from cardboard and foam core. I cut flagstone shapes from chipboard and glued them to the structure. The whole thing was covered with spackle (3m – patch plus primer is a great one) sanded, and painted.

cardboard flagstone

dusting : fortuny ants

The furniture was a trial and error process with help from this website, there are lots of good tutorials and techniques for building miniature furniture mostly from cardboard. I made the credenza above from cardboard, coffee stirrers, balsa wood and chopsticks.

I love exploring little worlds and objects I did not create too, bumping into them in the big world. I came across this miniature village in the back of a huge antique place upstate.

miniature village

Something about mini speaks to me and always has, especially everyday things presented in detail at a small scale, even more so when it is a working thing like this little oil lamp.

miss petunia's lazy day

tiny underthings

There are other small worlds for me to create and it is one of the things I’m focusing on this year. Something I think a lot about but have not made time for. I want to explore and articulate the world the tiny ragdolls inhabit and follow Mr. Socks up the crooked road to Woebegone Pines and the big black house where the whole Socks family has lived for many generations of mischievous cats.

mr. socks takes a stroll

a miniature world, inhabited by stylish ants

dusting : fortuny ants

dusting : fortuny ants

Meet the Beaumonts, fifth avenue’s most stylish anthropods.

To celebrate Fortuny’s 2016  Micromondo collection (which means micro–world in Italian) I created a miniature world of cosmopolitan, domestic bliss inhabited by sophisticated ants with a taste for midcentury furniture and modern art. They also really love christmas – that’s part 2.

ant world

ant world

ant world

ant world

The ants are 6 inches tall and made from the Micromondo collection.  I made furniture, drapery etc. – everything a fully appointed ant penthouse needs – from the new wools, velvets and linens as well as many of the classic patterns – the blue and bronze above is one of my favorites. I also made ant art – I got super into the art making – and family portraits – lots of tiny details.

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miniature poinsettias – a preview of something new

mini paper poinsettias

Miniature fascinates me – we’ve talked about it before. It fascinates and delights me – takes me to that marvelous creative place where time and self-consciousness completely disappear – I can lose myself for hours and hours. I began to create a very particular miniature world, with very particular inhabitants more than a year ago and I can finally show it to you next week. It’s been one of my most favorite projects of all time.

Just lately that little world got ready for the holidays – and of course it needed poinsettias, pink and white poinsettias.

mini paper poinsettias

mini poinsettia

They are made from crepe paper  – I painted it just the right shade of pink. Tip – adding water and rubbing alcohol to acrylic paint makes it penetrate crepe paper much better – you can get clear, bright and translucent color.

There are a couple previews of the recently festivised version of the project below and more to come next week.

mini poinsettia

miniature fortuny shopping bag

PS – The vinegar, citrus, clove cleaner I made is awesome – smells good – and works great. I’m pretty pleased.

PPS – The mr. socks pattern is imminent  – probably tomorrow – just finished up a couple last minute reshoots today – crammed into the one corner of my place where I can get some light on a rainy day.

mr. socks pattern shoot

suddenly a swan appeared

paper swan family yellow

Swans. They’ve been on my mind and while I was working out the steps for the flamingo kit a swan turned up.  And then another and another.  I love them. LOVE them – so I took a ton of photos.

paper swan

black paper swan

paper swan work

paper swan family yellow

Of course there is a black swan and babies too- a whole family. My first thought was cake toppers and they will be in the shop very soon – ready made and probably kits I think too (sign up here to be notified  when they are available).

floating paper swans

But there is something else – probably most important of all – they bring me back around to the place I always end up. I think that everything I make has a foot in story but I have not very often explored that as fully or intentionally as I would like to and maybe paper swans are something to experiment with,  a good place to play with the idea of illustrations – the setting of a tiny stage.

my big creative year : the magic of small

miniature donkey

miniature donkey

I am deeply interested in what happens when things get small. I always have been. Mini is intriguing. There is a lot of magic in smallness.

When the scale changes – our ideas and presumptions about lots of other things change. All sorts of fresh possibilities are revealed. It is an invitation to look harder at everything. Scotch tape dispensers can become a perfect glass display case for this melancholy little scene.  I get excited about that sort of thing.

hair hut diorama

 hair hut diorama

Of course this works in both directions but I’m much more attracted to small – I think in part because it is accessible, it can be approached in a personal and solitary way. For me that is part of the beauty of small. Big leaps of imagination are possible and mood and atmosphere can be fine-tuned  because the scale is manageable.

dioramaSo much of what I love to do has been about this kind of play – it has always been a deep drive and fascination for me. Even at it’s simplest I find it compelling.

terrarium

But why is it magic? I think because things can exist at an intersection of real and pretend by virtue of their unorthodox and unexpected size. There is instant mystery, instant story – what kind of world might this tiny thing be part of? You can see it and touch it and if you choose to, be nudged a little further down the road to make believe.

superchunk

I’m so out of the habit of sharing what all is going on over here – I blame Facebook – it has made me, or allowed me to be,  blog lazy and that is a mistake in lots of ways.  Way back in July , when it was very, very hot,  I had an extra fun project working on  a diorama for Superchunk’s new video for Me & You & Jackie Mittoo” a song from their brand new album ” I Hate Music”.

(click the image for a larger view)

The diorama is cut paper and features  photos of lots people holding records. From Mac McCaughan: “‘Me & You & Jackie Mittoo’ is a song about bonding over records, & the role music can play in your life & relationships. We asked friends, family and some of our favorite record stores to collect photographs of people holding an album that is meaningful to them in some way — not necessarily ‘favorite’ though we’re sure plenty of them are.

The photos are incredible and there are hundreds of them. I was surprised by how sweet  and touching they all are- they made me love people in general a little extra.

We shot the video in my tiny place in brooklyn on the hottest day of the year – lots of dudes and equipment.  It was directed by my brilliant friend Phil Morrison and shot by Mott Hupfel – it was a blast – so much fun.

You can watch the video below or here:

cardboard castle #2

I finished my second cardboard castle and it’s in the window at Johnson at 179 Orchard street. There are also some doug rhodehamel style mushrooms and a couple little creatures roaming around. I had lots of fun making it and it was good thinking exercise for my sometimes too buttoned up brain. I took some pictures of it here before we brought it over.

The back of the castle has some little holes you can peek into. I couldn’t really properly photograph what you see inside, there are ghosts at a ball in one,

an enchanted horse in another and miss havisham is held prisoner in a tower (her picture didn’t turn out at all).

The castle will be in the window at Johnson until October 31st . Unfortunately this is my last window for Johnson, Mrs. Johnson is closing at the end of the month. I’ll really miss doing her window. I started doing it for fun and it ended up changing my life in interesting and good ways, Thank you MJ.