Sunday, 22 July 2012

Readable Miniature Books by Ann Vanture

A Boxed Set of Beatrix Potter Books From Paper Minis

One of my 'good intentions' when making miniatures has been to have all  real, readable books in my mini museum and Edwardian dolls house. 
   Some of them I've bought ready-made, such as the beautiful open books I bought from Barbara Brear of South Africa. I wrote about them in one of the Guest Interviews on this blog.
  Other books I've made from kit sets. I have been very impressed with the kit set books I bought from Paper Minis. The colors were fresh, the pictures and text crisp, and the kits went together easily, as long as I took my time and folded pages carefully!
  I asked Ann Vanture of Paper Minis to tell me about them. 

W.  Where do you source the old books you make your miniature copies from?
 Ann.  I have a huge human scale book collection and I still have lots of books from my childhood. Many of my friends have books in their collection and they have allowed me to borrow these for miniaturizing. A few I have bought and downloaded. I make sure that the books I use are not still in copyright in this country. 
  What many people do not know is that many of the books are actually derivative works of mine. For examples, the Unicorn Tapestries, the Duc de Berry Book of Hours and the 21 Missions books were compiled and authored by me. Many of the books are abridged by me as well in order to fit the tiny format. That can be a difficult task, to be able to keep the story and style intact. Those itsy bitsy Beatrix Potter books are very difficult. By the way, I only publish Potter books whose characters are not trademarked.
    I think many miniaturists only concern themselves with copyright and should also familiarize themselves with trademarking. Where the boxed sets are concerned, I design the boxes myself and incorporate design elements found on and in the books the box houses.
    Every book is re-typeset in order for the collector to be able to read, albeit with a magnifier. Only my Uncle with perfect eyesight is able to read my books without help! And he is 83 years young.
    All artwork is cleaned and color enhanced to make these little jewels complete. Remember these are vintage and antique books and have lost much of their original scrumptious color over the years. Another hurdle is eliminating a child’s added “designs”, usually in crayon.
Mini Dolls House/Bookcase Kits
    Every book I sell either has a storage box or a laminated matching box sleeve, this keeps the books from flopping open when stored away. Some of my favorite designs are the tiny dollhouses kits I designed to double as mini bookcases.
   Thanks, Ann. It's interesting to find out how much work is involved in producing the kit set books.Your books now are in my Edwardian dolls house nursery and in the Rare Books room of my miniature museum. 

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Ann Vanture, Miniaturist, of Paper Minis

Samples of Paper Miniatures in Vintage Style Made by Ann
I was thrilled when Ann Vanture agreed to answer my questions about making miniatures from paper. Here are some insights into the inspiration behind her Paper Minis business.

W. What got you started in the miniatures hobby?
A.  My younger sister, Cordelia, is actually the force that got me started on Paper Minis. She has spent years populating a wonderful Victorian house our Father built for her as well as many room boxes. One day she showed me her latest dollhouse accessories purchase. I was impressed, but felt that the little kitchen groceries could be improved. Having worked as a graphic artist for many years, and with Cordelia's encouragement, I quickly became obsessed with creating the perfect 1:12 scale miniature. A task that took many years longer than I thought it would. The resulting Paper Minis' process is my special "secret recipe" -- 10 years to figure out how to bring out color, texture, crisp lines and readable typesetting at a scale 1/12th our human size! If you have been following Paper Minis over the years on-line (from the end of 2002), you know it has been an interesting journey.

