Making miniatures runs in the family for Jan Southerton – the Flower Lady. Jan first got into making miniatures around 1948, after her father built a twelfth scale village in their garden. Jan was allocated a teashop, and spent many happy hours making cakes to stock it. “No polymer clay in those days,” said Jan. “It was just good old plasticine.”
Jan then started crafts of all kinds, encouraged by her mum in needlework and dad in woodwork and gardening. But making miniatures was put on hold when she was 15, as she became an apprentice in a drawing office. Jan continued: “That’s where I developed an eye for scale, which was to prove a great help.”
In the 1970s, Jan and her new husband, Jerry moved to South Africa, and she began making sugar flowers for cakes. “A friend suggested I make some for her doll’s house, and I don’t seem to have stopped since!”
When the couple eventually returned to the UK, she discovered that doll’s house fairs were popular. So, after selling at a few, she decided to apply to Miniatura. She was surprised and delighted to be accepted. “I was so nervous to begin with. But thanks to the easy way everything is organised, it was great fun and people liked my work.”
On a day-to-day basis, Jan works in a shed in the garden with Jerry and an ever-increasing squadron of radio-controlled aircraft. She added, “The downside is balsa dust, the upside is getting help with woodwork and painting, and assistance when I superglue a flower to a finger!”
With audio books playing in the background, Jan works at least 8 hours a day, which increases to 10-12 hours before a big show. Nowadays, her flowers go all over the world, and she did many for the Leonards Lee exhibition.