The Dollhouse Whisperer: Miniatures Make for Good Therapy!
The reasons why so many of us make miniatures vary widely. As a hobby, miniatures are engaging, enjoyable and a great way to direct inner creative energies. Some makers spend their time in this arts and crafts category to build, assemble and decorate a dollhouse or room box. Others enjoy the process of making tiny things while being part of a club or organization where there is collective camaraderie and shared community of like-minded folks with similar passions. Others turn to miniatures to help navigate difficult times, a means to help manage emotions, process traumatic experiences or to help survive a personal crisis.
Adam Koch, the theatrical stage and musical set designer from Brooklyn New York, channeled his grief after the passing of his father in 2017 by igniting his childhood passion for dollhouses and miniatures. He yearned to experience a satisfying and therapeutic healing and bring himself pure joy and fun during a particularly dark time. On losing his father, Adam says “…I had this impulse to invest in that dormant passion, I didn’t know where it would lead, but it felt good!”
He started his @DollhouseTherapy Instagram account by posting images of miniatures he found appealing including those from the famed Thorne Rooms at the Chicago Art Institute and Queen Mary’s Dolls House. As the COVID-19 pandemic became the 2020 reality, Adam began to expand his passion and yearning for joy and started to purchase and renovate vintage dollhouses, all the while documenting his progress on social media. His account has grown considerably as fans began following and enjoying his dollhouse and miniature projects. He truly found a new hobby to keep him busy during this difficult year.
Virginia-based arts educator and miniaturist Amanda Kelly (Instagram: @PandaMiniatures) is best known for her work “Her Bed” featured in the 2018 Badass Miniatures exhibition at D. Thomas Fine Miniatures in Yonkers, New York. The piece, inspired by work by the artist Tracey Emin (whose work has been featured at the Tate), is a vignette of the artist’s bedroom after a particularly distressing bout with depression during her college life. Amanda explains that sometimes making miniatures helps her to escape into another world.
A more recent piece, “Isolation,” which was on view at the Shelter in Place Gallery (a virtual exhibition space on Instagram @ShelterInPlaceGallery) is a 1/144 scale representation of an apartment building near her home in Brooklyn, New York, where she lived prior to relocating to Virginia.
The piece offers a view inside each of apartment (with marked moving boxes strewn about!) and reflects anxiety she was feeling and the flight response she had to the pandemic. She felt uprooted from her hometown of 10 years and reflects feelings of isolation and anxiety in New York City during the early days of the pandemic/quarantine, felt by so many. Amanda uses miniature making as “process therapy” and once she completes a project she says, “I can now move on, reflect back at a snapshot in time, while closing a chapter in my life. I feel like it’s definitely therapy.”
Robin Warner, from Portland, Oregon is a mom, artist, activist who creates “Diotraumas.” These are small scale vignettes and scenes crafted from found objects representing “short little chunks of time,” particularly hard times in her life. In one diotrauma, Robin recreated her childhood bedroom, from a particularly chaotic period of her life, filling a discarded razor package with items she recalls helped to soothe her anxiety especially books which she turned to escape into. Robin explains that once she completes a piece, “…it’s like releasing your inner ‘whatever’ through art so it becomes a piece on my shelf and is no longer stabbing my heart.” She goes on to say “I more fully understand that moment in my life. I understand how it fits today. Yeah, and I can love this little girl and I can forgive and thank this little girl. So, there's definitely a huge therapeutic component!” Robin plans to create several additional diotraumas and continue using them as a way to help cope with past experiences.
There are many reasons we turn to miniature making: creating to move past trauma, to overcome grief by helping to soothe the soul or to ease pain. We can learn to channel creative energy to help survive, overcome and move forward. Miniatures really do make happy!
Head over the DollsHouse and Miniature Scene Magazine for more news, features and talk about miniatures from the UK and around the world!
Until Next Time - Live Your Best MiniLife!