Little is Big in the World of Miniatures


OAKLAND TRIBUNE: June 4, 2010

 Meet Cindy Lovesy – the minimalist. It’s the little things in life that matter to this Montclair dental office manager – literally.

     “I started making miniatures several years ago,” says Lovesy, “when my daughter wanted a doll house.” Realizing she could make it herself, she spent the nights before Christmas crafting the tiny doll dwelling in her garage – while her little girl was asleep. 14 years later, there are miniatures in every room of the Lovesy home, as well as the reception counter at her place of employment, Dr. Laurie Shepherd DDS.

     In Lovesy’s living room there’s a nautical theme with tiny faux fish “swimming” in a miniature Monterey Bay Aquarium. The family kitchen is mirrored in a miniature kitchen, and the bathroom is reserved for holiday boxes, like the Currier and Ives Christmas scene set in a parlor with stylish French doors and a lighted tree.      

     A hobby like this, Lovesy admits, can be addictive. “My daughter says ‘mom – you’ve got too many!’” But Lovesy says miniatures are immensely satisfying to build, and she’s learned skills she can use around the house. “A lot of stuff I have learned, I’ve been able to incorporate in doing work on my own home.” Because miniatures are tiny working replicas, Lovesy has learned to miter and lay tile and even do basic electrical wiring – all skills taught in craft classes offered around the state.    

     Like many hobbyists, she keeps her tools and her paints and 18 kinds of glue in plastic drawers on a workbench in the garage. It may be a carport but it’s her place to create – and she usually has multiple projects going at once.

     Right now it’s a French wine and cheese bar, featuring indoor and outdoor cafes and a trellis of tumbling grapevines. “I’ve ordered a quarter inch waiter from a woman back east,” she says, adding that item, alone, will cost $50.

     She’ll splurge on the waiter but not on the miniature bottles of wine. Yes, you can even buy real wine bottles with one drop of wine inside, for anywhere between $35 and $75 a bottle.

     But that price pales in comparison to the diminutive dental chair Lovesy is eyeing for her miniature dental office. Turns out that chair costs a whopping $800, and comes complete with a little spit sink. “I’m saving up for that,” she says, adding “It’s fantastic. It’s so realistic – it even has moving parts.”

     At $800 a chair, someone is making money on this hobby, but it’s not Lovesy. She says she’s in it just for the fun, and will occasionally give one of her room boxes away, but doesn’t sell them. Her club, Mini Dreamers in Pinole, holds a show each September for charity and is part of a much larger guild called the National Association of Miniature Enthusiasts. This year’s benefit is September 10 and 11, and each local hobbyist is working on a miniature for the event. “I’m doing an Italian Winery dinner party,” she says, “with a table with wine and cheese and breads.” Another member is making a wedding chapel. A third is constructing a gazebo and hot tub. “We all bought these kits,” Lovesy says, “then we display them together.”

     The result is a tiny, magical village that captures a moment in time. It’s dreamy and whimsical and appeals to the child in all of us. But for hobbyists like Lovesy, it’s more about the journey than the end result. The satisfaction comes in making something small with your hands. “You’re creating something,” she says. “It’s tiny and it’s fascinating.”

     For more information on the Dollhouse and Miniature Show, see http://wingsnthings.tripod.com/champs.htm.

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