A great deal of artistry and hard work is expended by miniaturists to make their little worlds real. Of course they are always real in the mind of the builder – that goes without saying – but there is a driving urge to make the viewer see the realism as well.
This leads to ever more attention to detail, whether the little world is a motor car workshop or a Victorian parlour. There is always something that can be added. The makers of scale cars, aeroplanes, dollhouse furniture, etc. have long realised this and have taken to supplying food, tools, computers, packages, weapons, spare parts, and decorations for all the different scales. You can get lost in the contemplation of this as you look at the miniature.
Note: the ladies who do dollhouses hold a yearly exhibition that is well worth seeing. They have had the bright idea of putting the delicate and detailed miniatures and dioramas at a little distance behind a barrier to prevent damage from hands and then supplying small sets of binoculars as viewing aids so that you can go over the displays centimetre by centimetre. Good thinking!
Okay, here is where we leave Kansas, Toto. My Little Studio has always prided itself on the combination of real human figures with car scenes and now is going to start doing the same for historic scenes. If I was a competent model builder and miniaturist I could make detailed dioramas and structures for backdrops and then pose real people in them – alas my miniature building skills are rudimentary, and my purse not deep enough to afford the ultimate in detail that the real hobbyists do. Things would look fake.
And yet…and yet…there is a division of reality that is fake and everyone knows it…and applauds it. It is …the theatre. The theatre and the photo studio. In both these environments reality is truncated, reduced, suggested, and edited for effect. The solid wall of a house becomes a theatrical flat, and a stage set is comprised of many different elements butted up beside each other and nailed together. Joins can be visible and no-one feels bad. Architecture can be implausible, as long as it allows the actors to move well and produce the action for the audience. The audience is always in the front and frequently a little higher than the stage.
Conveniently, this is also the position that a still camera occupies on a miniature set.
So, I have taken stock of the 1:12 scale furniture that I already have, and purchased some more. I’ve scored big on 1/2 price 1:12 scale window frame and door kits and started painting them in suitable colours. I even have 1:12 scale hurdles and enough stairway to make a fake movable stage stairway. I am going to start cutting stage flats to accomodate these elements out of 6mm foam core board and covering it with the appropriate scale wallpaper or brick paper. I already have a medium sized 1:12 stage upon which these elements can be erected and taped together. Like a real theatre, once one production is finished, the flats, stage furniture, and props all go back into storage until needed for the next one. The joy of using 6mm foamcore board is that a 30 cm x 20 cm basic flat is light, cheap, and rigid, and can be faced on either side with a different finish.
First Hazel Leaf Theatre stage production will be ” The Duchess Of Dartmoor ” and I will start casting as soon as the sets are done. I think it can be completed in three sets; Milady’s boudoir, Milord’s study, and the garden. It is a romantic melodrama.
Remember that miniature theatrical producers are superstitious about opening nights. It is traditional to wish them ” Break a fingernail…”.
Heading Image: Goldfische Studio’s production set for The Pearl Of El Paso. A 3-d film set and detailed as the motion picture camera is unforgiving.