Monday, March 28, 2011


As I was photographing this scene in my midcentury modern bungalow, I kept thinking moody, moody. Not sad, just moody. Perhaps it is the lighting, or the color scheme that developed as I put it together, but in the end, I am happy with the way the moodiness reigned.

See those ottomans? They are quite minimal, modular pieces by Concord, $4.95 for the pair! Lemon Cadet tipped me off on them. I decided to use them without the tops, which are slightly rounded and come right off. Lemon Cadet used them here, and removed the legs but kept the tops -- check out the rest of her Flickr stream too, with lots of Petite Princess treasures and other vintage pieces.

The artwork on the wall is by Mark Manders, who has a traveling show on view now at the Aspen Art Museum -- Parallel Occurrences/Documented Assignments. Very interesting work, and I do like the piece pictured here, Ramble-room Chair (2010).

A last bit, no moodiness here: my Crate and Barrel tissue box house featured in a post last month was chosen for an exhibit, Members' Musings, at Grounds for Sculpture, here in central New Jersey. You can read more here about the show, which opens on April 9 and runs through June 5. If you are nearby, check it out!

Credits: Dining table is Bodo Hennig; couch (VERO?), credenza (Crailsheimer?), and watering can (Bodo Hennig?) are vintage German; Arc lamp and lucite dining chairs are eBay finds; rug is vintage TOMY; plant is AG Minis; Barcelona chair is Reac; pillows on couch are by Annina; pillow on chair is by minimodernistas; ottomans are Concord Miniatures; artwork is by Mark Manders. Accessories are beads from Pubdoll, AG Minis, Re-ment, Delph, and eBay finds.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Opposing Views

Once my TOMY Smaller Home and Garden came to live in my dollhouse room, it ended up facing my Kaleidoscope House. They couldn't be more different, of course--not only in scale and shape, but color. The K House is a multi-colored gem that shifts hues as you play in it and move the plexi panels, while the TOMY is a study in neutral yellows, tans, and browns.

I worked on a scene in the K House that was all about bold strokes of color. This is a case where I would only do this in 1:12 scale, instead of my 1:1 life. I picked up the table base in the clearance section of TJ Maxx for $2, and have no clue what is supposed to be. I am sure that there are pieces to it missing. It has the word "limonata" on it, which I know is a tasty fizzy drink, but who knows.

See the blond wood flooring (it's actually a sheet from the Paper Source)? What do you think of this look for the K House? This is my first time experimenting with any wood-type flooring here. I think I dig it.

After finishing that scene, I decided to throw a very quick one together "across the street" in the TOMY. Thus far I have only set up scenes in the upstairs, so I decided to use the living room space. Really only 1:16 or smaller works in this room -- most of the 1:12 pieces I tried looked so gigantic. So in went my vintage LISA set and a diminutive 1:12-scale PRD Miniatures coffee table along with some other neutral pieces.

Quite the opposite of the limonata, eh?

Credits: K House: Table base is from TJ Maxx, and top of the table is a holiday ornament from Crate and Barrel; Eames molded chairs are Reac; desk chair is vintage Wolverine; desk is a plastic box; plant is vintage TOMY; wall art is a jewelry charm from Michaels, and the wallpaper is also from there; fixture is by Bozart; record player on top shelf is from a set of Japanese magnets; wood flooring is from the Paper Source; rug is Peppercorn Minis. Accessories are Re-ment, AG Minis, beads from Pubdoll, ELF Miniatures, and dollhouse store finds. TOMY: Couch and chairs are vintage LISA; standing lamp and plant are vintage Lundby; coffee table is PRD Miniatures; side table is vintage German, as is the table lamp; logs are a train layout accessory from Michaels; picture on fireplace mantle is by Gigi N Studio, and vase is from a dollhouse store, don't remember which one.

Re-ment: I've written about the Re-ment in these scenes with one exception, in the K House scene. The flower pot receptacle on the desk is a tea pot from Fairytale Tableware #4, and is good for 1:12.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Counter Space at MoMA

I looked everywhere for this play scale model, only to find out that it was on the main wall text only, and was not included in the exhibition!
I had the opportunity to spend some time at the exhibition Counter Space: Design + the Modern Kitchen at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City, which remains open until May 2. If you are in or near NYC in the coming months, I'd definitely recommend a visit to this visually rich, interesting, and fun installation of the evolution of the modern kitchen. There's a big design quotient here, so plenty of industrial design eye candy, as well as posters, photographs, and multimedia displays. While there is a lot of content, it is all laid out in a somewhat contained space designed both for meandering and for focused looks at all the various pieces of history. You will definitely learn something.

I did not do a linear circuit of the exhibition...perhaps it was because I was so excited to be on my own, sans the three kids, that I didn't quite know what to do with myself. Or, perhaps I was drawn to different parts of the installation for various reasons. I started with the incredible of-the-moment-looking "Frankfurt Kitchen," constructed in the late 1920s by Grete Sch├╝tte-Lihotzky for affordable housing units in Frankfurt. A recent MoMA acquisition on view for the first time, the kitchen is a minimalist lesson in organization and ergonomic ingenuity. And this was close to a century ago!

