I don’t know about you, but I love tiny versions of normal sized things: miniature dogs, mini cupcakes, tiny hats, Little Sebastian, free sample spoons at ice cream shops, everything. Luckily for me and fellow miniature enthusiasts, there are people like Kerri Pajutee, who creates beautiful and realistic animals at 1:12 scale.
“I was first introduced to miniatures while attending a dollhouse miniatures show in 1987," Kerri Pajutee told us in an email. "I remember being very impressed by some of the talented miniature artisans and the detail they could achieve using polymer clay. Prior to this, I had been sculpting figures/animals in earth clays (i.e., stoneware, porcelain), which is somewhat limiting as to achieving the tiny details needed to construct a miniature, simply due to the nature of the clay. So after attending the show, I purchased some polymer clay and began to experiment with sculpting dog breeds in 1:12 scale. After becoming somewhat comfortable with the medium, I began to add the fiber coat hoping to make the pieces appear more 'realistic.'”
The process starts with wire and aluminum foil wrapped in masking tape to create the basic shape. The wire helps with limbs and the aluminum foil helps build the bulk of the body. Pajutee uses a blended polymer mix of Fimo Classic, Puppen Fimo, and/or Prosculpt. The clay is smoothed over the figure evenly and eyes made of glass or polished rounds are added before oven curing. The sculpt takes several stages and the figure makes multiple trips to the oven before the final curing.
After the final curing and cooling, an X-Acto knife is used to carve out additional details. Next the soon-to-be animal is sanded, wiped with acetone, and bathed in soap and water.
Then, after the figurine is painted with acyclic, it's time to add the fur. The coat can be made of a variety of fibers ranging from alpaca to silk. “I am what you would call a fiber hound and have hundreds of different samples, spools and hanks of various fibers in all colors/shades that I have collected over the years," Pajutee explains. "Fiber can be purchased direct from breeders, Needlepoint shops, or online such as farm website, Etsy or even Ebay.” The fiber coat is applied with tweezers, scissors and glue.
The process varies from animal to animal, but it usually takes around 8 to 14 hours. The artist generally works in 1:12 scale but sometimes she goes as small as 1:24! See this impossibly tiny golden retriever below.
Surprisingly, cats were originally the hardest to create. After a lot of practice, they became Pajutee’s favorite to make, though, and are the most common request from collectors (and just look at those wittle whiskers).
The props seen in the pictures come from a variety of places. Some come from other miniature artists, but Pajutee will also make her own if she is not able to buy what she needs.
The bad news:
You probably can’t own them. Pajutee can only produce so many figures each year, so the waitlist to order one could take years. If you are still interested, her contact page is here.
The good news:
There are hundreds of pictures of teeny tiny animals on her website in all their adorable glory. Feel free to peruse and aww. Also, if you are anywhere near Kentucky, you can find some pieces on permanent exhibit in the Kathleen Savage Browning Miniature Collection at Kentucky Gateway Museum.
If you really need to own something tiny and cute, check out this Etsy page for microscopic crocheted animals (because you didn’t realize until right now how badly you needed a tiny sloth in a plastic cube).
All images courtesy of Kerri Pajutee.