06 October 2022
Sadie Brown talks to Pat Benedict about her incredible miniature people! A visual storyteller with a lifelong love of Halloween and known for an exceptional range of dolls, Pat’s finely crafted miniatures see the worlds of magic and ghostly apparition collide in 1/12th scale.
Above: Ghost with opera glasses
A ghost story
“We did have a ghost in our home for about 2 years,” recalls Pat Benedict, discussing her part in a real-life ghost story when asked if she has ever encountered a visitor from beyond the grave. “The former owner passed in our home and you could feel his presence, light would just shut off and there were cold drafts.
The thing that was so unusual is the ghosts name was the same as our oldest son’s imaginary friend when he was three years old. Our ghost was more a protector of us, he never scared us. One day his sister came over to give us something that belonged to the house, and he must have left with her because we never felt his presence again.”
Norman and Mildred Boring
A visual storyteller with a lifelong love of Halloween and known for an exceptional range of dolls, Pat’s finely crafted miniatures see the worlds of magic and ghostly apparition collide in 1/12th scale. She says creativity was always an area in which she excelled in as a child, but it was whilst selling her 12” witches on a popular auction site that Pat found herself bitten by the miniatures bug, when Patricia Paul, the miniaturist behind many a magical and spooky creation got in touch. Patricia floated an exciting new challenge for Pat, suggesting she turn her skills to the enduring magic of 1/12th scale. The rest, as they say, is history! “Miniaturist, Linda Sullivan bought my first piece in 2003 and she still collects my creepy creations.”
What’s lurking behind the curtain?
The power of expression
The expressive nature of the human face provides an endless tapestry of inspiration for Pat, who takes great joy in the fact that her original ideas have sparked creativity in fellow miniaturists, who have been inspired to build an entire scene set around a piece of her work. The sharp definition seen in each doll, all of which are beautifully hand sculpted in polymer clay is exceptional, and nowhere is this reflected more keenly than in the delicately hand painted pale blue eyes of her ghostly figures. These may be ghosts, but they are also faces with memories etched upon them. One figure is seen holding a pair of opera glasses as she appears to stare straight into the soul of the onlooker. A special commission destined for a miniature haunted theatre, the piercing blue eyes really do send a shiver down your spine. “I hand paint all my dolls eyes,” explains Pat. “I use a very small ball point tool and I also study eyes. I love adding a little yellow and red. The eyes are the heart of my pieces, they set the mood.”
Quiet contemplation. A witch sits talking to her Familiar.
Mood is something which spans a broad range throughout Pat’s work, every doll or scene with its own tale to tell. One minute you’re staring into the eyes of a tearful ghost, and the next you’re immersed in the fun as three witches cast a spell over a card game or entering the chaotic world of four mischievous spirits as they cause chaos, playing hide and seek with the aid of an old cupboard. The latter is a delight, and Pat has put a great deal of thought in getting the contents of the cupboard just right. Filled with history as the spirits discover aged photographs, newspapers and books, there’s also a selection of old plates and vases, some of which already appear to have ended the game a little worse for wear! Special mention must also go to Pat’s green fingered witch, busy having pots of fun replanting her fabulous monster pod plants. “I incorporated real dried plants. I used wire and liquid sculpt for the plants tongue. I have so much fun using any type of material to achieve the look I want in my pieces.”
The fabric of creativity
Also adding to the mood of each piece are the beautiful vintage fabrics which Pat always tries to incorporate within her doll’s costumes wherever possible. “I love vintage fabric; I have a friend who collects really old clothing, 1800s, and if it’s too damaged she gives it to me. I use the lace and fabric in my creation’s outfits, it just adds to the haunted look.”
This witch is having pots of gardening fun
It isn’t just the 1/12th scale costumes adding to the excitement of Pat’s work. Her miniatures also introduce us to the concept of wearable art through pieces such as ‘Musical Symphony’, a top hat featuring a tuneful ghost playing a violin against the backdrop of a star studded night sky. “I like unusual fashion and started to create my pieces on eyeglasses, purses, jackets and hats. I really enjoyed the hats, so I create them for fundraisers within my community and special gifts for friends. It’s also a fun challenge for me and a different way to express and share the miniature world.”
Demonstrating the striking originality behind Pat’s designs, recent ideas have included a special 2020 Halloween ornament, making a nod to the toilet paper pandemonium as countries went into lockdown at the height of the Coronavirus Pandemic. However, the miniature cauldron of ideas is always bubbling with new projects. “I try to visualize a haunted house and this week I’m working on a crying ghost,” says Pat, looking at creating a range of ghostly figures who each appear to be making those eerie sounds associated with haunted or abandoned houses. “It’ll be a fun challenge to sculpt the faces!”
The magic of All Hallows Eve
A love of all things haunted also factors into other areas of Pat’s life outside her work in small scale, and she has fond memories of the fun had in creating childhood Halloween costumes for her three now grown up children. “I still decorate for Halloween and dress up for parties and events, but sadly our neighbourhood doesn’t have any trick or treaters,” she says. “This past Christmas my husband and I dressed up as Krampus for our downtown Krampus parade. I also dressed up and told spooky stories downtown for Halloween. I have a Halloween theme flower garden; our front door is orange and black with a witch decoration year around. We’re always adding fun creepy little items to our home.”
The ultimate card trick!
With many Witching Hours now behind us in the almost seventeen years since Pat first shared her 1/12th scale designs with an audience now eager for every new piece of work, she remains vehemently keen to expand her knowledge of a craft she clearly adores. Pat believes there is still much for her to learn and discover, something to which we can all attest in a miniatures world where something new is waiting to haunt an ever-burgeoning collection of potential projects. “Keep growing, learning and enjoying what you create, it’s part of you and that is unique,” she shares. “Some of my favourite pieces did not sell or sold for very little, your creativity can not be judged by monetary value! Create from your heart, it’s the process of creating that is the true joy of bringing something to life!” Wonderful advice which should see us all become miniaturist magicians this Halloween.
A little scared of attempting to create people? Follow this tutorial to create a miniature broom and witch hat to give the impression the scene is inhabited by a witch!
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