MMA hosts miniature makers

CASTINE, ME (WABI)- Handmade furniture, glassware and more is on display at Maine Maritime Academy in Castine this week.

The entire exhibit barely takes up one corner of the gymnasium.

That's because all of the pieces are measured in inches.

Joy Hollowell introduces us to the International Guild of Miniature Artisans.

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It takes a lot of time and talent to create the works of art on display this week in the Smith Gymnasium at Maine Maritime Academy. The intricacy of the items are impressive not just because of their design, but because all of the pieces are 1/112th to 1/144th the size of their original models.

"The rug was the inspiration for the room," says Susan Farnik, standing beside her Camden Tea Garden Room exhibit. "It too two years of my life to stitch it. There's 48 holes per inch to stitch."

That equates to 255,535 stitches in case you were wondering. Farnik has been molding midget replicas since the early 1980s.

"I had always wanted a doll house when I was a child and didn't have one. And so there was a local miniature shop that offered classes."

Farnik grew up to become an interior designer. That eye for detail is still there, it's just diminutive.

"That's always a goal," says Farnik, "if you take a picture of it, you can't tell that it's miniature."

Carey Butterfield's father, Don brought the International Guild of Miniature Artisans to Castine 37 years ago.

"There were probably four, five or six instructors, 20 students maybe," he says. "And it's grown into some 35 instructors, 200 students and they just teach everything in small scale miniatures."

"This is also an international operation," adds Pete Boorum, an instructor at the Guild School. "There's a lot of people from outside the country who teach and a lot of people who come here."

Some are new, most are returning. All have a passion for pint-sized pieces, as well as lots of magnifying glasses.

"Well, you gotta be able to see," says Boorum with a chuckle, "that's pretty important."

No surprise, it takes a scaled down saw and other machinery to create these itsy-bitsy items. Most are made from cherry wood for its quality.

"We've got probably 60 lathes, and we've got maybe 25 table saws and a whole variety of other pieces of equipment," says Boorum. All are stored at MMA.

The Guild School at Maine Maritime Academy offers 46 miniature making classes covering everything from wood working to silver sculpture.

"Everything you can do in real life, you can do in miniatures," says Boorum.
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Classes for the Guild School are full, but folks are invited to view the miniature replicas on display at Maine Maritime Academy.

The free exhibit is open tomorrow through Friday from 9 a.m. until Noon in the Smith Gymnasium on the Castine campus.

For more information on the Guild School, IGMA, log onto http://igma.org/