Small Talk

Miniature Masterworks: Lee-Ann Chellis Wessel

Miniature Masterworks: Lee-Ann Chellis Wessel

Here at Small Talk we have featured several of Lee-Ann Chellis Wessel’s egg tempera paintings, but not what she might be most well known for: ceramics. Wessel has a BFA from Moore College of Art and a MFA from the University of Massachusetts Amherst in ceramics and has been creating fine-sale works of art in pottery and porcelain for more than 35 years.

Wessel says her work is about presenting beautiful, old objects in a new way to revitalize interest in their history, beauty, and style. She not only researches the objects themselves before starting a new project, but also the original creator of the piece, the methods and materials used to make it, where it was made, who owned and displayed it, and the historical context in which it existed. With all of this information in hand, she sets out to capture the essence of the piece in 1:12 scale.

Lee-Ann Chellis Wessel is one of over sixty artists participating in Miniature Masterworks, September 15-17, 2017.

Miniature Masterworks: Dustin White

Miniature Masterworks: Dustin White

Dustin White is inspired by historical spaces and he wants to represent it in the purest way possible in his scaled work. While his favorite is mid-18th century American domestic architecture, he has been known to work in Georgian, Federal, Greek Revival, and Victorian, but he never makes the same piece twice!

Miniature making is a combination of White’s three favorite things: art, architecture, and history. In 2015, he completed a one-room brick schoolhouse with over 5,000 bricks that he hand cut from reclaimed material. He considers each piece a success when you have to take a second look at a photograph of it to realize it’s a miniature.

Dustin White is one of over sixty artists participating in Miniature Masterworks, September 15-17, 2017.

Miniature Masterworks: Pia Becker

Miniature Masterworks: Pia Becker

Here at T/m, we wish we had a dollar for every time a story started with a childhood dollhouse.  Pia Becker’s story would make us one dollar richer! She filled the dollhouse her father made for her with purchased treasures, until she discovered that she could make her own.  A workshop in making tiny orchids led to a career as a miniature florist!

Working with paper and wire, Becker challenges herself to create the most natural looking plants and flowers possible. The key, she says, is in the imperfections: plants do not grow straight, they get brown spots from too much (or too little) sun and water, and no two leaves or blossoms are the same. You can learn her tricks of the trade at the IGMA Guild School.

Pia Becker is one of over sixty artists participating in Miniature Masterworks, September 15-17, 2017.

Miniature Masterworks: Bonni Backe

Miniature Masterworks: Bonni Backe

It’s hard to believe that a miniature career could be born out of lack of ambition, but that’s just how Bonni Backe describes it. By her own admission, she was too intimidated to weave a full-size overshot coverlet, popular in the mid-1800s, so she pulled out some fine wool and silk and constructed a 1:12 scale version. Ambitious enough for us!

After years of working in the textile design business in New York City, Backe applies her tremendous talent to creating traditional, historic, and custom rugs, coverlets, blankets and table linens in 1:12 scale. Because the thread Backe uses is not proportional to her projects (it would be impossible to see!), she has to fool the viewer’s eye with the illusion of scale. And she does! She also shares her skills at the IGMA Guild School every summer.

Bonni Backe is one of over sixty artists participating in Miniature Masterworks, September 15-17, 2017.

Miniature Masterworks: Shirley Whitworth Bertram

Miniature Masterworks: Shirley Whitworth Bertram

Although Shirley Whitworth Bertram retired from miniature shows in 2010, she will be attending Miniature Masterworks as a Master Artist, a special designation for accomplished fine-scale miniature artists who have helped pave the way for others.

When Bertram began making miniatures in the mid-1980s, she realized that there were few artists creating figures that represented people of all ages and social classes. She filled this void by developing techniques to give her porcelain models realistic wrinkles and crinkles. She spent hours researching original patterns and period fashions so that she could dress them in authentic costumes. Bertram also taught her craft to future generations of miniature artists.

Shirley Whitworth Bertram is one of over sixty artists participating in Miniature Masterworks, September 15-17, 2017.

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