Jump to content

What is your opinion as to why miniatures got so popular in the 1970's?


Member1

Recommended Posts

We all know miniatures have been around, well pretty much forever. In the 1970's there was sort of a rebirth of this hobby in the USA... My question is why?..... What is your opinion?

Thanks

Link to post
Share on other sites
Darren Thomas

I wonder if it had something to do with the fact that we had been at war for so many years prior at and the ending of the war signified a personal return to a place of re-building, creativity and expansion in an effort to move away from a time filled with destruction and hardship.

 

I heard a comment/observation recently that interest in miniatures moves in 10 year cycles and wonder if it's true... perhaps the category is on an upswing?  

 

hmmmm.....

Link to post
Share on other sites
Catherine Ronan

When I was five I loved my sisters dollhouse (she was 10 years older). It was made of wood and had pretty wallpaper and wood furniture in it. My mother got rid of it for some strange reason. I was upset, so I asked for a dollhouse for Christmas. I got one of those tin ones. The pictures and rugs were printed on the tin. You know the type. I hated it at first sight and all the plastic furniture that I got with it.

So when I walked in a miniature shop in New York in 1975 and saw what was being made... I thought WOW that is what I wanted. That is the stuff of my dreams.

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites
WeekendMiniaturist

I was in school in the 70s and 80s... so I do not have an actual perspective of miniatures in these decades... I suspect that the beginning of NAME in 1972 and later the Guild in 1978 are responsible for the organization of miniaturists and our ability to find each other.  When I joined a local miniature club in the mid 90's, the houseparties, later renamed,  conventions were a lot of fun, and large by today's standards.  I suspect based upon a few of my original charter members of my local club that the houseparties were huge and numbered in 1500+ collectors registered; this created a demand for artists' products, and... with women joining the workforce it allowed women to 'drive' the economic growth and demand of the miniature hobby in the US.  While there are always top collectors, top earners in every segment of society, it is my opinion it is the middle class that makes America's economy function at its best, and without doubt, watching people at the Chicago Show is incredible; I would love to have the opportunity to add up the numbers.  (If 5000 people attend and each person spends $300, this is a 1.5 million dollar show.)  Have you ever gone to Chicago and spent less then $300????  I don't expect an answer.... oh the laws of large numbers....  Shows, or buying opportunities in our local communities are very, very important.

 

In ours 20s we did a lot of antiquing.... we had a lot of fun hunting for treasures... so the transition to miniatures was really easy for me.  It incorporated everything that I loved; old things, new things, building, stitching, design, good taste and friends.... and most importantly the hobby captures my imagination.  Miniatures are my "happy" place.

 

When I was visiting Northwest Fabric and Crafts to buy some waverly to make some curtains, I found a dollhouse kit.... I had no idea that miniatures, as a hobby, even existed.  But I had seen a few other dollshouses owned by other women here and there, and then it kinda clicked when I discovered we had a store in the phone book - so, I set out to electrify my dollhouse.... oh what a rabbit hole, I fell in to... decades later still here.  So the local store introduced me to the miniature club... you find a miniature magazine, you go to the library and start looking at books, oh, and then the internet happened...

 

I find it amazing that my time dreaming up a miniature scene, object of affection, ie piece of furniture, a doll, a quilt, etc, etc.... is not how everyone lives across the globe....so our ability to not need to spend all of time gardening, farming or working to take care of our basic needs allows us leisure time.  I am amazed and thankful for the volunteers who have organized events, forums, that we can learn and participate in. 

 

I hope you guys are not offended... but I don't see a lot of men on the front line buying miniatures.... but I do see a lot of women buying....and thank goodness you guys are participating by building, teaching and inspiring the miniature community.... or I would have never ever considered owning all of these power tools. I think there are a lot of men enabling the women in their lives; I know my husband has mastered this enabling my hobby... I have a lot of tools because of his watchful eye.

 

Ultimately, I would credit the symbiotic relationship between organizers of events, teachers, artisans and collectors as the reason the hobby grew, add a dash of a little extra money left at the end of the month, a huge middle class, and magic happened. 

 

Tamra

Link to post
Share on other sites
Teresa layman

Miniatures are my "happy" place too. I love that I can make a place where the weeds don't grow, the laundry and dishes don't need to be washed, and everything stays happily in a moment frozen in time, but evokes so much nostalgia and memories of some time or place, real or imagined that is just right.

 

I was lucky enough to grow up in the Pacific Northwest where Noel & Pat Thomas were working their magic. I got to see, in real life, those perfectly aged, realistic miniature buildings. Just like you, Catherine, I thought the printed metal houses with the plastic furnishings were less than enchanting, but show me a miniature building where the lights were on and all the details attended to, and OH, THAT IS SO COOL!!! After seeing the Thomas' work, I was totally hooked and knew the only miniatures for me were the ones that looked like you could actually live in them, if you could just shrink down small enough. To this day, my favorite compliment is, "I want to live in there!"

 

I remember my first miniatures shows too, I was just amazed by the artisan creations... and there were so many of them! All in one place!!! There was never enough money, so I would have to choose very carefully. The internet has let us find each other more, but it's a far cry from meeting the real people who make those beautiful things at shows. I hope we don't lose that because people do all their buying on the internet to avoid hotel room costs.

