What is a Minikin?
Standing a dimunitive four inches in height (more or less) and weighing in at less than a half-ounce, Minikins are loosely based on real characters (very loosely based). These miniature Character Art Dolls have a caricature quality that zings the strings of your heart right away. They travel in small spaces and do not require their own seat on the airplane. They're afraid of boats (being anything but waterproof) and live in dread fear of being discovered by either cat or moth. Minikins are a great way to say "I Love You" or to gift someone with a sweet break during a busy day. From our hands to their hearts . . .
Where do you get your Minikin designs?
Minikins are Little Kumquat originals! Sometimes the dolls quaintly caricature someone the we know. Sometimes they're just a figment of our imaginations. Always our own original designs and patterns. Even when we try to duplicate our popular Hercule Poirot doll, each one has its own character and personality. Similar but never the same – that's the beauty of handmade. (Two different customers have ordered 10 Poirot dolls each, all in different outfits, and just loved the fact that they were so individual in appearance.)
Who actually makes the Minikins?
Each one of these adorable Miniature Character Dolls is handcrafted in the USA by the two of us, Sarah & Elizabeth (identical twin sisters in Ohio). Never any helpers, and nothing farmed out. From the wound-wire armatures through the teeny-tiny handstitched felt clothing to the needle-felted wool heads, it's just the two of us! Sarah shapes and wraps the "bodies", needle felts and attached the heads, and occasionally makes a sheet of felt or accessory. Elizabeth does all of the design and construction from there on out, investing many hours and hundreds of tiny stitches in each Minikin. The dolls are not ready to ship until both of us have put their stamp of approval on each finished piece.
What do you use to make a Minikin?
Before going "public" with our Minikin production, we spent many hours searching for the perfect materials and mastering sewing/felting techniques. After much trial and experimentation, we've settled on a fabulous wool/rayon felt and merino wool for the needle felting and hair work. An occasional piece of bamboo/rayon felt finds it way into a place where Elizabeth wants a little more drape than wool affords. Seed beads add a nice bit of dimension to the wool, and glittery metallic thread is both Elizabeth's joy and curse on a number of the pieces. Every now and then, a piece of jeweler's wire finds it way into the accessories. Of course, it all starts out with a pipe cleaner or two. Never underestimate meager beginnings.
How do I care for my Minikin?
Like all wool items, Minikins absolutely DO NOT get along with dogs, cats, or moths! It's nothing personal, but the lovely wool is just too much for your pets (not to mention the moths) to ignore for very long. Make sure that your Minikins are kept in a protected area. A cedar-lined box or trunk makes a great hiding place. Don't leave them there too long, though, because Minikins don't like the dark very much. They like to be admired. A glass-front hutch, glass dome or shadow box are all good choices. One very special buyer even purchased a small, silk make-up bag to carry one of her dozen Poirot Minikins everywhere she goes. Minikins love to be displayed, but I urge you to live with your character for a while before deciding how it should be done. Minikins are strictly for display and should never be used as a toy.