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Friday, February 20, 2015

Ten Things I Learned from Alice Zinn that Any Miniature Enthusiast Can Use -- Plus a Contest!

 By Joanna Campbell Slan

1.      Label all your storage containers. It makes locating items so much easier.
Win this basket by Alice Zinn. Go to Joanna's Facebook page for details.  and click on the GIVEAWAYS icon in bright blue under the BIG picture of Joanna.

2.      Use plastic storage containers. You never know when there will be water damage. Especially for those of us who live in Florida, this is a key. It should also cut down on the risk of mold.

3.      Surround yourself with things you love. Find unique ways to display them, as Alice did with her shelves above the doorframes.

4.      Collect fascinating containers. Many of Alice's most interesting scenes were inspired by boxes or containers that spoke to her, such as the kabuki theater that began "life" as a household shrine. She's stored more containers in her garage, where they wait for her magic touch to transform them into mini worlds.

5.      Stick to one scale at a time. That said, if you have an interesting collection in varying sizes, you might consider creating a "museum" in which to display these items. Think about it: In a real museum, you would see full-scale artifacts as well as models of the same. The sizes of the artifacts might vary, but that wouldn't be a problem because the setting around the items is always just one scale!

6.      Eschew miniature snobbery. Some of Alice's cutest pieces were found in non-traditional environments. For example, her Southwestern Storytellers were actually eraser-tips for pencils. Another storyteller doll was discovered in the gift shop section of a gas station. But taken together in a miniature Southwestern Museum, their origins don't matter one whit.

7.      Hoard cool stuff. (Like you needed permission? Seriously!) Alice found a tiny jukebox nightlight years ago. It will be a focal point in her "Piano Man" room.

8.      Embrace verisimilitude. Alice points out that real denim shrunk to the proper size for miniatures would be the same weight as silk on our bodies. And that wouldn't look right. The fabric wouldn't have enough heft. So the trick is to find the proper balance between "realistic" and "real."

9.      Fall in love and never give up. Alice couldn't afford Goebel's set of three tiny Alice in Wonderful figurines when she first saw them. Years went by, and she became a successful artist, so when presented with the chance to buy one of the figures, she did. More time passed, and she found the two remaining pieces of the set—and quickly snapped them up. Then when she was at a miniature show, a vendor was selling the empty case for the Goebel's collectibles. Voila! Now Alice has the set she originally wanted.

10.   Question everything. Rather than toss out packaging paper, the kind that has a lot of little slits in it, Alice saw the material as basketry. The tiny heart she made from a piece is truly a-ma-ZINNing!

Joanna Campbell Slan is the author of twenty-eight books, including three mystery series. She loves turning trash into treasure. She shares tutorials are on her blog You can follow her on Pinterest at

For a free sample of Joanna's work, send an email to her assistant, Sally Lippert at and request the free copy of Ink, Red, Dead, one of Joanna's mysteries.

Visit Alice Zinn at her website or see her in person at the Tom Bishop Show. For info on the show, go to


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Christine Verstraete said...

Great ideas!

Joanna Slan said...

I learned so much by observing and asking her questions. What a resource!