Advancing the Art of Miniature Doll Making
Ezine owned by
Cynthia Howe – Artistry in Miniature
I got into miniatures in 1976 a couple years after high
school. I began with the purchase of a kiln and learned
how to make molds. And started my first business,
Thumbelina Originals, making dollhouse scale porcelain
After 4-5 years, I found myself setting the miniatures
aside, and began teaching and making antique
reproduction dolls. Employed by Alberta's Molds, Inc.,
a company desiring to enter the doll mold market, I met
Donna Willits, who worked for Wee 3, a company
specializing in doll wigs and accessories. "Donna and
I became great friends, and had many wonderful
adventures together, including teaching wax over
porcelain. Donna also owned a doll costume pattern
company, and hired me as her pattern designer." Later I bought the company and spent nearly a decade specializing in costume patterns for modern art dolls. During this period, I sculpted a series of 24" dolls which I took to the New York Toy Fair and sold.
MY next move was to Clotilde, Inc. Through Clotilde, I learned a great deal about import and export, catalog marketing, and overseas manufacturing. Then a couple of years ago, I looked again at the world of miniatures. "I was amazed at the tremendous growth in the quality of dolls,molds available, specialized tools and supplies."
One of the first websites I found was Dana of Miniature Art. After several hours pouring over Dana's frills and mini doll projects, I knew I had to give mini's a chance.
My first venture was in miniature hat making. Next came dresses. Then I ordered a few molds and, with years of doll making and china painting experience, was totally addicted. "I felt that I had come full circle back to miniatures."
The next turn in my life was not of my choosing. My husband, Larrell, got hurt at work. Larrell eventually had to leave his machinist's job and retrain for something that involved no lifting or strenuous excercise. So Larrell trained as a mold maker under Anthony Buloner, a master moldmaker with 50 years experience. who lives near us in Solvang. Larrell makes all of my masters and production molds, and also does moldmaking for other dollartists, and for House of Caron. Larrell is, moldmaker, specializing in miniatures. (which makes him a handy guy around my house!) I decided that if Larrell was going to learn moldmaking, that I would do the sculpting. "Ten minutes after picking up that clay, I was like a woman possessed, not wanting to put it down.
Do visit Cynthia's website at:
There are many online tutorials, covering everything from mini millinery to doll costuming and china painting for miniature dolls. She is a firm believer that if she sells you a mold, she has an obligation to share whatever she can to help you create the finest doll possible.
Cynthia Howe is serious about her art. She is one of several mini doll makers trying to promote miniature dolls, and miniatures as a whole, as an art form.
As for dolls, my current favorite is Hallie, which can be done as a boudoir doll ( is that romantic???) or not... and I did her in a pretty soft rose and black ballgown.....
A few tips from Cindy:
My advice is start slow, add an element at a time. There are so many different aspects to miniature dolls. (Sculpting, moldmaking, casting, painting, costuming, wigging, accessorizing, mini shoes, mini hatmaking....Each could be a hobby unto itself!!
Whatever you choose, a start-to-finish doll or one part of a doll-making adventure, try to remain flexible and open to whatever wants to be created and have fun!
Guess good lighting is essential, and I use ott lights for everything, because they are colortrue, and also aleviate eyestrain... I use Aleen's designer tacky in the pink bottle for everything. Period. If they ever go out of business, I'll have to retire!
Patience, and practice are two key elements in becoming a good miniaturist. (And not being afraid to toss it out and start again (and again, and again) if necessary to achieve what you are striving for.)
A patient family who does not mind takeout and eating on tv trays for months at a time cause the kitchen table is stacked with the latest project is a great asset, as is a good vaccum cleaner that lets you see what minis you sucked out of the carpet before you dump the cannister!
Cindy's finished pieces are only available thru www.daisysdollhouseminis.com
And be sure to watch for her teaching schedule this fall on Miniature U.