A nice day out.

A couple of them really.

It is only three weeks to the Min, which this time is in Hall 7 of the NEC.  It’s the first weekend of April and tickets are already available as always from the NEC and from Miniatura.

However, if three weeks seems long to wait for a dose of all things small and wonderful there is already an opportunity for a tiny trip out if you are in the vicinity of Redditch.  There, at the Forge Mill Needle Museum, until the 24th April, the International Miniature Needlework Society are holding an exhibition of their astounding work.  I always make time at Miniatura to go and see the latest display of members’ work.  Their reproductions in miniature of antique skills are breathtaking.  Members fearlessly tackle anything you can do in miniature by hand with a needle and thread.  There are two other floors to explore at the museum, Redditch having been the area for needle production in times gone by.  There are displays of every kind of needle you can think of and historic recreations of the lives of hundreds of artisans with sore pink fingers long, long ago.  Thank goodness it wasn’t me.

As you will see when you visit the Miniatura website, the miniature world is mourning the loss of Jane Newman, a much loved Miniatura exhibitor.  I am sure you remember me mentioning the passing of Annie Willis at the start of the year.  The hobby of miniatures is unique in celebrating the abilities of artists whose work features such accomplishment of hand and eye that is, increasingly, rarely found elsewhere.  Yes I know there are now dozens of channels on TV and the Internet featuring craft, but if you look closely you will see that much of the input is mass produced and the output expected from purchasing viewers is not very skilled at all.  In fact such channels are extremely keen to emphasise how very easy it all is.  So easy that anyone can purchase this kit of flat pieces of paper that easily go through your letter box which you can stick together with this glue they’ll sell you, in no more than two minutes to produce something you can give away or sell.

I don’t know about you but I have never thought anything you can do in two minutes with minimal instruction to be of much value.  The items I treasure are all to do with painstakingly acquired skill.  Rather than banging on about stuff that anybody can do, what gives me delight is having a good squizz at the stuff I didn’t think human hands were able to do at all. During most Miniaturas at some point you see someone standing in front of a craftsman and asking how they did that?  Just how did they do that?

My lovely eye man: Werner, Annie Willis, Jane Newman – how did they do that?  Just how did they do that?  Co-ordination of hand, mind, eye and soul and then practice and practice and practice.

Get yourself to Miniatura and just enjoy the rare people who have made the wonderful things and have passed the tests and are good enough to be there.

17th Century stumpwork was made in the 17th Century.  It was a thing of its time.  It was a hobby and skilled delight.  There were a few shops where you could buy the bits to make it and every now and then a bit turns up on the Antiques Road Show, or in a museum, priced at vast amounts because it is beautiful, made by hand carefully, so well as to have stood the test of time and now it is rare, rare, rare.

Dolls’ house miniatures will be like that, sooner than you think.    Enjoy this wonderful hobby while it exists.  Its current flourishing started in the Seventies, flourished mightily in the Eighties, which is when I joined and continues till today and there are new people starting but not in the numbers there were.  The old masters are dwindling in number, one day miniatures will be like the recreations of times gone by at the needle museum, we’ll be amazed it happened at all.

Full details as always:  www.miniatura.co.uk


Three weeks and counting!

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