my big creative year : the magic of small

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.


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.


  1. great to have you back. I really missed your reports from your creative year. I also liked always to play with small worlds. different worlds. now, as you made me think about it, I think that in a way it gives me the possibility to control (in a positive meaning) something as a whole. In the real world I never succeed…

    • Hi Tami,

      Thanks so much and I think that’s a good point – there is a sense of control and possibility – makes a good place to experiment.

  2. Ann,
    Oh how I just adore small and your blog post! I am still drawn to “small, little, teeny, tiny objects of all kinds. You are bringing small into a larger light. Show us more!

  3. Oh I love this post so much. The magic of wee things has never worn off for me, and I don’t think it ever will. It remains one of the deepest wells of imagination, and I visit it often. Thank you for sharing your beautiful little worlds with us.

    • Hi Amanda – its true! The predilection for mini is inescapable if you’ve got it!

  4. carol shannon

    I too have always loved the tiny little creations. Thank you so much for bringing that idea back to me. Love your ideas and all creative thoughts and for sharing.

  5. cynthia/omaha

    there is just something magical about teeny versions of big things. both of my sons worked at a grocery store as baggers. i cut part of a brown grocery bag with the ‘pinked’ edge and created a teeny grocery bag on which i wrote their store’s name just like the full-size bag. it was large enough to hold the cookie from their ‘if you give a mouse a cookie’ mouse toy. please continue to show us ‘small’. i love it. thank you.

  6. When I was a small child, my most favorite dolls were small “rubber dolls.” They were wee little pink babies that were from about 3/4″ to maybe 1″ tall. They were always close by, and could fit into the tiniest pocket. I had a terrible habit of nibbling on the tips of their tiny toes – the texture and density of the rubber, made them irresistible. Sort of like a pacifier for my 5-year-old self. I recently found three of my rubber dolls lying on a tiny circle of flannel in a tiny round transparent box. And, not surprisingly, the toes of one of them were nearly chewed off.

    • Great story Carolyn! I love it and I can so relate. And isn’t it wonderful to have the little rubber friends turn up so sweetly – resting all this time with their flannel.

  7. Great topic to explore! Your comment -‘things can exist at an intersection of real and pretend by virtue of their unorthodox and unexpected size.’ – is brilliant! Thanks for sharing.

  8. Wow, I see I am in good company. I’ve been fascinated by miniatures since forever. As an adult, people will ask me, “What’s with your the attraction to little versions of normal things?” But how could you not love tiny things and want to collect them? I think it’s one of those things that either you get it, or you don’t. I agree with what another commenter said about the smallness maybe providing a sense of control, along with the wonder; maybe even safety, as smallness is generally non-threatening. Maybe it’s the same with people’s fascination with tales of giants.

    I have to say — Carolyn Phillips’ comment above about the tiny rubber babies & nibbling at their tiny toes — hilarious! I used to do the exact same thing — so irresistible! I also could not resist a new, pink eraser, although they tasted awful.

    Thanks, Ann, for sharing your wonderful small world. Love it.

    • Thanks Suzanne – I was eraser chewer too – that texture…. I think the safety and control things are true. And giants yes – after I wrote this post I started exploring some fairytale and folklore stories of giants – interesting how powerful scale can be.

  9. Thank you, Ann, for this new dimension (miniature). Can’t wait to explore it with my grandchildren when they come for the holidays.
    You are a magic person
    With love

Comments are closed.