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The Making of Miniatures

Tiny. Cute. Lifelike. And incredibly detailed.

These are just some words that come to mind when someone sees one of these miniatures. But shortly after admiring the realistic detail at such a small scale, they always ask, "But how did you make this?!"

I have always loved miniatures. When I was young, I would create tiny cookies and dishes for my dollhouse from clay.

When I walked through the gift shop in my town, I always made a beeline for the display of miniatures figurines.

I even started entering my little clay sculptures in the local arts and crafts show, gathering several awards.

As I grew as an artist, I branched out and tried just about any medium I could get my hands on. And although I love creating traditional paintings and drawings, miniatures and sculpting has always held a special place in my heart.

Through the years of learning and perfecting my technique, I have developed a process. I'm excited to show you just how I make these miniatures!

Without further ado, let's begin!

Step 1. Creating the frame

Every solid building has to have a sound frame. Same goes for sculptures. For this piece, I needed to create a beagle, standing up. To ensure that the piece will not break easily, I create a rough frame, using wire and aluminum foil.

The legs are my main concern, and what will need the most stability. The foil acts as a solid center and holds the wire legs in place.

Step 2. Sculpting the body

This is one of the most important parts in the process and determines how well your piece will turn out. It is crucial to get proportions correct in this step, and any detail you want to reflect in the final piece.

I take some white Sculpy clay and begin to form it around the frame, roughly blending as I go. (Sculpy is my go-to brand, but any other polymer clay that will bake in the oven will work too).

I continue to add clay in small bits until I am satisfied. Next, I use a small pointed tool to cut details into the body. I pay special attention to eyes, mouth and nose.

For something at this scale, I do not add a fur texture... this dog is a short hair breed, so it is not necessary and will be covered up in the last steps anyway.

Next, I bake the sculpture and let it cool!

Step 3. Markings

Before I add fur to the hardened sculpture, I need to roughly paint the markings of the dog in the places where I will be placing that color of fur. I use acrylic paints in a thin coat. This helps me in two ways:

1. I am able to keep track of where to put each color of fur. 2. If some of the body were to show through after applying the fur, it would be less noticeable since the same color paint is below.

Step 4. Fur

Here comes the messy part, but also my favorite part!

Taking a sharp pair of scissors and some wool roving, I snip the fibers into "flocking"powder (you can buy flocking powder online and in some stores - it is often used to add grass, snow, and other details to miniature scenery, such as train sets). Because of the types of animals I like to create, I prefer to cut the wool roving myself to get the fur texture just how I want it.

Once I have a small pile of each color that I will be using, I apply some tacky glue to my dried sculpture. I only place the glue on one section of color at a time, as I will apply the flocking colors separately.

Small tweezers help me to pick up a small amount of flocking and apply it directly to the glue.

I continue this process with each flocking color, waiting for each section to dry and ensuring that I did not miss any spots.

Final details are added once all of the fur is in place and dried. I will repaint over nose and eyes if need be, and finish them with a glossy clear coat. To add even more detail to the fur coat, I will often take some chalk pastels and dust a little bit of color where appropriate. I paint the collar, and add a rhinestone for a dog tag!

This beagle was part of a set of 4 - a commission I completed a month ago! Aren't they cute?

Want more posts showing my artwork in progress? Leave a comment and let me know what you think!

If you would like to see more of my OOAK miniatures, check out my Etsy store!

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