My love of making miniatures was initially sparked into life when I was 8 years old.
In the famous Hamleys - the World's Finest Toy Shop, Regent St. London, England.
I was gifted a second hand dollhouse and at Christmas my sister and I would be taken to Hamleys to visit "Father Christmas" and to make a list of toys we hoped he would bring us if we were well behaved.
Our parents would secretly purchase an item or two to be wrapped for Christmas for us.
I would mooch off from the dolls and prams section my parents and sister lingered in hoping I would be swayed to choose a twin dolls pram so my sister and I could play together; but thankfully I made my escape to the dollhouse department, where there seemed to me to be a magically charged atmosphere in that vast department where the rhythmic hum and clatter of the miniature railway running along its tracks high above our heads destined for imagined fantastical destinations . The sound of well trodden squeaking floor boards and the clatter of heels as customers meandered to and fro from the many spotlit dollhouses and numerous counters of fascinating accessories. The exclamations of delight from adults and children alike embedded themselves into the happy memory I retain of "another world of imagination" .
I distinctly remember a plaster lobster on a plate, (in those days most miniature food was made of Plaster of Paris) A blobby individual really, only vaguely resembling the crustacean by its enormous claws and unfortunate colour - a postbox red. Bread, cakes, and livid coloured fruits in baskets, but the pinnacle for me - were the dinners on plates. Mostly they consisted of brown slices (meat) surrounded by round cream balls (potatoes) and a splodge of uniform green stuff (cabbage) adorned with a watery brown paint (gravy). I was in heaven.
I tried to make my own miniature food at home but the plasticine colours were far too unrealistic. So I turned to real food. I hovered around my Great Aunt for scraps when she was cooking and cadged pieces of meat offcuts, vegetable trimmings and pastry scraps and made little shops out of old egg cartons. These would be general stores with produce wrapped in waxed paper or on tiny metal trays made of milk bottle lids or in tiny baskets made of glued hessian. There was the small matter of hygiene off course- especially as the meat would only last two days in the fridge and my then butcher's/grocery shop had to be destroyed! But it allowed me to study form and colours so I could then reproduce the miniature food accurately when I was older and could access modelling clay.
In my latter years as a parent, my Boys at differing stages of childhood requested food for their action men soldiers, or teddy bears. Their friends saw the food and their siblings wanted accessories for their dollhouses. The parents saw my miniature food and asked me to make commissions. I was approached by a dollhouse company in London Convent Garden to make miniature food for them and the rest is history.
I am now a grandmother, a pastel artist and a miniaturist, and ex-diamond expert (my real job/profession). My two grandchildren are my product testers and give me very practical and honest feedback, they have in the past, tried to eat a couple of air dry clay miniature donuts whilst hiding behind a curtain screen in their little play kitchen to test if the miniature food was real! The material was child safe but the evidence was a chalk like hue around the mouth.
A complement to realism and a distinct lesson on age appropriateness for me plus I now use polymer clay instead!
I utilise my own landscape paintings for backdrops or for views from windows/doors, and I enjoy painting illusions of stairways, scenery and halls to give another dimension to my work. Therefore each one of my dioramas are unique.
I truly believe children love detail, when they see a tiny replica of everyday life they examine it in detail and their joy and fascination is obvious by their faces. It sparks their own creative play and sometimes their own creativity to make models of their own.
So I have come full circle back to doing what fuels my own imagination to ignite the same in others.