Buy one of Michael Mortimer’s miniatures & you get more than a piece of furniture.
Michael Mortimer began exhibiting at the Kensington Dollshouse Festival in 2006. Each piece of his 16th Century furniture is sold with a unique & intriguing personal messages attached, a habit that started many years ago. We wanted to find out more about how Michael works & the reasons behind his hidden messages.
How did you start making miniature furniture?
I first ventured into miniatures in about 1990 and having made a couple of houses and a few bits of furniture, I exhibited at my first show a year later, quite a terrifying thought at first, but I settled in very quickly and have enjoyed attending shows ever since. It is now my full time job.
What skills do you need to create miniatures?
I think you just need a passion to create miniatures or anything else actually. Passion goes a long way along the learning curve, which I don’t think ever ends, theres always room to get better.
What inspires your work?
I take my inspiration where I can, soaking up elements in everyday life. There’s a whole world of ideas out there, that I let whirl around in my head until they form an idea. It’s then I can make a sketch and turn it into reality. I very rarely look at a reference book for ideas, I’ve Never found one that inspiring.
What is the most important thing to capture in a miniature?
I think it has to be pleasing to the eye and tactile, something that will make some someone smile and look that bit closer at it, thats the best result for me.
What is the toughest part of your work?
Coming up with new ideas. It’s the best feeling when I create something new, but the process seems to take forever. Getting the idea and converting it to a drawing, then an actual piece of furniture takes quite some time to make but once its done, it’s relatively easy to make another one. I usually only make one new design at a time but sometimes a couple roll out. I’m close to 500 designs now, some of them I’ve only made once but others countless times.
Tell us more about your secret messages.
I’ve been putting messages on my work for quite some time now, on and off since around 96, so there are a lot of messages out there! It began when I heard something, read something or just generally picked up on something that I felt too important to just overlook. I made a note of it, and before long I ended up with a pile of these things, some on scraps of paper, some in note pads, just a general random pile of phrases.
Why did you put them on your furniture?
I’m not exactly sure what prompted me to make the next step of writing them out, generally reducing them, cutting them into bite size pieces and sticking them to the backs of my furniture, but it felt right; like I’d saved them in some sort of way. They don’t always make sense to the onlooker, often because a fair amount of them have been edited down, sometimes even to a single word; a practical measure usually, just to fit them on. Not that I think it’s important that they are understandable, to me they’re fine just as they are.
What is your biggest challenge to date?
The biggest challenge is also what I like most, coming up with new designs and getting them to the finished product, as for what I’m most proud of, it’s usually my latest offering, though I did make a pulpit not so long ago that I was pretty happy with.
You can contact Michael by email firstname.lastname@example.org