As I’ve mentioned before, I’m a sucker for life in miniature. (It dawns on me that perhaps it’s not coincidence that we own a toy poodle and a chihuahua…) While there is a time and place for chocolate chip cookies that require two hands, I generally gravitate toward the bite-size. And in the studio, I love the challenge of small, intricate artwork. If life is in the details, I’m living well. :)
It should come as no surprise, then, that I was so excited to read Microcrafts: Tiny Treasures to Make and Share by Margaret McGuire and friends. It contains patterns and pictures for 25 little whimsical projects. Among my favorites are matchbox-size felt monster babies, walnut shell sailboats, and mini-fabric bunting just crying out to decorate the top of birthday cupcakes. However, there was no contest for which piece I would try first: as soon as I saw the itty-bitty solar system mobile, I was already reaching for my art supplies.
I recently tried my hand at felting for the first time (the process of making handmade felt from wool roving), so I already had a bin full of hand-dyed alpaca wool waiting to be turned into little planets. The process itself was fairly simple and the only other requirements were soapy, warm water, a bamboo mat (like the type sushi is rolled on), and a little patience.
This turned out to be a great do-together for my daughter and I, as we took turns rolling and shaping the wool into various heavenly bodies. (The only drawback was that our hands smelled like wet alpaca for days. I can now add “smelling like a llama left out in the rain” to my list of Weird Things I’ve Done for Art.) The finished felted spheres range in size from 3/4″ to 1 1/2″ in diameter, and as you can see from the pictures above, they are a fraction of the size of the wool balls with which we began.
After a day of drying time, assembling the mobile was also pretty straightforward — just a matter of threading embroidery floss through each piece and tying them on. I harvested a couple of twigs from the tree in our front yard to use as the hanging frame (quite possibly the only useful contribution a Bradford pear tree ever made). I already knew my complete lack of scale wouldn’t be winning me any new astrophysicist friends, so I threw in Pluto too. Really, how could I possibly make a miniature solar system model and not include our diminutive neighbor? (Don’t worry Pluto, you’ll never be too small for me.)
(Microcrafts, Quirk Books: 2011, ISBN 978-1594745218)