Get to know New Jersey-based artist, Melissa Piombo as she shares her colourful creations which include miniature vinyl records for a music-loving dolls house or miniature scene!
How long have you been making miniatures?
I’ve been making miniatures since I was around six years old. I can remember watching the channel Nickelodeon and in between shows they had this little character come on named Stick Stickly, who was really just a popsicle stick with eyes and a mouth, but they made this set for him that had a little desk and a little mug, like a miniature talk show host would have, and I remember being really into it. I think one of my first adventures into mini making was making my own version of Stick Stickly.
Since then, I’ve always been crafty and made mini things for school projects or just for fun, but I didn’t start making miniatures to sell until around 2016.
What got you first interested in making miniatures?
Aside from Stick Stickly, one of my earliest miniature memories is a small display my mum had. It was a wooden shelf shaped like a house with different cubbies in it and in each of them she had these mini items. There was a mini school desk with books, mini soaps, etc. It was one of my favourite things to look at because they looked so real but they were so small. She had bought most of them from a store near where we lived that was owned by a mother and son. Half was his camera shop and the other half was her mini shop.
When I was old enough, my mum brought me to the shop so I could start my own mini collection. The owner had a lot of dolls house furniture but I was always more interested in the miniatures she made by hand, which was a lot of little packaging and books – I guess my interests really never changed! Fast forward to several years later and I found out I was going to be an aunt to a new baby niece and decided I wanted to build her a dolls house. Unfortunately, that shop no longer existed so I decided I'd try to DIY as much of the dolls house as I could.
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What sort of miniatures do you make and why these in particular?
I really don’t have any sort of theme because I really just make what I want for myself, or things I can’t find elsewhere. I deal with a lot of client requests at my day job, so it’s always nice to be able to sit down and just make something I want for myself when I make my minis.
Where do you get your inspiration from?
This is a terrible answer but I really just get inspiration from looking around in real life to see what would look cute as a mini! Nostalgia from my own childhood and pop culture are also big contributors.
Tell us how you go about creating your work...
My work is fairly haphazard at first – it usually goes something like this… At a very random time I'll get an idea and I’ll know if it's a good one based on how quickly I want to start working on it. If I like the result of that initial prototype, then I’ll set to work doing some more planning on ways to improve it. It’s really fun for me to look around and find items with different intended uses to use for minimaking.
Do you have a favourite material to work with?
Hands down my favourite material is paper! It's relatively cheap, it’s accessible, it’s easy to work with and it can transform into literally anything with a bit of effort.
Where do you make your miniatures? Do you have a dedicated craft room?
In my dreams I have a dedicated studio space that can contain all my supplies (and mess) but in reality I do the majority of my making on a dining room table in my apartment!
Do you have a top tip?
I’m not sure that I do! Maybe just to invest in a good knife and a good ruler – they’ll get you pretty far!
What do you do with the miniatures you make?
I sell most of the minis I make in my Etsy shop. Any one-offs that I make are housed in my parent’s basement, living with the in-progress dolls house for my niece and two other houses I've yet to finish!
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Next, marvel at another miniature maker’s creation as Sarah Jane shares her modern miniatures.