John Hodgson, a Master Craftsman in Miniature.
Sue Hodgson talks about her husband John & his incredible 45 years of miniatures & where their buisness is heading now.
It is with great sadness that I heard the news this week that John Hodgson had died suddenly last weekend. John’s is such an important name in the miniature world. He began making miniature furniture close to 50 years ago & was one of a new wave of miniaturists that made his way in the 1970’s-80’s to become a well known figure at our shows right up to 2021.
I have known John personally for probably over 20 yaears as I would buy his opulent gilt furniture for my dolls house shop in Covent Garden. Our customers loved it – it was always in demand! John was a generous & kind man & someone who always had time for a chat & a joke, a real pleasure to have at our shows.
Last year, Sue sent me a really nice write up about John’s career along with some fabulous photos. I feel it is the perfect way to tell more about him & understand why he was so important to our tiny world.
“Forty -five years is a life- time but this is the number of years John has spent working on miniature furniture. He always loved antiques, especially chairs (of which we have many). When I met him, the house had swords on the walls, suits of armour and very old and very heavy oak furniture – too heavy to lift. I did wonder if he had come from a different period -in -time!
On the arrival of our first daughter, John decided to buy a small lathe and make some furniture for her for a dolls house. They were made from mahogany and in the Chippendale style (not the usual children’s dolls house furniture). He exhibited them in a local woodworking show where they won the first prize. He was contacted by a lady, who admired them and wanted to buy the furniture for her grand-daughter. John had not anticipated selling the pieces, but was persuaded to part with a very basic dining room setting for £100. John was rather disappointed that now he would have to make them all again! Little did he know that this situation would lead to a life -time in miniature furniture with his work being exhibited around the world in Faberge stores, museums and private collections.
Originally, every piece was hand-carved from antique wood, mainly mahogany from old dining tables where the grain was very fine. He also worked in walnut. The fine detail of cross-banding, mirrored sections of veneer on the desktops of secretaire cabinets, were a beautiful feature of his work.
In 1984 John was awarded an ARMS – to be an Associate of the Royal Society of Miniature Painters, Sculptors and Gravers. His speciality was miniature portraiture, and his love for the old master style of painting.
His exhibition at Hever Castle in Kent, a nine year commission, enabled him to develop ideas in casting and moulding. Making rubber moulds from his own hand-carved masters, he was able to build the large houses and so many pieces of the furniture, some in wood, others in pewter and resin. This was a giant project for one man, but with my help (collating makers of carpets, porcelain items, silverware, figures and other required items which we did not make) he completed the huge display.
Our three daughters are now grown up and John retired three years ago, but with help from the girls, we are continuing with the business which we have loved for so many years. November 2019 was a special Kensington Show, as I exhibited together with Ruthie, our middle daughter. We have been fortunate to have met so many lovely people in this business. Meeting different exhibitors and customers from all over the world has been an inspiration to us all and a lot of fun. As John has already retired and there will come a time when I will also, I hope that the girls will enjoy doing the business as much as we have.”