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Hi, My name is Elga Koster


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Hi, my name is Elga Koster, I am a South African and live in Centurion, Gauteng, the smallest province with the highest population per square mile in South Africa and the main economic hub in Africa.

I started out with the mini hobby in 1999 and the only tools I had that stage was a jigsaw and scroll saw and I knew almost nothing about wood working. At first I build really cheap kits from a British publication that was sold in two weekly parts but as I bought books and miniature magazines the desire to build better miniatures started to grow. At first I just bought basswood sheets, ready made moldings and turned pieces to make furniture with, cutting the wood with a knife and ruler. These were busy years with two daughters in high school and a sick mom in law that lived with us for the last few years of her life and time for making miniatures were not much.

In 2010 I heard about IGMA's Guild School and that they gave out a few scholarships each year, by that time my youngest daughter was finished with school, I was looking for something to do after being a stay at home mom for more than 20 years, tried one or two things that I didn't really like or didn't work out and decided to just play with mini's for a while and not worry too much about the future. When I heard about the scholarships I was at the stage where I really wanted to learn how to work with hardwoods and proper joinery but was feeling intimidated by it all and the cost of the tools. Long story short, I applied and to my surprise and joy was awarded a scholarship to attend Guild School in 2011 which turned out to be a life changing event for me. The idea of making and selling miniatures had never crossed my mind before, but a friend in the US who thought I had potential gave me a small commission towards the end of 2010, hubby dug deep and bought a table saw and drill press and with fear and trepidation I ventured into the world of hard woods and joinery.

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The walnut desk on the left was one of the pieces that I submitted for the scholarship application, this one was made with butt joints and with no tools, I cut all the pieces with a knife and ruler, the moldings were done with sandpaper and lots of elbow grease. The piece on the right was one of my first commissioned pieces, the client wanted to put petit point in the top of the table, this was the first piece where I used proper joinery and I made one for myself as well. Sewing and embroidery is something that I started doing as a young girl and I think I got introduced to silk gauze in about 2008 and just loved it.

I kind of wanted to prove to myself that I could make decent furniture before I went to Guild School for the first time. Hmm, I am not the kind of person who think before the time whether a piece of furniture will be difficult to make or not, if I like it and want it, I make it ;). And so I decided to make two Queen Anne chairs, in hindsight probably one of the more difficult chairs to make in miniature and they sure gave me lots of nightmares, at times I thought I would never get them done, but when I boarded the plane for Guild School they were done and went with me.

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And here they are (made of cherry) together with a tilt-top table that I made of mopani (a South African wood) in 2012 and also taught as a class at one of the monthly workshops of the Academy of South African Miniaturists, a club in Johannesburg where we mostly make furniture with joinery.

I learned so much that first time at Guild School and came home very much encouraged to make miniatures full time and with another commission in my pocket.

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And this is it, a sewing table from about 1820, it has a big drawer for knitting, etc. a candle slide, a rising screen in the back, because the table was meant for writing on as well, it has a raising table top and the small drawer has compartments for ink bottles, etc. The woods used are mopani, South African yellow wood and Madagascar palissandre. Being still a beginner at this stage, this piece gave me many nightmares and I spent many long months making five of them.

Well, that is enough about me I think, I look forward to meeting old friends on this forum and making many new ones too.

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