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Magnificent Miniatures - The Careers of Susie Rogers and Kevin Mulvany

Inspiration and Technique for Grand Houses on a Small Scale

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Miniature specialists Susan Rogers and Kevin Mulvany with their version of Spencer House.

Susan Rogers and Kevin Mulvaney with the rear elevation of Spencer House in the Kathleen Savage Browning Collection at the Kentucky Gateway Museum.

Photo courtesy Mulvany and Rogers, copyright 2008 Used with Permission

Kevin Mulvany and Susie Rogers are renowned creators of historical architectural miniatures. Their long awaited book retrospective book showcases many of their magnificent rooms and buildings. Unlike other coffee table books on miniatures, it also includes technique tips and a project for creating a Versailles parquet floor.

Magnificent Miniatures, Kevin Mulvaney and Susan Rogers, Batsford Press. 2008, London UK. In the U.S. and Canada, Sterling Publishing Company, New York

ISBN-13: 978-0-7134-9059-6

Price in the USA roughly $20.00 Available in the US March 2009

Also available online directly from Mulvany & Rogers.

Quick Overview of Magnificent Miniatures

Covering more than twenty five years in the careers of Mulvany and Rogers, specialists in architectural miniatures, this book is full of large detailed photographs. Showcasing the grand exteriors and interiors the couple are most famous for, it outlines the stages and challenges they have gone through to reach the level of exacting detail and workmanship for which they are renowned.

Not only an interesting and personal glimpse at their careers, the book discusses techniques they have developed and gives suggestions for miniaturists who may want to expand their repertoire. Project instructions for a Versailles parquet floor and technique details for friezes, ornate Tudor chimneys, detailed clapboarding, and the palm trees from Spencer House (the centerpiece of the Kathleen Savage Browning Miniatures Collection) are included.

  • For Beginners: This book is full of inspiring details of both buildings and artisan furnishings with good information on how the results are achieved.
  • For Enthusiasts: Museums with miniatures at this level are rare. The book offers a detailed look at a highly specialized art form and outlines the designers' view of what sets their miniatures apart.
  • For Collectors: The book serves as a retrospective exhibit of Mulvany and Rogers to date. This is a unique glimpse at the stages of their career, the role of various collectors, and a glimpse of how specialized commissions drove their work to the level it occupies today. Also included are descriptions of the work of specialist artisans whose pieces dovetail with theirs to create the final commission.

All Is Revealed

Many books on architectural miniatures stress how important the initial drawings and sketches are to the process, but they rarely explore how those sketches are obtained from restrictive museums or how they are then transformed to a final piece which faithfully represents a much larger whole. Susan Rogers discusses freely the various processes that lead to each of the buildings featured in the book, with insights into the design, building, and collaborative processes. All is not what it first seems.

Historical background on the buildings or interiors are included, along with detailed photography of stunning furnishings by miniature artisans. Photographs of works in progress explain how the buildings are assembled and fitted.

Her welcoming voice continues as she discusses the problems of construction and finishing. The book is almost like a personal conversation around miniature architecture as a career. This makes it unique as it includes the reader instead of setting the artists apart. The discussion with the reader includes the techniques in the major chapters, which not only show what is involved in the process, but encourage the novice to explore how professionals work.

Fascinating on many levels, this is a classic book on historic miniature architecture, which showcases some of the best work in the field.

Techniques and Features

Each of the major sections in this 144 page book features a particular technique used in the creation of a notable miniature building. The feature project for the book is the parquet floor used in Versailles, but for Hampton Court Palace the technique used for the twisted brick Tudor chimneys is outlined and can easily be achieved by a careful miniaturist. For Buckingham Palace, there is an explanation of how the carved friezes are made, and for Spencer House, the palm room's gilded support columns are detailed. For those of us who build on a more local scale, there are tips on the clapboard siding created for Maine's Hamilton House.

These extra insights help to set this book apart from a coffee table retrospective. There is real acknowledgement by Mulvany and Rodgers that the steps to the highest levels are achieved with the help of those who came before. This wonderful book should serve as an inspiration to start another group of artists or craftspersons on the road towards creating more magnificent miniatures.

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