Miniatura is a highly specialised visitor attraction event established in 1983 and entirely dedicated to the amazing hobby of domestic modelling in 1/12th and related scales. The 'one-inch-to-the-foot' scale, as it has always been universally known, is now complimented by other related scales, namely 1/24th [half-scale] and 1/48th [quarter scale] and even 1/144th which enables dolls' houses to fit into dolls' houses.
If you have ever thought that dolls' houses are only toys for children - think again! Dedicated dolls' house collectors are almost exclusively adults, and discerning ones at that. They regularly travel across oceans and continents to meet, place orders with, and buy from, the craftspeople who make exquisite, perfectly scaled, museum quality, models in miniature.
The hobby is believed to account for about a quarter of the traditional toy-making sector according to an analysis by the DTI and the British Toymakers Guild. There are currently in excess of four hundred independent crafts businesses making their living by creating scale model buildings and the miniatures that go into them across Britain alone. World wide the hobby is a great deal bigger with specialist craftsmen now working in most countries. Many of them have full order books, some with waiting lists of over two years, whilst others work only to commission. The majority have regular, steady, work and market their work in much the same way as do all craftsmen. The best can be seen at the Miniatura® events held twice yearly at the National Exhibition Centre.
Seeing is believing, and to see the incredible quality and intricate detail which goes into the production of each minute but almost unbelievably perfect miniature is an unforgettable experience. Surely, you may think there can be nothing special about making a miniature vase, carving a tiny oak chest, or creating a small copper kettle? OK, you try! Remember it must be exactly to scale, therefore to begin, measure a normal size item - in inches - and divide by twelve. Easy, isn't it? Did you remember to check the thickness of the edges, size of the handles, and what about the grain of the wood? Maybe you could weave a carpet? It must lie flat when finished, have a design that has been reduced in scale, and be twelve times thinner that a normal carpet. What about blowing a glass bowl, or making a pewter tankard, or even knitting a shawl or sweater? Perhaps you feel that knitting must be easy. Just find some fine pure silk sewing thread, and two pieces of fine piano wire or sewing needles and off you go, with the same number of stitches as for a full size garment of course.
Why not come along to the Spring or Autumn event at the NEC and see the wonderful work for yourself. Maybe try your hand at one of the short 'taster' workshops, watch a demonstration, talk to the talented craftsmen, see the magazines and books which can tell you so much more, and prepare to be amazed by this absorbing hobby which has changed so many peoples lives for the better since they discovered the magical Miniatura shows.
The show regularly features between 150 and 200 exhibitors at each Birmingham show. Collectors and buyers from around the world visit the shows to discuss commissions, place orders for their shops and galleries, and buy hand made miniature crafts for model houses - so maybe there is much more to Miniatura than you first imagined.