My somewhat crappy picture from the outside (you could not go in)

MoMA's much nicer one from the inside
Photo by Jonathan Muzikar
Another highlight for me was the range of posters in the exhibition that helped to highlight pre- and post-war imagery and sentiment:

The middle portion of the exhibit was devoted to design innovation in the kitchen and home, from a Dyson vacuum to vegetable peelers, to knives, to bowls, and everything in between:

I also enjoyed the inviting displays of functional objects, such as glass storage containers, salt and pepper shakers, and tea kettles...all of which would easily fit in today's kitchen:

Many drawings, photographs, brochures, and booklets helped with the context for these objects and the trends in kitchen design:

Love this graphically-strong photo by Russell Lee


Looks mini to me!

A Tupperware party! Groovy!
My last stop was the section that had photographs and other works focusing on the kitchen, or having to do with food, from the 1960s onward. Some of my favorites:

Laurie Simmons' kitchen view - in miniature!

Cindy Sherman - love her work
I have to admit that the whole time I was keeping a look out for that play scale kitchen that appears in all the ads for the show, but alas, it was only to be found on the introductory wall text!

Do visit the exhibition if you can and swing by the store too. If you can't make it to the show, the museum's website for it is filled with information, videos, resources, etc. -- have a look!

A last note: I created a Call of the Small page on Facebook as a way to keep connected to my readers -- if you are on Facebook, like me! I have a gadget on the sidebar of my blog. Thanks!

Monday, March 7, 2011

A Happy Clutter: Ladies' Home Journal

I am thrilled to share the results of some hard work and fun during some weeks in late December and early January. I hinted at something in this post, and I can now finally let you know that my photography and styling of a modern miniature interior is in the April 2011 issue of Ladies' Home Journal!

Back in late December, I was approached by Clare Lissaman, the photo director for the magazine, which, with a circulation of four million, is one of the more widely-read lifestyle publications in the U.S. She had seen my blog in the New York Times article from April 2010 and had an interesting idea for photography for an article they had planned on decluttering your home (and life). Could I create a very messy, messy interior in one of my dollhouses, and then neaten it all up? Could I come up with the concept for the room, style it, and then photograph both the messy and the neat scenes in an identical fashion? And could I complete it in a matter of weeks?

Y E S!

I felt very flattered and honored to be asked and really wanted to make the most of the opportunity. Once we had agreed that the main room in my Citadel would serve as the "set," I came up with the basic layout of the room (living area with office and small eating space), and turned to the article for inspiration. Some of the ideas that resonated with me were: use furniture such as an IKEA Expedit shelf for neat storage and display of items; select just some of your children's artwork and frame the pieces, instead of keeping every little scribble; use filing folders and other accessories to better organize your work space.

Inspired, I contacted Elisabeth Le Pla of ELF Miniatures, Doris Nathanson of minimodernistas, and Paris Renfroe of PRD Miniatures to purchase some key pieces of furniture and accessories. Each artisan worked very quickly to make and send their pieces by early January, and I set to work. I wanted to create the basics of the scenes and provide test shots to the magazine to ensure that everything was on track.

Here's a look at early iterations of the messy and neat rooms:

As you can see, my original concept was to have the messy room not have the final pieces that appear in the neat scene. The magazine thought it best to have identical pieces of furniture used in both scenes, and have their placement in the room match. In addition, I had to adjust the overall lighting, the color of the rugs, and had to photograph both scenes from the same exact angle. And the kicker: I was asked to hire a hand model to reach into the neat scene and provide a sense of scale. I hired one for an afternoon and crossed my fingers that her lovely hands would do the talking. I also worked on the lighting by putting a fixture on the roof and shining it on a board that reflected more natural light into the house.

My next efforts were more on target:

LOTS of trial and error with the hand model -- and look at all that mess above and below!
After refining the hand model pose in the neat scene, I was told to mess things up even more, and to make an exaggerated level of clutter with more clothing, shoes, papers, bags, etc. This was hard, folks, very hard, since I am used to creating more ordered scenes instead of ordered chaos! Realizing I did not have much in the way of shoes or clothing, I bought some Barbie and Liv doll accessories at Target and put them everywhere, short of hanging them from the ceiling!

The final results:

Only part of the hand model's arm made it into the final picture
I finished the job in mid-January and have been on pins and needles waiting to see the final print copy, which hits the newsstands tomorrow; here's an advance pdf with web quality -- I hope to post an actual scan soon:

The online version is here. The nice folks over at the magazine did a blog post about the back story behind the story here -- check it out!

I am incredibly pleased with the outcome and am so happy that I was able to make a contribution to the issue. I am also grateful for Clare's faith in me and in this unique concept, and I hope to work with them in the future!

A BIG THANKS to everyone who has voted for Call of the Small for Best Miniature Blog in's Readers' Choice Awards. Right now it is looking like I have a good shot at third place, but I'd appreciate your last votes today (if you haven't voted already) and tomorrow. The voting ends tomorrow, March 8. You can vote HERE. Voting is now closed.Thanks for your enthusiasm and support!

Credits: I wanted to point out the lovely artisan work used in the scenes - thank you all! Desk and Expedit shelving by ELF Miniatures; Blanca TV shelving unit by PRD Miniatures; Long and Low couch, Japanese pillows, Eames Hang-it-All, globe lamp, and green rug in office by minimodernistas; the pink sparkly high heels in the foreground are by Patrizia Santi and were won in one of her giveaways. The Eames chairs are Reac; the table is vintage German; the side tables are from Fridas Fancy. There are countless accessories in the scenes and I know I will not be able to note them all, but the majority are by Re-ment, ELF Miniatures, AG Minis, Manor House Miniatures, Barbie by Jonathan Adler, Barbie, Liv, Nancy Tobey, Peppercorn Minis, Jazams, beads and craft store finds, and Lilu Shop on Etsy.