Old Friends

A rather neat miniature chest with a unique opening mechanism by James Hastrich.

A rather neat miniature chest with a unique opening mechanism by James Hastrich.

Even though I’ve been making and selling miniatures for 10 or more years, and collecting for a bit longer, I still feel I am relatively new to the world of miniatures. Yet, even in that decade and a half, I see that the dealers on the show circuit are in constant flux. Many incredibly talented people, who’s work I adore, have stopped attending shows. Last week, I happened to be in the neighborhood of one such couple and was fortunate enough to be able to arrange a studio visit.

LInda LaRoche and James Hastrich in Linda's studio in their house in Kennebunk, Maine.

LInda LaRoche and James Hastrich in Linda’s studio in their house in Kennebunk, Maine.

Linda LaRoche and James Hastrich, IGMA Fellow and Artisan members, respectively, are two of the top talents in miniatures. Over the years they found that doing shows became counter productive to the creative processes they so enjoyed. They decided to stop trying to figure out what would sell at a show¬†and focus instead on projects that interested them, and luckily enough, it has worked out to their satisfaction. Occasionally the project will originate from a collector’s request, at other times, from something they have seen and decided they’d like to replicate in miniature. These days they don’t necessarily work in standard dollhouse scale, having discovered that many collectors appreciate the pieces for their amazing construction and history and are not intent on fitting them into a larger scene.

A series of band boxes in graduated sizes by James Hastrich.

A series of band boxes in graduated sizes by James Hastrich.

James specializes in early American pieces with painted finishes, while Linda prefers the carving process, showing us a recently completed commission of a pair of Federal period chairs with intricately carved details. James is currently working on a Shaker tailor’s cupboard with unusual folding doors. As with many of the pieces he replicates, he sought and received special permission from the museum which owns the original¬†to photograph and take accurate measurements from it. Even his working drafts qualify as art, and the museum has requested a set of the drawings in return for granting him access.

Work in progress, James' detailed drawing of the Shaker cupboard.

Work in progress, James’ detailed drawing of the Shaker cupboard.

It was such a pleasant and inspiring visit, I couldn’t resist wrapping it up without leaving a request of my own. Maybe a holiday gift to myself?

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