Tuesday, 14 July 2015

Laura Brownhill - Away With The Fairies

Hi everyone, Hope you're having a good day.

Today we're about to meet Laura Brownhill.  Her work is amazing and she's completely self taught and her work for me, just takes you back to years gone by, that's the feeling it gives me.

So what does Laura do?

Laura makes miniatures, the most amazingly detailed miniatures, that remind me of books I read as a child.  Stories of children running around the countryside filling their days with fishing in the stream, running in the fields and going home to homemade cake and bread and homemade jam and Lemonade. What can I say I read a lot of Enid Blyton when I was little.

I love that I look at Laura's work and I get that idealic feeling.  That makes me happy. Anyway, enough with the fictional nostalgia lets meet the lovely Laura ...

Laura is very much inspired by nature, that much is very clear and spends a lot of time outdoors, it's where a lot of her inspiration comes from.
Her miniatures also get some of their inspiration from Taxidermy and Entomology... like this tiny butterfly case.  Laura's work is made from Polymer Clay.

Isn't that little diorama beautiful, so much detail, I feel you would go into Laura's studio and just spend hours discovering and ooohing and aaahhing!

The pictures of the Fishing and Butterfly Jars above give you an idea of the size perspective.  Laura often works in 1/12 size, which is one of the standard sizes for dolls house miniatures.

Something else that sparks that nostalgia, are these little Blue Tits stealing the cream from the top of the milk bottles.
It brings back memories of getting the milk in off the doorstep and the memory that's triggered is it being a foggy morning, the smell of the dampness in the air.

I love the note in the milk bottle... I'm not sure how many other Countries in the world have their milk delivered in the morning on the doorstep, in glass bottles.  It's becoming less and less here in the UK but it was how we used to get our milk every day.  The tops of the bottles were a little thin foil cap that the birds used be able to peck open to get to the cream (Skimmed milk was hardly used back then so the cream used to rise to the top of the bottle)

Just look at the size of those little birds!  The patience that Laura and everyone else who makes miniatures must have is incredible.

Magnifying Glass

I love this little Mandrake in a glass bottle which is actually an ingredient in love potion below 

As any Harry Potter fan knows you must wear ear mufflers when dealing with Mandrake!
The perspective with the English 5p piece (our smallest coin approx 15-18mm) just shows how much tiny detail there is, one of the birds has a snail shell in it's beak (don't worry the snail got away!).  

How pretty are the little watercolour nature books below.

A couple more pictures and then we'll have a chat with Laura and I will link all Laura's social media sites below so you can go and check out more of her incredible work. The first is a picture of some tiny snails! (resisting the urge to call them cute, I'm quite impressed I haven't used the word cute once while looking at Laura's work - that was my goal!) and the second is a beautiful miniature wedding cake with butterflies on.

So Laura has been kind enough to answer my questions:

Hello, please introduce yourself..

Hi I'm Laura, 23, and I live in the beautiful countryside in Staffordshire, England.

Tell us about your art now and what you do

I am a self employed miniaturist specialising in 1/12th scale dollshouse miniatures. I really enjoy making miniature birds and butterflies as I am largely inspired by the natural world, particularly British wildlife. I also make taxidermy birds under domes and in display cases. 

What is your earliest creative memory?

Apart from drawing all over the bedroom walls, that would be painting tiny miniature cardboard plates with my sister for our dollshouse. When we were a little older we also made a few miniature cakes out of polymer clay.  I was introduced into the miniature world from a small age as my grandparents have a dollshouse miniature business called Country Treasures.

What is your favourite medium

I love working with Fimo which is a type of polymer clay I use to sculpt my miniature work. I have also just discovered Fimo Professional which is even better to get extra detail. Once I have sculpted my work I cook the clay in a small toaster oven to harden it and then individually hand-paint my items with watercolours.

Do you ever suffer from a creative block and if so how do you get yourself out of it?

When I work in my studio for long periods of time (usually before a dollshouse miniature fair) I do get the occasional block. To get around this I take a step back from my work and indulge myself in nature by walking outside and listening to the bird song. All my work is heavy influenced by the natural world around me and after going for a long walk, or a weekend hiking then I return to my desk overflowing with ideas and inspiration. Sometimes if I can not get to my desk for a while my fingers almost feel like there itching to be making something!!

Who inspires you?

My grandparents are my biggest inspiration as they have been making wonderful dollshouse miniatures for over 30 years! I believe if it was not for their influence and guidance, I would not have persisted and developed the skills I have today. Also all the wonderful people who comment on my work are a big inspiration and encourage me to keep doing what I'm doing- Thank you lovely people!! 

What is your favourite piece of work that you've created?

My favourite is my taxidermy Thrush in a display case which is surrounded by broken bits of snail shell where it has been smashing them against the rock to get to the juicy snail inside. If you look closer you can see a small bit of shell in his beak and a very lucky escapee snail crawling around. I also really enjoy making my little butterflies in jam jars as these were the first nature inspired miniatures I ever made, and I can still remember catching butterflies in the garden when I was little. 

What are your creative ambitions for the future?

To improve my skills in making birds, I eventually want to make realistic birds with their wings spread in flight or larger birds of prey. I want to inspire more young people to enjoy and collect dollshouse miniatures as they are so exquisite and interesting. My dream would be to continue my grandparents business Country Treasures so all there hard-work over the past 30 years is continued and enhanced.

How do you silence your inner critic ?

I don't, otherwise I would never improve on my work! When I made my very first miniature bird in November 2013 (a little Christmas Robin) it didn't even have a tail! Just a little squashed bit of clay made to look like one. Over the years I have criticised and improved my work to the standard you see today, and even now I am still looking for ways to improve it.

What do you do when you're not being creative?

If I'm not being creative then I am inspiring myself with the natural world as I love walking and spending time outdoors. When I'm not doing this I'm catching up with my friends or watching my parents band Radio Mary play at the local pubs and festivals. I'm also a bit of a folk music lover and if anyone is going to Sidmouth Folk Week - I shall see you there!

What would be your 3 desert island craft/art items

A little hacksaw, hammer and nails. I would spend my time exploring the natural resources on the island and making lovely little fairy houses and miniature furniture out of anything I could get my hands on.

Finally please tell us where we can find your work and your social media sites.

I currently sell my work with my grandparents at dollshouse/miniature fairs around the UK. To see where we are at please visit

Twitter: @LauraBrownhill

Please get in contact if you want to find out more about me and my work!

I love looking at people's creations especially those that evoke a memory or make me feel something. Laura's work does exactly that.

I also love the name 'Away with the Fairies' I have an affinity with that saying!

Please check out Laura's family website as Laura has said miniatures are a family tradition for her and there is some incredible work on there.

Laura, it's been a pleasure getting to know your work.. I hope that you continue to have success in the future and fulfil all of your ambitions because your hard work and dedication is worthy of it.  

YES! made it through without saying cute! (apart from to say that I've not actually referred to anything as cute! because let's face it - it's all......)

(all Laura's pictures were used with her permission)

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