making small worlds

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


  1. Debra (Kweenie) Reed-Prewitt

    I would really like to see the tiny rag doll world expanded with more makeables for her. I love making them and would like to make a wardrobe out of a kitchen match box for more clothes for her. I’ve been toying with the idea of making a traveling dollhouse out of a wooden cigar box for her, complete with built in things to scale. Then she would have a place to live and keep all her things.

  2. I love tiny worlds too. I’m in the process of turning one of my shelves into a 1941 mom and pop store in Hawaii. It started on a whim and took over a good portion of November. I can’t wait to see where your tiny dolls and Mr. Socks wind up.

  3. Yes, the tiny things with details! I love the mini tent mock-ups at the sporting good stores. Love!

  4. If you want a fun tree YouTube…. wooly tree, might work for your village.
    I appreciate your weekly ditties. All your works are lovely.
    Mini wonders — journey on!

  5. Thanks for posting the link to the miniature tutorials blog. Wow! What a treasure trove. I’ve spent the last couple of hours looking through it. I love working with paper and ending up with things that don’t look like paper.

  6. Wow!!! I have loved tiny worlds forever. I thought tiny creatures lived in our walls and I made little homes for sow bugs ( we called them litter bugs) when very young. Love this!

  7. Of course, I love all your tiny worlds, Ann, but those very hip mid-century modern ants are my favorite. And their furniture? To die for. I’ve been working on some small Joseph Cornell-inspired wooden/cardboard box assemblage pieces, making them into mini-galleries where I display tiny weavings, embroidered quilts, crochet, and macrame. So fun and the hours fly by. I know that feeling of total immersion you’re talking about. It’s the best. And thanks for the link to the miniature tutorials. Oh dear, I may never emerge from that site. Happy tiny creating!

    • Hi Carolyn, it sure is! Thought of you while I was writing it.

  8. I will be following on your heels, and am looking forward very much to seeing what you create on your journey. As a miniature toy maker, I completely identify with your love for small things!

  9. gosh that website is bliss Ann! thanks for the recommendation…

    another enjoyable read, thank you for these

    Best wishes, Claire

  10. Cindy Armstrong

    The big black house of the Socks family! The oldest house in my neighborhood is a big black farmhouse. Now my neighbors will forever be Kathy and D’agostino Socks. She is a chocolatier and he makes very fine sausages.

  11. I love the ants’ midcentury home SOOOO much! Thank you so much for sharing some of the secrets behind its creation!

  12. Catherine Wood Flavin

    It all began with the doll houses and the mini furniture that Aunt Rita made with us ….

  13. Susan Hebert


    I’m anxiously waiting to see where the tiny rag dolls live. I hope we will be able to recreate some of the items in her home, either through patterns or detailed suggestions.
    Mr. Ant’s chaise would be a great start with maybe a tiny rug, a spool table and a lamp.

    Thanks for all the great ideas and patterns.

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