Miniatures: The Biggest Little Industry on Earth
By Janit Calvo
(From April 5, 2009)
I’ve been participating at the Seattle Miniature Show for over 5 years now – first exhibiting, then vending and exhibiting. It’s always interesting to meet the different faces that make up this biannual show and, invariably, I always learn something new.
The Seattle Dollhouse Miniature Show has been going for decades and the current owner, Kristine Hill, has brought the show to the Seattle Center for the past 11 years. In doing so, she has attracted a wide variety of miniaturists to the show – some that have been in the business for well over 30 years. It is always interesting to talk to these dealers and you can bet that they have some interesting stories to tell too.
But there was one thing that lodged in my mind after the going to dinner with a couple of these gurus, something that we all know but needs some pointing out to see: Miniatures, as a group, is the biggest little industry in the world. Let me count the ways.
There are dolls of all sizes, dollhouses of all scales, model trains (indoor and out), Barbie and all her cohorts and copycats, GI Joe and his mimics, toy soldiers, Matchbox cars and the like… oh, I know I’m going to miss some. And all of these product lines have the clothes, accessories and furniture to go with the idea.
What happens when a movie, pop star or television program gets merchandised? They make a doll out of the main characters and the toy props to go with it.
What do filmmakers need to help bring the project in on budget? Model makers to recreate the scenes in miniature, to help fill in the long shots and expansive scene shots. Tim Burton’s latest movie was done in miniature, Coraline, it was made in 1/6 scale which is pretty close to the Barbie scale, and right on the GI Joe scale.
Architects and generals have used miniatures to design their buildings and plan their war strategies for centuries. Chess is made up of miniature figures.
Artists and designers of all types often use a maquette to troubleshoot the project before making it in the life size – clothes, scenes, products, displays, installations and sculptures. It is interesting to note that some artists only sculpt small in clay or foam – it’s the foundry that recreates it in a huge scale for the outdoors.
Jewelry, games, computers, cars, and mini bikes … I could go on but you get the gist.
Who would have thought that we are all miniature lovers? You can have it all in small…