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Ten Tiny Treasures: Artists and Their Miniatures

Art of all kinds gives us pleasure, but when it is scaled down to miniscule sizes, it impresses us with the increased difficulty factor. Besides that, tiny artworks are more accessible and downright cute!

1. Microchip Paintings

Kansas artist Yuri Zupancic doesn't limit his work to miniatures, but his paintings on microchips make a statement of merging artistic efforts with modern technology. The painting pictured is one inch square!

2. Urban Sculptures

New York artist Alan Wolfson creates miniature scenes of complete buildings or even city blocks that evoke the feeling of their real-life inspirations, most of them without copying any actual place. The miniature pictured, Follies Burlesk, is from 1987 and was inspired by an old photograph of Times Square in the 1950s.

3. Parallel Worlds

Ji Lee is a New York artist by way of South Korea and Brazil. He created miniature rooms of furniture and installed them on ceilings for his project Parallel World. Lee's scenes include an art gallery, a tiny living room, a little office space, and one that includes R2D2 and a hippo!

4. Frida Kahlo Dollhouse

Cuban-American artist Elsa Mora created this lovely miniature dollhouse featuring artist Frida Kahlo. You can see pictures of the details, as well as a similar work called Frida Kahlo’s Studio and other dollhouse projects in her dollhouse gallery.

5. Working Weapons

French engineer and craftsman Michel Lefaivre makes working weapons in miniscule sizes. When Lefaivre retired in 2000, he combined his fascination with miniatures with his experience in the arms industry. This miniature 1916 Navy Luger is 2/5 scale and will shoot 2.7mm Kolibri cartridges, the smallest ammo available.

6. Tiny Worlds in Bottles

Tokyo artist Akinobu Izumi makes very small miniatures inside small bottles and glass domes that you can purchase at his Etsy shop. This bottle has a tiny soccer game inside, with players only 3 millimeters tall! Most of the bottled figures (dinosaurs, sea creatures, and scenes) are made of paper.

7. Riot in a Jam Jar

Jimmy Cauty is best known as a musician, formerly of KLF. He is also a multimedia artist. Last month Cauty's miniature project Riot in a Jam Jar was exhibited at L-13 Gallery in London. The works feature intricate scenes of riots, such as the Greenpeace demonstration pictured, under glass.

8. The World's Smallest Postal Service

Artist Lea Redmond creates and sells many kinds of miniatures through her workshop Leafcutter Designs. One project is the World's Smallest Post Service. This is a service that sends your letters and tiny packages to a recipient of your choice.

9. World's Smallest Aquarium

Russian miniature artist Anatoly Konenko is known for his tiny books, but he made the news this year for his extremely small working aquarium. It only holds two teaspoons of water, but Konenko has Danios fish in it. He even has a tiny air pump for the aquarium.

10. Murder Scenes

Forensic scientist Frances Glessner Lee made a series of miniature dioramas of real murder scenes in the 1930s and '40s for detectives to use in investigating those murders. The 3D models gave them a new angle, so to speak, that photographs could not. Lee's profession was police work, but her hobbies involved dolls and dollhouses. See more photographs of her work at Visible Proofs.

See also: Dungeons and Dollhouses and 8 Marvelous Miniatures

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Pop Chart Lab
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A Visual History of Captain America’s Shields
Pop Chart Lab
Pop Chart Lab

Captain America has gone through plenty of wardrobe changes since his comic book debut in 1941, but it’s his iconic shield that has had the most makeovers. Over the past eight decades, fans have seen the shield change its shape, color, and even the material from which it’s crafted. For the folks at Pop Chart Lab, the shield’s storied history provided the perfect subject matter for their latest poster.

On this piece, the company teamed with Marvel to give a rundown of 50 of Cap’s shields—from the instantly recognizable to the downright obscure. Here we see his classic Golden Age shield, with its slightly different color scheme, and the different variations from Jack Kirby’s time-traveling Bicentennial Battles book. Then there are entries like the vibranium shield he received from Black Panther in Captain America #342 and an adamantium one made by Tony Stark.

Those different shields just scratch the surface of the deep cuts Pop Chart Lab provides. There are also shields from Captain Americas across Marvel’s numerous alternate universes, like the ones used by the Ultimate Universe Steve Rogers and the android Cap from Earth-725.

Each shield is illustrated to match its comic book counterpart and comes with a description specifying the series it debuted in and which Earth it exists on (the Marvel Universe has thousands of different versions of Earth, after all).

The posters will begin shipping on May 23, and you can pre-order yours now starting at $29 on the Pop Chart Lab website. You can check out a full look at the poster below.

Pop Chart Lab's Captain America shield poster
Pop Chart Lab
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Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons
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5 Fast Facts About Tamara de Lempicka
Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons
Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons

Sometimes artists become more known among the general public for their colorful personal lives than for their artwork, no matter how great their contributions to the art world. Such is the case with Polish/American artist Tamara de Lempicka, who was born on this day in 1898. While Google is honoring what would have been her 120th birthday with a Google Doodle,  here are some highlights from her storied life.

1. SHE BEGAN HER "CAREER" AT THE AGE OF 12.

Tamara de Lempicka, who was born Maria Górska, discovered her artistic passion and skill at the age of 12. Lempicka had sat for a famous painter, but hated the resulting portrait, and believed she could do a better job. Thus she created her first painting ever, a portrait of her younger sister Adrienne, with which she was extremely pleased.

2. SHE MET HER HUSBAND WHEN SHE WAS 14 YEARS OLD.

Though she was only 14 years old when she met Taduesz Lempicki, the teenaged Lempicka became determined to marry him. Just a few years later, when she was 17 years old, she married the "modestly well-off lawyer" with a dowry provided by her "millionaire banker uncle." (She hadn't lived with her parents since they divorced when she was a child.)

3. SHE'S MORE FAMOUS FOR HER SEX LIFE THAN HER ART.

 Gallery technicians at Sotheby's auction house lift a painting by Tamara de Lempicka entitled 'Portrait de la Duchesse de la Salle' from 1925, next to another painting by the artist, 'Portrait de Marjorie Ferry' from 1932
Oli Scarff, Getty Images

Although she is considered the most famous Art Deco painter, Lempicka was more famous for her libido than for her art. She was bisexual, and carried on scandalous affairs with both men and women (often her patrons and models). Yet the exact details are somewhat unclear since, according to one source, she "shuffled the facts of her biography as much as she meddled with her birth date"—and she meddled with her birth date quite a bit, even going so far as to reportedly try to pass her daughter off as her sister on occasion.

4. SHE LIVED A LIFE OF LUXURY.

Lempicka lived a life of luxury from childhood. Not only was she born into a wealthy family, her second husband was Baron Kuffner, a wealthy Hungarian baron who had been her patron and lover. Although she initially lost money in 1929 when her bank collapsed, she survived the Great Depression relatively unaffected, painting the portraits of King Alfonso XIII of Spain and Queen Elizabeth of Greece during that time. She had been charging as much as 50,000 French francs per portrait by 1927, which was equivalent to about $2000 then, but would be about 10 times as much today.

5. HER ASHES WERE SCATTERED OVER A VOLCANO.

In 1980, Lempicka passed away in Mexico. Per her request, Lempicka's ashes were scattered over the crater of the volcanic Mount Popocatepetl by her daughter, Kizette.

An earlier version of this post appeared in 2008.

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