Friday, July 1, 2022

Metal Miniatures for the Dollhouse (and almost every mini project)

 

If you are a long time miniaturist you may have used Metal Miniatures in some of your projects.  This is an actual business name (very non-descript).  The company from Illinois and has been around with the same address since the 1970s.  I have been ordering from them at least since 1976.  I use their tiny metal figurines and dishes in almost every project in some way.  If you have never used them, I think you would be interested to know they have thousands of tiny items you can paint that are very nicely scaled.  They say on their website the material is “old pewter” or “casting metal”.  I am not sure whether it has lead in it but would think you would want to paint anything you buy just to keep it sealed.

Metal Miniatures is very ‘old school’.  They have only recently put photos of their items on their website but they mostly sell wholesale to miniature shops and websites.  You can sometimes find their items on Ebay if you search “unfinished metal” in the “Dollhouse and Miniatures” category.  But they also sell directly to the consumer.  They are EXTREMELY fast in filling orders, even to the individual consumer.  If you order from their website they only take checks (no credit cards).

The Catalog - When I first started ordering from them in the 1970s they had a small pamphlet showing about 100 items.  Things such as plates, knives, cups, goblets.  Over the years they published catalogues with even more items and better photos.  They now have a few thousand items in their catalogue.  There seems to be no categorization to the items so it is very hard to find what you want.  They have some photos on the website and "picture sheets" that you can download but not all of their items are in those photos or picture sheets. 

Tip #1:  Download the order form (Excel file).  Click on the second tab called "Total List" and you can search by keyword (control + F).  The descriptions are not all in the same column but its better than no list.  I have made my own attempt at combining the item numbers into a more searchable Excel file and would suggest, if you have a little experience with Excel, that you do the same. 

Tip #2:  They don't give any measurements, so to compare similar items, use the photos on their website.  The "picture sheets" say "Actual Size" though not all items are shown on those either.

Something else I found interesting is that some of their items look like exact copies of Eugene Kupjack silver pieces.  When I see Kupjack pieces sold on Ebay, I recognize them as Metal Miniatures I have purchased – such as a filigree cake knife or ‘silver’ pitcher or gravy boat.  I don’t know the connection (its probably an interesting story) but both Kupjack and Metal Miniatures were based in Illinois so maybe Kupjack sold his original molds to them OR maybe Metal Miniatures made molds for Kupjack?  If you know the answer I would be very interested to know.

In this blog post I will share some ways I have finished, embellished and combined Metal Miniatures with other things, like microbeads to make accessories.  Metal Miniatures are sort of a dull silver color.  Its hard sometimes to even see the detail in the raw metal but when you paint them they come alive.  I will give the Metal Miniatures item number (that correlates to their website photos and order form) in case you want to try to find these specific items.

Photo #1- Metal Minis

Be sure to right click photos and "open in new tab" (depending on your browser) so you can see them enlarged!

Photo #1 (above) shows miscellaneous Metal Minis items I have painted.  You can see the dull silver item next to the finished painted one in this photo.  Some have been primed in flat white spray paint so you can see the detail without all the silver reflection.  One of my favorite items is the set of ‘Staffordshire dogs’ (#725), top row, far right.  You can even see the 3d chain detail.  I paint these dogs in several colors including pink and white for use on a shelf in a nursery. See my pink ones in this post: Window Shopping Post.  Note that some items in the photo are combined (two or more metal minis glued together).  Here are the item numbers:

Photo #1    Top Row - Item Numbers:
Urn clock (vase with handles) (also in Photo #5Item #100
Round Scalloped plate     Item #F-93
Frog on leaf (glued to above plate)  Item #C-36H
Candlesticks    Item #684 (embellished with bead caps and crystal bead drops)
Bunny Box made from these 3 items stacked and glued:

Bunny    Item # 859
Door knob (clip off knob and file flat)    Item # 111
Oval beaded frame    Item # 767
(oval box is a coiled piece of index card that has been painted)

Staffordshire Dogs    Item # 725
Frame (behind blue Staffordshire dogs)   Item # 849

Photo #1    Bottom Row - Item Numbers:
Santa mug    Item # 835
Santa cookie jar    Item # 941
Mantle Clock (tall, finial top)    Item # 934B
Tiny Bee (glued to clock)   Item # C-36E
Mantle Clock (short, arched top)    Item # 319
Tiny turtle (glued to top of short clock)   Item # C-36D
Chicken basket    Item # 24

Photo #2 - 'Majolica' Plates and Platters

Photo #2 shows some plates and platters.  To simulate Majolica (a type of antique pottery) I paint with washes of colors using photos from real pieces on the internet as a guide.  I first prime them with flat white spray paint before painting with acrylics.  I try to use a dilute wash of color so it sinks down into the cracks highlighting the design.  See the item numbers in the list below.

