Small Talk Tag: Pete Acquisto

Miniature Masterworks: Pete Acquisto

Wine Fountain, Pete Acquisto

For Pete Acquisto, making it up as he goes along is part of the job. “Making miniatures is problem solving, and that’s how I view making miniature silver.” Acquisto starting working in his father’s custom woodshop at the age of 14 where he learned how to carve and work with power tools. Five years later, he went into business with a friend selling Indian jewelry. There he learned silversmithing by working with the artisans he hired.

His miniature career actually started on a whim when he made a plate, goblet, and coffee pot for his sister’s friend to take to a fine-scale show. After she came back with a bunch of orders, Acquisto Silver was born. Since then, Acquisto has used techniques from his furniture and jewelry-making days to build a portfolio of over 200 Georgian, Victorian, and Queen Anne silver pieces in 1:12 scale. Acquisto says that engravings and small parts like hinges, feet, and legs are the hardest, but he loves the challenge.

Pete Acquisto is our first “Small Talk” feature of over sixty artists who are participating in Miniature Masterworks, September 15-17, 2017.

You Say Samovar, I Say Wine Fountain

Wine Fountain, Pete Acquisto

We originally thought that one of the more than 100 pieces of Pete Acquisto’s miniature silver work in the T/m collection was a samovar. That is until Acquisto came to visit the museum in 2011. He prefers making miniatures in the style of American and English silversmiths from the 16th to the 18th centuries. So, it makes sense that the silver piece we thought was a Russian samovar is actually a wine fountain.

Wine fountains were used to rinse glasses before they were refilled for guests at the dining table. The Victoria and Albert Museum has a similar wine fountain on loan in their collection. The V&A’s silver wine fountain was made by Pierre Platel, a prestigious Huguenot goldsmith, in London, England.

Similar to Platel, Acquisto is also prestigious, holding the International Guild of Miniature Artisans’s (IGMA) highest honor as a Fellow member. IGMA was founded in 1978 to promote fine miniatures as an art form. Fellow membership is awarded to those, like Acquisto, whose work develops into the epitome of excellence. We couldn’t agree with them more!

Cast Me a Samovar

Like many miniature artists, Pete Acquisto transferred his skills in a full-scale craft (for him, jewelry making) to miniatures. After selecting and researching classic antique silver styles and forms, he uses casting to create each work. He likes to choose increasingly difficult pieces, such as this samovar, or beverage dispenser, in the T/m collection. Samovars were used in Central and Eastern European countries to heat water for tea.

Can’t imagine how someone can make something so intricate, so small? Check out this video from the Mini Time Machine Museum of Miniatures to hear Acquisto talk about his work. Then, see more of Acquisto’s miniature reproductions of antique silver in 1:12 and 1:24 scale online at the Acquisto Gallery of Fine Art.