Happy Valentine's Day! photo with miniature furniture, fireplace, bunny, hearts and spools. Photo Copyright Elaine Luther 2021.

I’m taking daily photos of a miniature scene for my 100 Day Project. Sometimes these work out as digital holiday cards, such as this one, from yesterday, for Valentine’s Day. They’re not always this cute!

Today is day 16, and I’ve already taken a request, for Crazy Cat Lady:

A cluttered miniature space is filled with many tiny plastic cats, a mini bike, a broom, some plants, a basket, a pumpkin, two bowling pins, a plastic bucket, a miniature painting, and more. Along the back wall is a sheet from a game, with punched out fish shapes. Somewhere in the scene is a woman, barely visible. One cat investigates a knocked over bowl of cream.

“Crazy Cat Lady” Miniature Scene by Elaine Luther. Photo Copyright Elaine Luther 2021.

Next, I’d like to do a Plant Lady, but I’ll have to collect a lot more plants first.

Each scene usually contains some vintage wooden spools, that I’ve wrapped with text fragments. Many of them, but not all, include a teapot, or coffee pot, or tea cup.

I’ve been making these text-wrapped spools for years, but mostly they’ve sat in my studio, under a glass dome, intriguing people who came to visit.

Is it storage or is it art? Copyright Elaine Luther 2016. Wooden spools, wrapped with text, under a glass dome.

Is it storage or is it art? Copyright Elaine Luther 2016

I’ve used some of them in my Balance & Tension sculptures. I like to use them in the scenes of miniatures because it takes the scenes out of being entirely cute or a dollhouse room – they’re not that. I use dollhouse miniatures that are on the 1″ to a foot scale, plus some other toys and objects that are about the right size. Adding in the spools takes it somewhat out of the dollhouse world and takes it to another place, and it messes with the scale a little bit.

And maybe I’m thinking a little bit of The Littles and The Borrowers, books, whose characters used spools for tables and chairs.

What is the text on the spools? Most of it is handwriting from letters written to me. To make it on a spool, the handwriting needs to be interesting looking, and compact enough to fit.

I started taking these photos last October, here’s an early one:

A wooden spools and miniature tea set photo by Elaine Luther, October 2020. A group of 4 wooden spools, most with text wrapped around them. A tall spool has a dollhouse teapot on it and a lower spool has a teacup with spoon and saucer.

A wooden spools and miniature tea set photo by Elaine Luther, October 2020.

It took me a while to get the lighting right, and to work out the background. In the picture above, the set up is a painted cigar box as the backdrop, and a small poster board as the floor. I consulted with a photographer friend and her advice really helped me improve things. Another artist friend suggested I use warmer light, and I made that change too.

I had a different idea at first, for the 100 Day Project, but after my first day of working on it – 100 Days of Place-based Textile Collages, I realized that that project was not ready for prime time and also needed to be worked out without an audience. I’ll still do it, I’ve already gathered some textiles from places.

The photos of mini scenes are perfect for the 100 Day Project – their guidelines suggest the project should take 10-15 minutes a day. And doing this for 100 days will result in new and creative things that might not have happened otherwise. That’s already happened, and it’s only day 16! An artist friend suggested, nay, strongly requested, a crazy cat lady scene! And now I want to do a crazy plant person scene.

The doll house chair I already had was too big, so I’ve had to buy smaller ones. First a blue one, then the red one you see in the Valentine’s image.

I could show you lots of things that didn’t work! Too many objects, too cluttered. A dollhouse stove? Looked weird.

I’d already been working with miniatures – I’ve epoxied tiny teapots and tea cups into my Balance & Tension sculptures, and they’re in some of my Medals that You Wouldn’t Want to Earn.

Precarious Tea Party 2, Copyright Elaine Luther 2015

There are also lots and lots of miniatures in the Our Ladies of Perpetual Housework. So many dirty dishes, and books, and a tiny cake, mops, brooms, little mice, and a skeleton…

And, as an assemblage sculptor, I’m a collector. I didn’t have a dollhouse as a kid, not the fancy kind, but I did collect dollhouse miniatures just a little, as a kid.

That means I already had some miniatures around when I started taking these photos in the fall of last year. And I quickly realized I needed more! The nice part about the photos is that the miniatures aren’t glued down, so I can use them again and again, which is helpful for the artist’s budget. And there’s always Christmas and birthdays. What do other women ask for? I always ask for art supplies.

If you’d like to follow the project on Instagram, here’s the link:

https://www.instagram.com/elaine_luther

What do I do with these photos? Besides share them on Instagram, I also make them into greeting cards!

You can see the first cards to be released in this line in our online shop, Totally Legit Card Co.