Esther's Magic Miniatures
Guest blog contributor Esther Marker from EsthersMagicMiniatures takes us on her journey and talks about how she got into making miniatures and how she crafts the most awesome tiffany inspired lamps and lighting fixtures using 3D technology. Watch the replay of my chat with Esther on a recent Meet the Miniaturist livestream by clicking on the links below.
There has always been an artist inside me waiting to be unleashed. From the time I was a young child, art has always fascinated me. I grew up, got involved in my studies and went on to becoming a Maritime Lawyer. I spent several years as an advocate in Bombay, practicing in High Court there, arresting ships for a living. My profession was hectic and demanded a lot of my time so it was not until I got married and moved to Trivandrum that I could give vent to my artistic endeavors. Trivandrum is a tropical paradise but lacked a High Court which was vital to my specific branch of Law. I found myself suddenly bored and looking for ways to occupy my time and do something with my life. I got involved with dollhouse miniatures and was fascinated by the level of realism that one could infuse into these tiny works of art. I began collecting these avidly with the idea of one day putting it all together in a 1/12th scale mansion I would be proud to call my own and later started making my own pieces as well. I picked up some sculpting skills and started working in polymer clay to create miniature faeries and dolls.
In 2005, I got involved in something called “Second Life” where one could live in a parallel world as an avatar. The citizens of Second Life ranged from creators who built the environment, to musicians, artists, sculptors and more. Everywhere I looked there was talent to be seen and experienced like never before. My wide-eyed fascination with this multiverse was so strong that I decided I also wanted to be a part of it. Second Life had a huge community of people that would spend real money to buy digital products and services. They could build or buy beautiful homes within Second Life and decorate these with furniture lighting and more. I started a business called “Skin Within” where I would design character textures for Second Life avatars. As I sadly lacked the 3D skills at that point, I hired a builder called Elliot Eldrich to build this for me. It was awesome to watch Elliot at work, create blocks, expanding them into walls and building my store in front of my eyes. Being involved in Second Life made me comfortable with the 2D graphical design I needed for my business and visualizing within a 3D space. As I grew as an artist there, I started to wonder how this new digital knowledge I had acquired during my journey in the metaverse could now be used to enhance my miniatures.
I like keeping abreast with technology changes and at some point, Second Life had started to slow down, and 3D printing was becoming a thing. In the back of my mind, I always wondered how these glorious new machines could contribute to my artistic journey and how they could be used going forward. I initially started by downloading files from the internet and finishing those, but later found that being able to create my own pieces was vital to my personal feelings of success. Though I was comfortable with a 3D environment, I had no knowledge of any 3D design software. I eventually came across something called Shapr3d that I found exceptionally intuitive to use. I decided to learn all that I possibly could about this software and attempt to use it to create miniatures.
Tiffany lamps are fabulous in their appearance, and I’ve always wanted to create these in miniature. I went through the miniaturist rite of passage and made one with a ping pong ball as well. However, the idea of cutting and then joining 100’s of tiny pieces of glass was extremely daunting. After I picked up some rudimentary skills in Shapr3d, I decided to use that knowledge and see how I could adapt it to creating these pieces. Once I had a simple design made, I tried 3D printing it and painting it. It was a fascinating process that just flowed from one aspect to the next and resulted in in a believable scale miniature at the end. I was pleasantly surprised by the result, and moved on to more complex designs, learning more and more as I went along.
The entire process from start to finish has several challenges. After a piece is designed, it needs to be supported so that it prints properly. After it has printed, these supports need to be removed and the piece fully cured. The next step in this fascinating workflow is painting it so it looks like a believable scaled down Tiffany lamp. I find that glass paint over the clear resin simulates glass perfectly. Metallic wax is wonderful over primed resin in creating a to scale metal surface. One can play with patinas and distressed finishes as well. To my mind, using the exact material as the full-sized counterpart is not as important as using one’s skills and techniques to make one believe they are looking at the real thing.
I love the aspect of combing technology with art. It is important that the lamp is not only beautiful, but also functional. It needs open wiring channels plus a smart way to conceal wires in case multiple bulbs are used within the design. Everything needs to be to scale and believable, fooling the eye into thinking this is a full-scale object, made from metal and glass.
I currently not only create finished miniature lighting but also resin kits that other artists can buy and finish to match their dollhouses. I have a Facebook page where they often share their finished pieces and it is fabulous to see how each one interprets and finishes it in their own way.
I slowly want to increase the repertoire of what my store offers to include 3d printed and perfectly finished pieces of furniture, fixtures, objects of art and more.
Watch my special Meet the Miniaturist livestream for my chat with Esther to learn more about her miniatures and for an inside look at how she crafts her tiny treasures.
Thank you for your interest, this event is free however if you would like to make a financial contribution to the ongoing development of my programming, please consider contributing to my efforts. You contribution grants entry to the D. Thomas Patrons Club featuring exclusive content, events and activities to members.
Until Next Time: #LiveYourBestMiniLife