People in Miniature

As I finished up my Mother Goose project that I used a variety of people/characters in, I got to thinking about the various ‘people’ I made. 
When I started doing miniatures – as more than a dollhouse as a child, I didn’t much care for people in my scenes.  They seems very staid or too dollhousey.  Yes, that is a word – it just means something is more for play than what I do.  Although I do ‘play’ with my miniatures – once I am satisfied with how they are laid out, I glue stuff down.  Mostly because my projects are small enough to hold in the hand and things tend fall over when picked up.  Once you glue it down, that stops the ‘play’. 
Another way to think of dollhousey is that the items are clunky or not in scale with each other.  I know that I used to make that sort of stuff, so this is not meant to slam anyone.

When it comes to the doll in a scene I guess I used to think that it always looked like a doll or human.  It was posed and didn’t look real like sometimes the scene itself could be.  Granted the dolls I saw were typically not well done. They weren’t to the point you had to look twice to make sure it was just a doll. I don’t recall seeing many ‘characters’- people that are not meant to look like a real person. At least not the stuff I was exposed to.  I am sure the fantasy/whimsy stuff was out there.  I just didn’t see much of it. 

Even what I think I did see, I recall as being ceramic animals dressed as people.  I even have a rabbit doll like that I used. Now days, I do like people in my scenes.  Visit my other pages and you will see this more and more. Not every scene of course, but more often. When it comes to making them – well we have a plethora of media available to do that. My dolls/people/characters come from plastic figures (train figures, nativity figures), resin (rabbits, penguins), clay (hand made by me, or purchased), wire, paper and cloth (I offered kits of these before) and I even have some ceramic kittens and worms. Out in the miniature world, dolls I see have come a long way.  The ceramic playthings are still out there and they have their purpose.  There are doll artists who make dolls so real you would think they are if you stare at them long enough.  I have yet to plunk down the price they ask for them.  I think they are well worth the price, but just not for me.  Also those tend to be in 1:12 scale which I don’t do much anymore.
I love to purchase the ones in 1:48 scale that are made in polymer clay.  These actually fall into what I call ‘characters’ although more people in body shape.  It is their charm that has won me over.  They are so darn cute. 
When it comes to peopleing my scenes, I am using what I can to do that.  In my Mother Goose project, I did use a variety of people.  Variety as in the types of media and shapes.  In other projects, I tend to lean towards one type (media)  and one style (people vs character) in the project as a whole.  So no ‘realistic’ with ‘whimsical’ type figures.  The reason the MG project was different was that I had so many characters I wanted, that I used what I had available.  That was a personal theme I choose for that MG project– use what I have.  For all the simpleness of each section, it was the overall project that consumed the time.  That being the case, it was indeed ‘use what was available’ as I didn’t want to make every character by hand. Several of the ones I used for the MG project were plastic or resin and required that I re-work them.  I am really enjoying doing that now.  It is fun to have a resin or plastic figure that works with no tweaks, tweaks of paint, but fun all the more to play around with the dremel tool and making it into something else.  This is especially true if I have more than one of the same character or an odd one that doesn’t match up with anyone else.  Here are some examples of the variety I used in my MG project with before and after:

Before and after painting and dremel scuplting

These figures didn’t have bases.  Just a paint job improves this one, but I also took off the spy glass and the bucket with sailboat.

various stages of wire dolls
Dressed wee children

I’m not afraid to cut up the the bodies I use. Whether plastic or resin or wood, etc., I will use my dremel tool and glue to reconfigure them.

Plastic nativity figures I modified

After painting and modifying to fit the tub

Lessons here: be on the lookout for people including ones that can be modified.  Secondly, don’t be afraid of the dremel.  Third, be willing to paint over that mess that the factory did.  Lastly, adding people/characters to a scene may be just what it needed.