“I didn’t really set out with the intention of making miniatures. They just turned out that way,” says artist Caroline Dewison of A House of Wonders. For several years, the Warrington, England-based artist experimented with beads and clay to make small sculptures, but she was never quite satisfied. “It began with making little mossy patches on clay pieces, sourcing materials I found in model railway layouts, which I immediately fell in love with,” she says. “Seeing how others recreated such realistic scenes was really inspiring, so I bought some scenery supplies, and the ideas just grew.”
Small enough to hold in the palm of your hand, Dewison’s vistas open up far into the distance. Inspired by the woodlands around her home and holiday walks through the Lake District, the artist began to recreate mystical scenes of streams, shorelines, and hills. “The natural world has always filled me with a sense of wonder,” she says. “I grew up in the days where you could disappear all day as long as you were home for tea, and I spent a lot of my time exploring the woods and fields near our house.”
Using Jesmonite—a mixture of gypsum and water-based acrylic resin—to fashion frames, plus a lightweight MDF for the backgrounds, Dewison sources a range of small boxes, model-making supplies, and acrylic paints to create each intricate scene. For landscapes, she particularly enjoys using a type of clay that melds the malleability of clay with the strength of epoxy, plus a favorite 3D-printing pen. “I’m amazed at the fact you can just press a button and magic something out of thin air,” she says.
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