Artisans showcase inch-tall creations at miniature festival | sarasota
Kimberly Scher has admired the purity of a dollhouse since she was a little girl.
She grew up watching her mother, Patricia, design dollhouses and half-inch-tall miniatures for fun and eventually for business. Her mother started hosting her own miniature show in Philadelphia.
Scher soon realized that each enthusiast and craftsman had their own reasons for loving the craft. For his mother, it was a way of going back to his own childhood.
As for Scher, she rediscovered that passion for miniatures while raising three children — she jokes about the inherent messiness of child-rearing that made her need a sense of control.
“In my 20s and 30s, I was a single mom with four kids — my house was a disaster,” Scher said. “(Working on miniatures) was having this little space that was perfect, having this little house where everything was in place and everything was pretty.”
She’s seen the same love of miniatures she has in others time and time again at her Fun In The Sun miniatures festival in Sarasota each year.
The annual gathering brings together dozens of artisans and designers who create inch-tall figurines and recreations of homes and living spaces to sell to interested parties. These designs include human figures, animals, fantasy creations, furniture and are all done delicately and carefully over hours of work.
The show was run by designer Molly Cromwell before Scher took over the reins a few years ago. She also hosted a much larger show in Philadelphia, but sold it a few years ago, focusing on the shows she hosts in Florida.
The 2022 show, which was recently held at the Holiday Inn on East 15th Street, was a first step towards normalcy for the niche hobby. Last year’s event was canceled along with so many others across the country.
This year, about 10 vendors were on hand to show off their detailed creations.
One of them was Jacqueline Eubanks, a dollhouse maker for 45 years. Her interest in fitness started as a hobby with her young son, but eventually grew into something bigger.
She decided to go into sales and bring a number of dollhouses to her company’s show “Jacqueline’s Magical Dollhouses and Miniatures”.
Jacqueline’s niche is restoring dollhouses and filling them with period-appropriate furniture and styles rather than updating them with a modern look. She brought several of her pieces — including a complete Montana log cabin — to the show. She modeled the getaway space to have an open space reminiscent of existing log cabins.
On the other hand, she brought a dollhouse which is divided into several colorful walled rooms full of details and pets which add personality to the larger structure. Eubanks sands several of the wooden pieces, then varnishes and paints them, every little detail must be taken care of. This particular house took him six months to complete.
“There are some nice modern houses but that’s not my thing,” Eubanks said. “Mine are more traditional, it’s an art we have to keep alive. There are a lot of kids who don’t even know what a dollhouse is.”
Eubanks is drawn to the craft because of its gentleness, she finds working in homes to be a therapeutic outlet in times of high stress like the pandemic.
“It’s a great way to calm down,” Eubanks said. “You paint and wallpaper and stay in this project for two or three hours. It’s a form of meditation.”
Scher admits she didn’t have huge expectations for this year’s show, but felt it went well. She oversees another show in Orlando and she hopes to have more vendors in 2023.
“People were coming (to the show) and they were buying,” Scher said. “Next year hopefully we can get it going again.”
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