Artist 03: Oiseau deNim

About a year ago, I stumbled upon a blog of the miniature clay artist Oiseau deNim. Yes, it's true, I have no immunity towards miniatures, I absolutely love them. Because of this, I spent a lot of time reading through her entire blog. I told myself that one day I would get to know this Taiwanese girl living in France, and when I do, I want to know how she made these delicate miniatures. One year later, I got my chance to talk to Oiseau deNim! She is is as lovely as her blog. Hope you enjoy!

1. Where did you grow up and where do you live now?

I was born in Taipei, Taiwan. After getting married, I moved to a small town, Nîmes, which is located in the south of France.

2. How and when did you get into making miniatures?

I started sculpturing miniatures in clay back in May, 2008. At that time all of my works were made in 1:6 scale which mostly were for my Monoko, Barbies and some other fashion dolls. It wasn't until May, 2009 that I started to unify all my works in the 1:12 scale, following the international standard of dollhouse miniatures. In 2008 before I wanted to start my first adventures in the miniature food, I really had no clear picture in my mind. I did a lot of research online, collect information and tried to find some instructors and tutorials. During my trip to Taiwan, I brought back lots of supplies and some Japan resin clay to France. Since no one gave me direction and limitations, I was able to experiment myself in the little silent world. In 2009, I realized that most part of miniature artists overseas used mainly polymer clay. Their works looked natural and beautiful. This discovery led me to fully explore the techniques of polymer clay art creation.

3. Do you do extensive plannings before working on a new series? Do you sketch the scene out before working on the miniatures?

It's really all about trial and error. I don't have any design background and I seldom do sketching or drawing before for my new series. Most part of inspiration for me comes from cookbooks and magazines which are with great color and food combination. Though I'm not that sure if I am capable to recreate these in 1:12 scale, I still purchase the books/magazines for future references. During the time of brainstorming, I would always go to my bookshelves and pick up these books/magazines as my reference. Just sometimes during the process of making a new collection, I might lose the original ideas. Once that happens, I stop the process and start another new theme then continue.

4. What are the most important materials and tools for a miniature artist?

The most important material for me is clay since it’s the base ingredient for my creation. Since the miniature world is a replica of the real life downsized to 1:6, 1:12, 1:24, 1:48 and 1:144 scales, all the material, like vinyl, metallic, acrylic, and dried flowers/ leaves are also important to the scenes I try to create. Without these accessories and textures, the miniatures and the scenes might probably lose parts of their substance. For the tools I use, I have categorized them based on the two types of clay I use. When working with resin clay, a pair of small sharp scissors, a sturdy carving tool, paint brushes and oil paint are definitely helpful. When working with polymer clay, a blade, an oven, fine paint brushes and chalks are the must haves.

5. What is the most difficult thing about making miniatures? How do you overcome these difficulties?

The most difficult thing is when I am incapable to create the right textures I want. A few things can happen, perhaps the textures of the miniature food items change while they were in the oven, perhaps the accessories and materials I'm applying to the scenes aren't exactly working, all of these happen often; it is through the process of repeated experiments, identifying the problems, researching new materials and polishing techniques that lead to accumulation of knowledge. The more you know, the faster you can troubleshoot in the future, it's really about the experience.

6. Besides making miniatures, any other fun hobbies?

I used to like cooking but I am not so into the recipe studying too much nowadays. I like photography and dabbling in Photoshop. And right now, I really want to learn some basic skills in Illustrator for packaging design. But of course, all of my drive to learn new things comes from my love for the miniature art!

7. What is miniature art to you?

Miniatures are my passion! I sincerely hope it become my profession in the future. Except clay sculpture and furniture-making, the interior design and dollhouse-building are all things I would love to try. Endless possibilities and ever-evolving world of miniatures will probably be my playground always.