30 January 2023
Discover how Gosia creates her miniature flowers from polymer clay, with advice on making the perfect miniature rose, in this interview with Sadie Brown.
With Valentine’s Day on the horizon, Gosia Suchodolska shares the secrets behind the art of miniature floristry.
Whether the scent of fresh flowers takes you back to that all-important romantic gesture, a proposal, your wedding day or just that special summers day, Gosia Suchodolska’s work immediately transports you there in exactly the same way. So real, her miniature flowers are each made using Fimo, something which she finds key to achieving the essential iridescent effect to each petal. “For the transparency it’s crucial to add quite a lot of translucent Fimo, especially when making light colours,” explains Gosia.
“Another important thing is the thinness of both the petals and the leaves. I use some baby powder to prevent the clay from sticking to my fingers when shaping them. The extra effect is that light colours become slightly pearly, which looks really nice after baking. With darker colours it isn’t such a great thing. The shade loses its depth after baking so it’s necessary to add it back with some diluted varnish and paints.”
The second thing Gosia credits with achieving that realistic appearance is quantity, adding that there is, unfortunately, no shortcut to perfection. “You must make a lot of petals for one flower. When I say a lot, I mean even 80 petals for very full roses. If you try to reduce the number, it always shows in close up photos.”
Gosia’s fascination with small scale began during the long summer holidays as a young school teacher, when she would attempt a variety of different crafts, including painting and sewing, but it was the world of miniatures which grabbed her attention. “In Poland, where I live, the hobby wasn’t very popular then. I know there were a lot of people making amazing things at home, but it was before the Internet so we simply didn’t know about each other,” she laments, going on to discuss her very first project, a miniature bed which she made entirely from scratch using 4mm ply wood, a piece which remains in her collection to this day. “That was such an addictive and satisfying experience that I immediately started working on a desk, a chair, etc.”
The birth of her children led Gosia to move away from her new found passion for a while, but it was as a stay-at-home mum that she discovered the CDHM forum. “I met people who had so much experience, knowledge and skill and at the same time were generously eager to share it all with newbies like myself. What a great experience! I’m still in touch with some of those fantastic ladies today. Some of them I even met in person at The Miniature Show in Chicago.”
It was following this meeting of minds that Gosia began working with Fimo, gradually gaining the skills that would lead to an award-winning miniatures career. “I will never forget meeting Angie Scarr in Arnhem, the Netherlands. She complimented my radishes. She said they were an original idea and it literally gave me wings,” she says. “Then I set up my Facebook account and started showing my work. That was a turning point in my life. Orders started coming in, I was published in magazines, interviewed online, invited onto television. I was slowly getting ready to spread those wings of mine and turn my hobby into a business. And then came the first trip to the USA, to The Miniature Show four years ago, where I won the first prize for my miniature still life with roses and raspberries.”
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Floating new ideas
Roses have now become synonymous with Gosia’s work, going on to define her work, whether they’re rose bushes in full bloom, a vase overflowing with colour or floating in a romantic bath. “The first bath was born from an inspirational photo I had been sent on Facebook.” She recalls. “It was a real thing, but I thought it might look good in miniature too.” After discussing the idea with friends, they were so thrilled by the idea that they managed to locate and send Gosia some beautiful and very special miniature bathtubs for her creations.
“All I needed to do was fill them with epoxy resin and decorate with roses,” she says, adding that she finds the mix of romantic and rustic styles incredibly appealing. Of course, no miniature project is ever as easy as simply turning on the tap, and even filling and decorating a miniature bath wasn’t immune to sinking on a few occasions! Gosia quickly learnt that thin Fimo petals can pose a problem when working with epoxy resin. “When you soak them in it, they become barely visible. So, for a more spectacular effect it’s better to glue them on to the surface after the resin is completely dry.”
Gosia will no doubt be the envy of the many miniaturists who follow her work on social media and beyond as she is aided in all her creative endeavours by an abundance of unusual tools, given to her by an extremely generous dentist. “The tools were all used and for some reasons deficient,” she explains. “But for me they are perfect. They are great for detailed work and I guess everlasting. I’ve had them for many years now and I don’t need any other tools really.”
The road to success
Gosia says that she really believes that if you are following your passion, there is no other possible end result other than becoming successful. “When you do what you like, you do it a lot. And you become better and better,” says Gosia. “And when you are good, sooner or later people will appreciate it.
It doesn’t matter if it’s miniatures, baking bread or teaching English. It works every time. I still work as a teacher at a private language centre as well as a freelancer for different companies and it takes ten hours of my working day. And there are times when I am torn between these two worlds, teaching and miniature making but usually I really appreciate that I have the luxury of enjoying the two. It doesn’t let me feel burnt out or bored with anything. When I’m tired of people, I make flowers. When I feel like being more social, I go and talk to my awesome students. Could it be any better? Oh yes, it could, I have daughters aged nine and twelve.”
Both work and family life certainly keep Gosia busy, and as we talk, she’s just completed a large order involving many of her beautiful roses, but she’s also about to start work on miniatures for her next dolls’ house show. “I’m planning roses mainly but also some herbs and cakes. I really like making layered cakes decorated with fruit and flowers.” She says.
Gosia’s talents extend well beyond the confines of the miniature garden and into the small-scale kitchen. In fact, she is often found combining these two areas of expertise, creating luxurious cakes filled with buttercream and decorated with fruits of the garden in every sense of the word. Blueberries, strawberries and English garden roses all feature prominently. Gosia is also an extremely capable photographer, she has a knack of capturing her miniatures in evocative realistic settings where the sun always seems to shine. More than that though, she ensures that we can all own a little piece of those magic summer days so reminiscent of The Garden of England in H.E. Bates, The Darling Buds of May, her work traversing the globe like a small piece of sunshine in a box!
Finally, as this is the Valentine’s Day issue of the magazine, I couldn’t resist asking Gosia what has been the most romantic thing anyone has ever done for her. “Hmmm,” she ponders thoughtfully. “I’ve been taken out to romantic dinners on hotel roofs, have sailed on a boat at night, walked along the beach at sunset. I have walked down the cathedral aisle in a white wedding gown. All beautiful moments but the most romantic thing was to hear from somebody ‘If you are ever weak and fall down, I’ll give you my hand’ For me this is the essence of what we want. It’s not about flowers, moonlight and hearts. It’s about being present for us.”
To see more of Gosia’s work visit her Etsy shop.
Been inspired? Why not follow this guide by Sadie Brown to make a 'delicious' miniature Valentine's cake using polymer clay.