Modern miniature marvels: an interview with Sarah Jane (SJ) Holmes

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06 May 2021
We talk to SJ about when she discovered her love for miniatures, her contemporary furniture and homeware designs, how she goes about creating her work, her favourite project and lots more!

How long have you been making miniatures?

I first started dabbling in making small things about 18 months ago and started selling miniatures on Etsy in April 2020. I worked as a footwear designer for seven years, which taught me a lot about CAD, materials and product construction. I needed to move back to doing something more hands-on, as that's when I'm happiest. After being inspired by Instagram-worthy dolls houses, I took the plunge.

Sarah Jane (SJ) Holmes

SJ Holmes

I absolutely love making miniatures as it allows me to use a whole set of skills I've learned – the only limit is imagination.

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What got you first interested in making miniatures?

When I was about eight years old I made a miniature stage with lights and microphone stands out of cardboard and foil for my imaginary band. I’ve always found movie sets and stop motion animation fascinating, especially the 'sketch models' which are miniature versions of sets to use as design concepts. They’re so intricate (and cute!) – I could study them for hours. After stumbling upon an Instagram account for a modern dolls house I had a kind of ‘light bulb moment’ and have been hooked since.

What sort of miniatures do you make and why these in particular?

My favourite scale to work with is 1/12th scale, it’s small enough that everything looks adorable but not so small that details get lost. I make contemporary furniture and home accessories and try to create things that I’d ideally like in my real house. 

SJ Holmes miniature contemporary office

A dolls house feels like a really fun way to express creativity through interior design without the commitment of actually renovating a house.

Where do you get your inspiration from?

I get my inspiration from real-life interiors and social media platforms – there are so many wonderful ideas out there and I love to reimagine them on a small scale. Sometimes inspiration comes from a nice material or component and I go from there.

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SJ Holmes miniature contemporary creations

Tell us how you go about creating your work...

I normally start with a rough sketch for proof of concept and to work out the basic dimensions if it’s a piece of furniture, or draw up paper patterns if it’s textile based. I can then start the process of trial and error, tweaking and altering, until I’m happy with the desired outcome. I often start something and end up with ten different ideas for how I could finish it, so have to reign myself in a bit. If I’m making something more organic (for example, using polymer clay) I just dive straight in and try it out.

Do you have a favourite material to work with?

Picking a favourite is hard but that is exactly why I love making miniatures. One day I may prefer textiles so I'll make a rug, another I might create a tiny painting or build some furniture. Often it’s the combination of different materials that I find incredibly satisfying.

Do you have a favourite project?

I make tiny ornamental ‘geodes’ out of polymer clay. They’re my favourite because they’re just so fun, plus I can go wild with colour and glitter!

SJ Holmes miniature geodes

Where do you make your miniatures? Do you have a dedicated craft room?

The spare bedroom in our house is a dedicated craft room – this is where I do the majority of my work, although I have to do all my spray painting in the garden shed.

Do you have any top tips?

Be creative! I’ve found that a lot of things that you might consider to be household rubbish can be turned into other things – for example, toothpaste lids make excellent miniature plant pots!

SJ Holmes miniature deco shelf

What do you do with the miniatures you make?

I sell the majority of items I make through my Etsy shop. Some items I’ve found to be far too time consuming to sell, so keep those for any mini photoshoots I might be doing.

For more modern miniature inspiration, be sure to check out our interview with Marloes Oliedam of Ollie’s Dollhouse all about her Scandi-style miniatures. Or go ‘magical’ and meet Gemma Harris of Little Folk and her miniature fantasy lands.

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