(Roughly) Daily

Posts Tagged ‘miniature

“Artifacts of our oldest cultures give evidence that the human race has always made things in miniature”*…



1/12th scale model of CBGB, 315 Bowery


Drawn to the often-overlooked beauty of aging structures, [artist Randy] Hage began photographing the cast iron facades in the SoHo area of New York.  He has photographed over 450 storefronts over the past 14 years, 60% of which have since closed or been torn down. Hage’s models are not only acts of preservation but a way of calling attention to what has been lost as urban renewal and gentrification displace the storeowners and residents of these communities…

Hage then works from his photos to create exquisitely-detailed miniatures…


scale model

See more of Hage’s marvelous work at “NYC Storefronts in Miniature,” and visit his website.

* Dorothy B. Thompson, Miniature Sculpture from the Athenian Agora


As we get small, we might spare a thought for miniaturist of a different sort, Michel Eyquem de Montaigne; he died on this date in 1592.  Best known during his lifetime as a statesman, Montaigne is remembered for popularizing the essay as a literary form.  His effortless merger of serious intellectual exercises with casual anecdotes and autobiography– and his massive volume Essais (translated literally as “Attempts” or “Trials”)– contain what are, to this day, some of the most widely-influential essays ever written.  Montaigne had a powerful impact on writers ever after, from Descartes, Pascal, and Rousseau, through Hazlitt, Emerson, and Nietzsche, to Zweig, Hoffer, and Asimov.  Indeed, he’s believed to have been an influence on the later works of Shakespeare.



Written by (Roughly) Daily

September 13, 2019 at 1:01 am

“The basic principle of miniatures is always clear: it is that time in making commands time in looking”*…


A portrait of Queen Elizabeth, carved on a speck of gold, framed in the eye of a needle

Graham Short, a British micro-engraver, works in miniature… extreme miniature.  In addition to the portrait of the Queen (completed to celebrate her 90th birthday on April 21), above…

Short has also inscribed a quote from Abraham Lincoln on the tip of a Civil War bullet, one from Rosa Parks on the rim of a commemorative medal, and one from Steve Jobs on a gold microchip the size of a fingertip. The piece that gave him the most battle scars are the words “Nothing is Impossible”, which he scratched along the business edge of a razor blade. He used another razor edge as a canvas for a depiction of The Last Supper

da Vinci’s The Last Supper, engraved along the edge of a razor blade

More on Short’s painstaking technique– and more examples of his work– at “Inside the studio of the ‘micro-engraver’ who works between heartbeats to keep his hand steady.”

* Robert Hughes, Time,  Jan. 28, 1980


As we get small, we might send striking birthday greetings to Victor Vasarely; he was born on this date in 1906.  Vasarely attended medical school in Hungary before giving it up to study academic painting in Paris, where he became an advertising and graphic designer, painting on the side.  His 1937 painting, Zebra, is considered one of the earliest (if not indeed the earliest) example of Op Art— a movement of which he is widely accepted as both “grandfather” and leader.

Vasarely’s Zebra



Written by (Roughly) Daily

April 9, 2016 at 1:01 am

“Miniature is one of the refuges of greatness”*…


Detail from a self-portrait by Matthias Buchinger, 1724; his hair consists of seven Psalms and the Lord’s Prayer. Click here for larger image.

Matthias Buchinger… was born without hands or feet in Nuremberg in 1674 and never grew beyond the height of twenty-nine inches. [Buchinger had phocomelia, an extremely rare congenital disorder that was in the news in the last century as it can also be caused by a pregnant mother’s use of Thalidamide, a drug then prescribed against morning sickness.] An itinerant magician, musician, writing master, and artist active in Britain and the Continent, Buchinger combined a Grub Street readiness to produce fancy illustrated documents on demand (family trees, coats of arms, wedding announcements, and the like) with a Germanic piety so that, by some wizardry, curls of hair turn into threads of minuscule sentences from the Bible, and sturdy capital letters sprout leaves and tendrils.

Buchinger died at sixty-five, having outlived three of his four wives and fathered fourteen children. His wondrous powers have been a longtime obsession of the magician and writer-savant Ricky Jay, who has collected some fifty examples of Buchinger’s baroque work, from engraved self-portraits framed with his characteristic arabesques and curlicues to spiraling texts that would fit on a thumbnail…

“Matthias Buchinger, a phocomelic.” Etching.


Read more at “Mystery in Miniature,” and see Jay’s collection on display at the Metropolitan Museum of Art through April 11.

* Gaston Bachelard


As we marvel at the minuscule, we might send dreamy birthday greetings to Buchinger’s “yang,” Colin Campbell Cooper, Jr.; he was born on this date in 1856.  A seminal American Impressionist, Cooper is perhaps best known for his paintings of skyscrapers in New York City, Philadelphia, and Chicago.

“Hudson River Waterfront, N.Y.C.”




Written by (Roughly) Daily

March 8, 2016 at 1:01 am

Pencil it in…


“I’m known as the pencil guy,” laughed Dalton Ghetti, 49. “I don’t mind that at all.”

The Bridgeport artist creates impossibly detailed miniature sculptures on the tip of a pencil.

He shuns a magnifying glass and uses simple tools like razor blades and needles to create delicate little figures – from a tiny, jagged handsaw to a minibust of Elvis in shades…

Readers can find the full, photo-laced story in The NY Daily News (and more in The [U.K.] Daily Mail); and readers in the Northeast can see the Brazilian-born carver’s work at the New Britain Museum of American Art, as part of its “Meticulous Masterpieces” exhibit, through this Sunday.

(Many thanks to reader PL.)


As we ponder altogether new meanings for “sharpen my pencil,” we might recall that it was on this date in 1940, at the New York World’s Fair, that the world’ first Parachute Wedding was conducted.  Arno Rudolphi and Ann Hayward, were married on the Parachute Jump, a 26-story high ride created for the World’s Fair (though now working on Coney Island). The entire wedding party– minister, bride, groom, best man, maid of honor & four musicians– was suspended aloft until the newlyweds completed their vows.

The Parachute Jump in operation at the World’s Fair

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