Photo #2 Item Numbers:   
Lg oval platter with ornate rim    Item # 47
Round Scalloped plate     Item #F-93
Frog on leaf (glued to above plate)  Item #C-36H
Pink/Yellow plates    Item #62
Round plate with berry design    Item #235
Rectangular Platter    Item #513
Pear & Pomegranate drawer pulls (rectangular platter handles)    Item #521

Photo #3 - Tiny Figurines

Photo #4 Tiny Figurines

Photos #3 & 4 - Cute little figurines - these are very tiny items to place on shelves, bookcases, etc.  I especially love the peacock and the bunny with momma – sort of looks like a Beatrix Potter figurine.  The smaller dollhouse is actually supposed to be a bookend.  You can see it on a shelf in another photo below.  The peacock has a lot of detail that comes out with a dilute wash of darker paint on top of ligher.  You can even see individual feathers.  The bigger dollhouse (back view is in Photo 3 and front view in Photo 4) actually has some molded furniture inside though very hard to see that detail.  When I painted the elephant I was trying to attempt the highly collectible Herend china figurines (could be better). 

Photos #3 & 4 - Item Numbers:   
Peacock    Item # 827
Dollhouse with interior     Item #400 B (open version)
Dollhouse Bookend  Item #M-58D
Mother Bunny & Baby    Item #C-47
Elephant    Item #368
Owl    Item #J-10

 

Photo #5 - Embellished Clocks

Photo #5 - Embellished clocks – (Large is Item #100, small is Item # 934X I think). The clock face is just paper coated with some kind of gloss paper coating.  I glued a large gold jump ring to frame the big clock face.  The large one is similar to an item sold by Brooke Tucker in the '90s.  On both I glued some punched paper flowers and leaves.  I used tiny gold microbeads in the centers of the flowers.  Entire piece including the punched flowers and leaves were painted with metallic acrylic paints and finished with gloss coat (like Glossy Accents type product for paper).

Here are a couple more photos using some Metal Miniatures (peacock, a tiny chair, dollhouse bookend).  

Tiny peacock and tiny chair in X-Acto Grandfather Clock

Owl, Dollhouse bookend in X-Acto upcycled desk

Really love these Metal Miniatures.  I think they add some needed detail -- and sometimes clutter to dollhouse rooms and displays.  Sort of gives it a lived-in look.  Thanks for stopping by!


12 comments:

  1. Thank you for posting this. They have lots of items I've been looking for.

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    1. Thank you for reading my blog. Let me know if you need to know if they carry an item and I can look it up in my 'master list'!

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  2. Your paint work is Great and I like what you've done on each of the metal minis especially the clocks!

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    1. Thank you, Elizabeth, for taking time to always comment on my work!

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  3. Hi Kendra! Thanks for all the fascinating info on metal minis! The Metal Minis link comes up as "domain for sale", so I am not sure that is what you intended to share. Just thought I better let you know.

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    1. Thanks, Jodi for letting me know about the link error. I left out the "s" of the "https". Appreciate your taking the time to let me know! Kendra

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  4. Your metal minis look fantastic! I have painting countless over the years too, and would be lost without them. Thanks for posting more ideas on how to finish them.

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    1. Thanks, Shannon for taking the time to read my blog as well as posting your own helpful hints on yours!

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  5. Hi Kendra, I love little metal miniatures for my projects, I usually buy them at The Miniature Cottage in Nashville, TN, but would have liked to have seen what their website had to offer. When I clicked the link it said that the domain was for sale and it doesn't take you to a miniatures site - boo hoo :(

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    1. Thank you, Michelle for your kind words and letting me know of the error! I have corrected the link and you should be able to find it now. Please let me know if not and I can send it to you directly.

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  6. Thank you all for your nice comments! I have corrected the link to Metal Miniatures and it should work now! So sorry for the error.

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  7. Son maravillosos tesoros. Una vez pintados no se puede imaginar que son metal.
    Un saludo

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