Philadelphia Miniaturia 2016


The 2016 Philadelphia Miniaturia show was this past weekend and as usual it had a lot of interesting work. But before I get to two of the artists whose work impressed me, I have to say that the direction miniatures are going in is a bit distressing. There are still plenty of wonderful artists (although many of my favorites did not make it to this show) but the trend overall is to go to quarter-scale. This means that instead of each foot of measure in the real world being scaled down to an inch in a miniature, a foot is now being scaled down to a quarter inch. That is really tiny. What bother me is that it seems like there is less opportunity to make your own objects from scratch at this scale: a lot of the quarter inch accessories were available as kits instead. I think that is nice for people who have a space crunch in their homes (having just downsized, I understand this) but I love the kind of photo-real detail you can get with one inch scale work.

Quarter scale not only dominated the sales floor, it made up most of the exhibit room, too. Here are some examples.



Fine work but the scale tends to favor scenes and structure, much like the model railroad work it resembles.

Ronny Smith, who always does a good job getting the exhibits together, displayed this amazing kit (from the 1960s). Wish they still made miniatures like this.


Back on the sales floor, Spencer’s Nook always has nice one inch scale accessories and a scene on display. I especially like this one.


I met these delightful people at “The Sweetest Art” display by “The English Kitchen: Collectable Miniature Foods.” I don’t usually notice the miniature food displays but this year this work by Lesley Burgess caught my eye. It was also a good test for my iPhone 7 camera which does great miniature photographs.



Later I walked by Debbie Apt who was crocheting a wonderful afghan with the tiniest crochet hook. She told me that the hook was very sharp and so she has her finger covered with tape to avoid being stuck. Her afghans were very detailed and soft and supple. Very impressive. She was displaying at the Minutia table (sorry, no web link).




  1. Janit Calvo

    Thank you for posting this, Dr. K! I can never seem to make it to that show.

    You know, the same thing happened at the NAME convention this past July. There was so many things in quarter-scale in the showroom, I left with money still in my wallet – wait, actually I don’t think I found anything to buy at all. SO unusual for me! That was supposed to be my time to treat myself.

    The “big” plus for working in the larger scales is that one can work with it! I find the tiny stuff a bit too tedious and you know how much I love miniatures. It’s a huge hole in the market that is being overlooked these days.

    1. Dr. K

      I spent my money on inexpensive supplies (especially fabric and glues) because I didn’t see much compelling to buy. I, too, still like one inch but I fear I will be criticized for criticizing the smaller stuff.

  2. Janit Calvo

    I would not want to hear your voice silenced, Dr. K., nor would I be wary of anyone criticizing you simply because no one is in a position in this industry to do so.

    The show promoters, artists and people in the business of miniatures need to know this kind of feedback in order to know what is going on in the minds of the customer. Please know that if you feel this way, there are many others who feel the same way but may not have a voice in the game.

    I’m not discouraging the quarter-scale, I love it, but it’s just not for me. Steve won’t go near it because his hands are too big – another reason that is perfectly valid and won’t hold up to criticism of any kind.

    Keep in keeping on! We love what you have brought to the industry, your work, writings and research. Critique away, we want to hear it! ❤

    1. Dr. K

      Aww, thanks. That is so supportive and helpful as I frame my next argument for making vs collecting. I do collect some high end pieces from artists I love but there is nothing like making your own miniatures (in one inch, of course).

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