 

I think the 70's and 80's saw a huge middle class in this country who could finally afford to buy things they loved because they had all they actually needed. In the 70's it only took one person's income to fully care for a house and a family of 4 or 5. Today it takes 2 incomes to care for the same family.

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites
Catherine Ronan

I think the 70's were the first time people saw true scale miniatures being made for sale rather then crude toys. Now it was possible to have an entire room (house) filled with pieces that when photographed, were indistinguishable from their 1: 1 counter parts.

Link to post
Share on other sites
Wm. R. Robertson

Interesting thoughts.......

It seems the rise in miniatures almost parallels the rise of the shopping mall....... In the 60's we had shopping centers and plazas, by the 70's they put roofs over them and called them malls....... All this was economy based.

There was also a huge growth in Hobby shops, obvious driven by demand. The Hobby culture may have been at a peak in the late 60's early 70's..... I don't know if it is just me, because I was interested in this sort of thing or what..... But think of all these things that I don't think existed in the 60's and don't exist now....

Antique shows held in shopping malls

Lots of specialty shows, model cars, trains, figures ( I guess this is now under the Comic-con sort of thing) antique toy shows, etc.

There was also a big interest in "Colonial America" as we approached 1776...... All things history were pretty cool.

As a country, we were rich, had time on our hands, the Vietnam War was over, we were not in fear the hippies would destroy the government.

Catherine brings up a good point.... Photography, it had become less complicated, faster and cheaper. Suddenly we had affordable SLR cameras with optional lens being imported, we had drug store developing...... First it was overnight, then it was 1 hour. You could now take pictures of your models and they looked so real....... In model railroading it almost became a separate part of the hobby... Just taking pictures!........ And there was Polaroid...... Remember how much fun that was?

So it wasn't just miniatures as a hobby that had a huge growth....... I guess it was everything .... From Tropical Fish to macrame...... If people were interested, specialty shops popped up, classes were taught, friends were made, money was spent, all to make feel good.

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites
miraclechicken

I agree everything was bustling back then. I could go 5 to 20 minutes in any direction (Cleveland) and be at a miniature shop. In 1980 I actually sold some pieces to a shop and that was a big turning point though nothing came of it back then, it was a turning point for me. Being a teenager in the 70's I don't really have a basis for comparison, I just grew up this way. My mom bought me all the Petite Princess furniture in 1964, then all the mini shops in the 70's, my first show in 1981 (not a dealer but I took my stuff and was at a shop's table) HMMMM now that I recall it, I was supposed to work at that shop! It was the dream job of a lifetime carving wood and making miniatures while working at the shop. The guy even knocked down a wall to make the shop bigger. Then he simply vanished.......Sometimes I think I dreamed it haha. It was Merlyn's Miniatures and his name was Bob Allbery. (SP?) In Cleveland, 1981-2. Ring any bells anyone?

Sorry to ramble, oh and yes I got my first "good" camera in 1979.

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 2 weeks later...
karincorbin

The surge in dollhouse miniatures in the 1970' was part of an national appreciation of the hand crafting movement. It actually began in the 1960's and included things such as the folk music collecting, the Appalacian crafts such as basketweaving, chair making, spoon carving, all the various fiber and textile arts including quilting and woodworking.  This was also bicentenial period so there was a resurgence of interest in the styles of houses and furnishings from early America. All the magazines of that time were filled with these things and articles on how to make things yourself and decorate you homes with them. Colonial Williamsburg and the Abbey Aldrich folk art musuem were widely featured in magazine articles because of the bicentennial and the interest in hand crafting. I know this for sure as at that time I was reading all of those articles and learning all the various crafts as well.

 

If you think about it many of the miniatures being made in that period were early American items. Lots of Salt Box houses too. Maybe you could not own a real early American home and the antiques to put it in but since everyone was hand crafting and making things then why not create it in miniature?

 

Miniatures were a very popular collectible with the general population in the 1970's. Buying old print type drawers with the divided bins, hanging them on the wall and filling them with miniatures was featured in lot of magazines and the small reproduction items in country and early American style were plentiful. Everyone wanted to go and visit an old general store. Country style and country crafts were the in thing so we saw lots of miniature general stores. Then came the Victorian craze and that really ignited a lot of dollhouse buying because of all the die cut kit houses available in that style. Of course we all know what happened when PC's became commonplace.

Link to post
Share on other sites
Teresa layman

I think Karin is right, when PCs became commonplace, all handmade craft categories suffered decline. Everything, that takes any time to create, was shoved aside to make time to spend on the "Oracle". Computers make our lives easier in some ways (and certainly more informed), but they also are incredibly seductive when it comes to offering up ideas for things to do, that following through and actually trying to do them is crowded out by the constant stream of MORE IDEAS! I have so many ideas on my Pinterest boards, for things I want to make, it would take me about a zillion years to accomplish it all! And that's if I stopped adding more pins to it right now! And then I think of  how many hours I spent accumulating all of those lovely ideas... and I only started on Pinterest about 2 months ago!!

 

It used to be that if a person wanted to find out about something, they had to actually do research... in a library... which was only as good as the library's collection. But now, with a search word and a click, you get practically all the information on any given subject that was ever thought or proven, true or false!  I was thinking of having a tagline that reads: "It may be time to stop searching and actually start creating."

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

×
×
  • Create New...