Evoking Memories

Any miniaturist who has tried replicating a scene they have seen in person, in a picture, in the movies, or even in their own memories knows it is nearly impossible to include all the elements that scene actually includes. To successfully create a miniature representation of a scene, Ron Hoess (Chair of Miniature Settings at the Philadelphia Flower Show) explains that you have to selectively compress some elements of the scene. In order to fit everything and also to keep the proportions of the elements visually correct you have to remove or reorient some things. Ron does this successfully and impressively with the train layouts he designs and builds. For example, this building had several more columns of windows but once it was compressed to miniature form, it looked too crowded. Removing some of the windows made it look better proportioned even though it does not match the historic building exactly.


I call this “evoking” the scene rather than just replicating it. Since we are trying to reproduce scenes from movies for the 2015 Flower Show, I can show how that works with the movie I am working with, Alfred Hitchcock’s Rear Window. The most familiar scene from the movie, the courtyard of some Greenwich Village apartments, is simply too wide and complex to fit in our displays. So I need to evoke the scene without actually showing it all (and possible breaking some of the rules of our exhibits).

Each of the apartments has a character with memorable characteristics and these are what I am going to rely on to evoke a sense of their apartments without actually using figures. For example, there is the couple that sleeps on their fire escape and that have a little doggie that they lower in a basket into the yard below. At Philadelphia Miniature I found the perfect baskets made by an artist who was exhibiting at Jane Graber’s booth (I am not sure Jane made these or someone else since Jane specializes in pottery; if anyone knows, do tell me). Here is a scene from the movie and the baskets I found:


The dog was a bigger problem because it was hard to find a small dog but also one that appeared to be digging in the garden. Here are the candidates and I will have to add fur to them. Some people have done this quite successfully; I have never tried.


So the dog people (called “The Strangers” on film posters and the man and woman on the fire escape in film credits) will be easy to evoke with a few props: the dog, a basket that lowers from their fire escape, a mattress on that fire escape, a cowboy statue on the window ledge (got one from a Monopoly set and another one from a vendor at Miniaturia) and some books and a typewriter…

Another memorable character is the Sculptress (called Miss Hearing Aid in the screen credits). She also has several iconic props that evoke her as well as the building she works in front of which has classic columns that I just received from The Lawbre Company (they are slow to deliver but they make nice architectural details).


thankfully, neither is she. I made this effort to duplicate her work in miniature and it is not bad. It needs to be painted and placed on a stand (and psychoanalyzed). UPDATE: I just found out that this sculpture was called “Hunger” and was a studio prop not a replica of a real sculpture.