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Miniature Camp Chronicles

POSTED BY , ON July 15, 2013, 3 COMMENTS

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There are 68 Thorne Miniature Rooms in the Art Institute’s collection (including the French Dining Room pictured above), but we presently have 69 on view with the addition of our German Rococo loan room. It is my pleasure to take care of these rooms, as well as research their history and construction. This has led me to take up making miniatures of my own as a means of practice and to further my knowledge and appreciation of the art of fine miniatures. One of my great opportunities to practice comes once a year in a tiny coastal town in Maine called Castine. A group of miniature artists descends upon this town for Guild School, which is part of the International Guild of Miniature Artisans.  I just got back from this weeklong study trip and thought it might be interesting to share some of the things I learned.

But first a view of the town. It’s beautiful here but the trip is all about miniatures…

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All kinds of skills are taught, from creating miniature furniture to silver- and other metal-smithing to making plants and even miniature gold fish.

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We have the opportunity to work with many amazing miniatures teachers and students from around the world. While I was there, I ran into fellow Chicagoan and artist Mary Grady O’Brian.

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Some of you might remember her work as a part of our annual holiday decorations for the Thorne Rooms. She created the little Victorian doll and a bulto (or saint figure) for our New Mexico room.

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Here I am studying how to make a miniature basket in a class led by Francine Coyon.

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Weaving…..

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and at the end of the week a hinged lidded basket!

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And now learning miniature painting techniques with South African artist Beth Freeman-Kane.

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Here is my finished painted bird and landscape from her workshop.

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My new skills will be put to the test later this year as we bedeck a new Thorne Miniature Room this year for the holidays. Which will we pick? You’ll have to wait and see, but feel free to leave your guesses in the comments!

—Lindsay Mican Morgan, Department Technician, Thorne Rooms

Image Credit: Mrs. James Ward Thorne. French Dining Room of the Periods of Louis XV and Louis XIV, c. 1937. Gift of Mrs. James Ward Thorne.

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3 Responses to “Miniature Camp Chronicles”

  1. Nat K says:

    Thank you, Ms. Mican Morgan for the update!
    Who knew there was a ‘camp’ for miniature artists.
    It would be great if the museum’s shop added hand made miniatures to its items it sells. Especially, it would be lovely if they were hand-made, as it would be appropriate for a museum shop.
    We love the miniature room collection at the museum. Keep up the good work!
    Nat

  2. Linda Nason McElherne says:

    I love the miniature art pieces you made this summer at the workshop. Amazing!
    This past school year I helped introduce The Thorne Rooms to 4th graders, along with two teachers and the AIC staff. The students learned much about history, art, and architecture through this enchanting exhibit at the Art Institute of Chicago. It is a recommended must for all ages.

  3. Pam Oleson says:

    Thanks for sharing. I’ve not yet seen the Thorne Rooms decorated for Christmas but I plan to visit them this year at Christmas time. The workshop sounds really intriguing as I enjoy making minatures for my dollhouse.