W.  What is the most unusual or special miniature you own?
The Bavarian Miniatures From Ann's Childhood
A.  The most special miniature I own is my girlhood collection of furniture and accessories. The kitchen and bedroom sets came from the Bavarian Forest which we bought when I was about 7 in Germany while my father was stationed in France. The tin can curly-q furniture and the cast iron stove and accessories I bought with my own money while visiting the Ozark Mountains with my Grandparents who lived in Missouri, probably when I was  between 11 and 14 years of age. We would go camping each year on the White River in the Ozarks. My years in Europe and those camping trips were the highlights of my childhood. These items have been in storage during my adult years, and my grown daughter Cristen and I hope to make a house for the furniture in the near future.
W.  Which part of your Paper Minis business do you enjoy doing the most –  for example: dreaming up an idea, creating a prototype, dealing with customers?
A.  The most enjoyable part of Paper Minis business is the inception (the grand day dream!) of a project and then gathering the design elements. Those design elements might be a derivative element, like using antique photos to cover puzzle blocks, or a design element might be a completely custom artwork. Building that first “draft” is like Christmas morning for me. I don’t get to do that much anymore because of all the administrative tasks required for running a business (3 hours a day in email alone!), so I savor those few moments in a month when I get to be creative.           
A Range of Contemporary Miniatures from Paper Minis

 W.  Do you have a dolls house now? Can you tell us about it?
A.  I do not have a dollhouse, which has surprised many. I get the impression that when people visualize my home in their mind’s eye they see gingerbread inside and out with spiral starlight mints, gum drops and dollhouses on every surface in the house. Over the years I have made many boxes to stage Paper Minis for photos and those are kept in the studio. I am dull as dishwater when it comes to miniatures in my own house. But remember, my daughter and I will eventually have one to display!

Many thanks, Ann, for answering my questions. Let's hope you get your dolls house sooner rather than later!
In my next post, I'll have some information and examples of how Ann goes about making miniature books.


Wednesday, 11 July 2012

A Woodland Cottage in Miniature

A Woodland Cottage Made of Natural Materials
After I wrote about using plant materials to make miniatures, my friend Bruce brought along his woodland cottage to minis club on Sunday. It's the perfect example of building using things from nature.
  The walls and roof are sheathed in slabs of bark, complete with clumps of lichen, and the stepping stones are slices of branches. He's used fake ferns and berries and ivy to landscape the cottage and give it that unique 'set in the forest' ambience.
  Thanks for the photo, Bruce. 

Saturday, 7 July 2012

A Miniaturist's Tool Kit

A Basic Tool Kit for Making Miniatures
Who would have thought that making miniatures would be so dangerous!
I'm always stabbing, slicing, gluing or pricking myself. So the one thing at the top of my list of items for my tool kit is a packet of sticking plasters! 
The most basic things you'll need in your tool kit are readily available and cost little. In fact, if you are keen on crafts, you'll probably have many of them already:

  • cutting mat
  • craft knife
  • scissors
  • steel ruler
  • mechanical pencil (for making accurate marks when measuring)
  • toothpicks
  • paint brushes
  • glues
  • sandpapers/emery board
  • clamps/clothes pegs
  • masking tape & double sided tape
  • mitre box and saw
  • tweezers
  • needle nosed pliers
With these things you'll be able to make a whole range of mini items without needing to use power tools.
  Oh, and one other essential. A towel to wipe your hands and mop up the blood!

Monday, 2 July 2012

Making an Auhagen N Scale Kitset

An Auhagen N Scale Kit
I hadn't made one of this brand of N scale kitsets before, and on opening the box, was slightly overwhelmed by the plethora of 'bits' inside. There seemed to be millions of them! But the pictorial instructions were clear, the plastic pieces were well-marked, and there was a diagram of all the numbered shapes as well. It was really just a matter of sorting things out and getting stuck in!
  I started with the two little structures - the garage and shed. These went together easily so I was more confident then about tackling the bigger, more intricate, buildings. 
  The half-timbered effect is achieved by slotting the thin brown fretwork into the grooves on the white walls. It was really easy to get a good fit. The finished pieces look just like the pictures on the box.
  Now I'm looking forward to landscaping them to make a farmyard to go on the outskirts of my N scale village. For something in such a small scale, it seems to be spreading by the day and getting awfully big!