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History Bones

BadAss Miniatures Juli Steel Twisted Copper Forest

I'm delighted to be in the BadAss Miniatures Show currently on exhibit until July 22 at D. Thomas Fine Miniatures.

My piece is entitled "A Violent and Colorful Death" and I wanted to give the backstory for it. The concept behind History Bones is to bring obscure, forgotten and fascinating bits of history back in memento mori styled dioramas.

BadAss Miniatures Juli Steel Twisted Copper Forest

In Victorian Era London, manufacturers were having no luck in creating a green dye that was colorfast. Carl Scheele created one, based in arsenic, that worked like a charm. The trouble with that was, of course, arsenic is poison. Only considered an "irritant" at the time, no precautions were taken for the employees who handled it all day, every day.

The dye was used in countless products like clothing, stockings, wallpaper, hats and artificial (silk) flowers. The products not only made the consumers sick, but were devastating to employees handling them on a daily basis.

The arsenic caused open sores and blisters, green fingernails, the whites of the eyes to turn green and green vomit. This was before hand-washing was a thing, so employees ate lunch as well as went to the bathroom with the dye all over their hands.

The death of 19-year old Matilda Scheurer in an "accidental" poisoning in 1861 finally brought enough attention to the matter for regulations to be made.

According to Becky Little's article in National Geographic (2016) "Killer Clothing was All the Rage in the 19th Century," the girl dusted the artificial leaves with green powder, inhaling arsenic with every breath and unknowingly ate it off her hands at each meal. The whites of her eyes turned green as did her fingernails. Matilda was said to have convulsed, vomited green bile and foamed at the mouth. She literally died "a violent and colorful death."

This piece illustrates a typical artificial flower-making workroom of the day. Any of these ladies could be Matilda Scheuer. My scene aims to show the stark contrast of a creating beauty against the ugly horror the dye inflicted on those just trying to make an honest living. I used lichens from trees for the flowers and leaves. Scraps of cloth were used to make their clothes. Wood, paper, paint, bone, horse hair and clay were used as well.

A few subjects History Bones has covered in the past include the Hamilton/Burr duel, the catacombs, Peter and Catherine the Great, D.B. Cooper, a Jui-Jitsu wielding Suffragette and many others.

Check out my Instagram @historybones and my website,, for tons of photos and explanations for each piece.

About BadAss Miniatures

BadAss Miniatures presents emerging perspectives in the miniature arts: an exhibition of original works in the miniature form contributed by artists from across the United States and abroad. The show was co-curated by Darren T. Scala and Kate Ünver founder of dailymini.

BadAss Miniatures is on view at YoHo Artist Studios, 540-578 Nepperhan Avenue, Studio #566 in Yonkers, NY and is on view through July 22, 2018.

Gallery hours are by appointment on Wednesday and Thursday 3-7pm and Saturday 11am-7pm. Hours are subject to change, visitors should call ahead.

Participating artists include: Chelsea Cates, Quinn Corbin, Kim Clough, Carolyn Nygren Curran, Jon Frier, Sonya Galaviz, Pamela Goldman, Faith Guynes, Amy Hahn, Lee Harper, Matt Herz, Kana Imai, Amanda Kelly, Louise Krasniewicz, Cassie Leigh, Evan Lorenzen, Ann Marie Matheus, Danielle McGurran, Kevin Melanson, Jill Orlov, Maria Ossandon Recart, Lydia Ricci, Meg Romero, Brooke Rothshank, Justin Rothshank, Maria Salehi, Lauren Carly Shaw, Devin Smith, Dylan Stanfield, Juli Steel, Tourmaline, Corinne Tryon, Susan Van Tubbergen, Jed Voltz, Damien James Webb, Leah Yao, and Michael Yurkovic.

BadAss Miniatures YoHo Artists Open Studio

Exhibition Director: Donald Morcone


D. Thomas Miniatures is a retail and gallery destination featuring top quality collectibles including 1/12th scale structure, furniture and accessories. The concept, designed to appeal to collectors, crafters and enthusiasts was created, in part, to raise awareness of miniatures as a decorative art form and to introduce the discipline not only to a new generation but to those who may just be discovering it! The gallery space showcases work in miniature by well-known artists from all over the world.

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