Can new technologies be used to make 1st class miniatures. Alison Davies says a most definite YES.
I was introduced to the world of miniatures when I was about 17 years of age by my lovely mum who ran a small miniatures business called “lili-anne”. She created 1:12 scale miniatures food, dirty food preparation tables, sinks and a wealth of mucky stuff. I would accompany her to the many local fairs and there I gained an insight into the world of mini. Mum still does her minis – she is 83!
It wasn’t until much later in my life that I decided it was time to start my own mini business. By my late forties I decided the time was right to set up Alison Davies Miniatures. It felt like a natural progression from everything that I had learnt and experienced and loved. I put all my skill sets into one pot and did what I truly loved….ornate, decorative, French, 18th century, highly detailed miniatures.
It started as a part time business. The idea was to use new technology and apply it to 1:12 scale models recreating real life items using CAD (computer aided design). The process is technical but put simply imagine you have a ball of clay that you can squeeze and twist and pull and push. This clay is inside your computer screen and your tools are the program that helps you manipulate the ball of clay and the pen/mouse that is your modelling tool. The design is then 3D printed in 1:12 scale and then the item is moulded and cast. The whole process from CAD to the final casting, for one item, can take months depending on its complexity.
The two most important aspects to my work are to offer highly detailed designs that are affordable for my customers. There are always challenges with miniature work because the detail can be lost either in the shrinking of the design or in the moulding and casting. When the design is 12” high on your computer screen it can look wonderful but when it is shrunk down to 1” a lot of detail is lost so the design process has to consider how much detail to add and what to take away. Consideration of how the item will be printed and then moulded and cast all have to be considered at the CAD stage. I would like to say that things always go to plan…but they don’t! I have quite a few failed attempts and designs that simply didn’t work well in 1:12 scale.
I spend my days either in my office upstairs in my house or in my workshop in the garden. I love both but my workshop is the place to make things come alive. It is filled with drawers and boxes of miniatures, moulds, rubber, resins, paint brushes, glue and paints. As my collection grows I am forever trying to allocate more space to my mini models and I will, at some point, run out of room and need to expand! What I love most is when I order a new material…resin or glue or maybe paint. But my dearest love and favourite creation has to be my Folly. It has caused me all manner of sleepless nights and headaches but I love it. The whole thing was created in CAD and then 3d printed, moulded and cast. It was the most technical thing I have ever made.
Miniatures is now my full time job. I do still own a wonderful old business that I started 20 years ago but my Partner Nigel now runs this allowing me to focus just on minis. Along with the highs there are plenty of lows when running any business and miniatures is no exception. My greatest challenge at the moment is finding a way to make and produce all my designs so they are regularly available to purchase. My two hands just aren’t enough!
I love creating things and when I do have a moment to spare then my work/hobby life intertwine and I love to “fiddle” about with antique textile designs. I am currently working on a range of 1:12 scale miniature textiles based on 18th century originals. I have to admit that it is just a joy to analyse the design and look to see the marks made by the original artist 250 years ago. I hope to have some fabrics available for the online show; Pure Dupion Silk and Cotton Lawn, Velvets and fine Silk Chiffon…but this is a work in progress and a particular passion of mine that I want to be just right…the fair might be just a bit too soon – wait and see!
To see more of Alison’s work click HERE.