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Small Art: Miniaturists Install Tiny Doors Along Old Croton Aqueduct

Rivertowns Enterprise

June 16, 2023

by Kris DiLorenzo


Sharp-eyed strollers on the Old Croton Aqueduct trail between Dobbs Ferry and Irvington may spot a tiny red door, a teenie weenie office, a Hobbit-style house, a unique version of a kaleidoscope, and a child-sized replica of the stone ventilators that punctuate the historic path.

Miniaturists Darren Scala of Yonkers, owner of D Thomas Fine Miniatures, and arts educator May Burnett of Dobbs Ferry mounted the structures on fences and trees as well as QR codes on badges to help the curious track down the tiny creations.

It took Scala and Burnett four months to produce the detailed miniatures, which they installed in May. The two frequently walked the OCA and on one excursion discussed miniatures.

“We were talking about our love of tiny doors,” Scala said, on May 13th. “We love tiny doors; I don't know why. We thought we could work on a tiny door project and plant them around the aqueduct for people to find. Our goal is to have people discover miniatures and fall in love with them as much as we love them.”

“Everything we have is made of either found materials or traditional materials, like wood, acrylic, paints, and brass for hinges and door knobs,” Scala added.

Installing the works was a bit tricky. “We had to be stealthy... we had to pretend that we were just stopping and taking a break,” he continued. “We went on many reconnaissance missions to figure out where and how we were going to place them.”

The pair placed most of the structures in one day, but the day after the job was completed torrential rain arrived. Multiple coats of polyurethane protected the miniatures from damage.

Heading north, the office is the first miniature one encounters, at the bottom corner of the concrete stairs that lead down to the OCA at the intersection of Cedar and Main Streets. A screen door opens to the inner door marked “Tiny Doors of Dobb's Ferry”. The roof appears to be wooden shingles, and a facsimile of a bulletin board is fastened to an outside wall. Inside are miniscule maps to assist on the hunt for more treasures.

A red door on the end post of a chain link fence on the east side of the path is next period a potted plant sits on faux stone pavers at the door, which boasts a brass knocker and a globe light in an overhead sconce. The door is marked “6” for a total number of doors in the series (one has vanished), and the color is meant to reflect the Zion Episcopal Church red door, Scala noted. In their choice of miniatures, he and Burnett tried to highlight some historical aspect of the Hudson Valley.

The ventilator sits at the base of its actual counterpart. Scala used egg cartons to replicate the grey brick of the original and added graffiti for a realistic touch.

He thinks the abstract kaleidoscope door is unique. On a stump behind the fully restored Lord & Burnham greenhouse on the Armour-Steiner Octagon House property, the structure is a house shaped trio of gradually taller peaked glass walls spaced apart with no roof a horizontal wooden bar pierces them with an eyepiece on the front end and the kaleidoscope mechanism at the other. The viewer will see revolving reflections of maple seeds, lavender, and dogwood.

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