If you’ve ever put a little toy creature to bed in a matchbox, or had a cup of “tea” toast using the empty shell of an acorn, you’ve seen a glimpse of Sam McKechniethe miniature world of. If you find value in a scrap of discarded foil or a corner of faded but beautiful wallpaper, you might even share the artist’s world, in which, she says, “there are endless possibilities and almost anything can be turned into something else ”.
The sculptor, painter, doll designer and jewelry designer has “always loved the old,” and her London home is full of flea market finds – vintage labels of French perfume bottles, their paper backs yellowed over time but always in perfect condition for cutting projects; worn tapestries; mercury glass mirrors; and large and small dollhouses, which have fascinated McKechnie since he was a child.
The first miniature houses were not meant to be toys for young hands or imaginations: 16th century European “baby houses”, built like showcases with finely furnished rooms, were handcrafted and sported idealized decor and accessories. Wealthy matrons owned them as trophy collections, with a late 1600s Dutch creation featuring bucolic murals and moaning fireplaces with nail-sized porcelain.