Growing a Small Business: The Myth of Failure

I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” – Thomas A. Edison

Did you ever feel like you’ve just wasted a full day (or a week or a month) trying things that didn’t pan out? As someone trying to grow a small business,I feel that way pretty often. I get an idea or inspiration that launches a frenzy of activity. I feel inspired and energetic, certain that I’ve hit upon the thing I had been missing–that turning point, Eureka moment, or flash of insight that’s going to propel my business forward. I’ll go from fledgling startup to overnight success story! I’ll acquire a new set of “problems”– like how to fill orders fast enough or respond to the many queries stacking up in my Instagram account.

In reality, most ideas result in modest process improvements or slight upticks in sales, or fizzle out entirely. The energy and inspiration I felt in the beginning starts to wane as I go down various rabbit holes of investigation. I become intimidated by the competition or overwhelmed by the logistics of following through and end up retreating to my comfort zone. Then comes the realization that I’ve spent the better part of a week pursuing a lost cause and am wasting precious time–and panic sets in. The whole process usually ends with doubling down on what I was already doing, because at least it got me this far, right?

Missteps Essential to Discovery

The cycle can be depressing. However, what is the entrepreneurial process about if not trying new things? All the business gurus tell us that we have to fail to succeed. When you really think about it, “failure” is a misnomer. As Thomas Edison says in the quote above, failing is essential to the process of discovery. There’s value in knowing something doesn’t work. According to The Franklin Institute, between 1878-1880, Edison worked on at least 3,000 different theories to develop an efficient incandescent lamp. He never became hopeless or discouraged, although many of his associates and assistants would happily have thrown in the towel. It’s no wonder that the lightbulb has become a universal symbol for ideas and invention.

Trying new things doesn’t always turn out as we plan or hope but it’s almost always better than doing nothing, and it can yield unexpected benefits. At the very least, we will learn or experience something new. Better, that new lesson or experience might trigger a solution to a completely different problem–one we never otherwise would have solved or perhaps even tackled. We may “fail” to achieve whatever we initially sought but discover something potentially more valuable in the process.

Mistakes That Triggered Famous Inventions

History is ripe with such examples. Storypick’s list of 10 world-altering inventions that were made by mistake includes penicillin, the microwave oven, and X-ray images. A New York Times obituary of Wilson Greatbatch, inventor of the pacemaker, relays that Greatbatch’s crucial insight came while he was an assistant professor working on a heart rhythm recording device. He reached into a box of parts for a resistor to complete the circuitry and pulled out the wrong size. When he installed it, the circuit emitted electrical impulses very similar to the rhythm of a human heart. The realization launched him on a path that eventually led to the first implantable pacemaker device.

I don’t expect my ideas will ever change the world but I find these stories helpful in staying focused and motivated. Things change or improve when we take action. I sometimes find myself getting into a negative frame of mind, wondering, “when is something good going to happen to me?” Those kinds of thoughts lead nowhere. Nothing good (or bad) happens as long as I go along accepting the status quo–which is something I rejected when I started this business in the first place. “Nothin’ from nothin’ leaves nothin”, as the old song goes.

Wise Words for Inspiration

Below are a few more quotes from successful people that I find inspirational in times of doubt (find more on WisdomQuotes). Keep trying until you find what works!

  • Failure is simply an opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently.” Henry Ford
  • I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.” -Michael Jordan
  • Mistakes are the portals of discovery.” – James Joyce
  • Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new.” – Albert Einstein
  • The only real failure in life is not to be true to the best one knowsBuddha

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Thoughts on Boredom: The Upside of Having Down Time

Thoughts on Boredom

Maybe having nothing to do when we were kids wasn’t so bad

An article in the New York Times last week makes some excellent points about the up side of down time when you’re a kid. “Boredom teaches us that life isn’t a parade of amusements. More important, it spawns creativity and self-sufficiency,” writes Pamela Paul, editor of NYT’s Book Review. Just a few decades ago, parents were likely to say, “clean your room” or “go play outside” when their kids moaned about having nothing to do. But today, “subjecting a child to such inactivity is viewed as a dereliction of parental duty,” notes Paul. The modern conscientious parent fills their child’s schedule with enriching extracurricular activities, whether they like it or not.

The article took me back to my own childhood in the 1970s. During the summers, in particular, we spent many full days with nothing particular to do, and no suggestions or guidance forthcoming from our parents. We often complained of being bored, but in retrospect there were benefits. No one was planning our days so we had to come up with our own ideas. I read for hours a day, planned daylong hikes or bike rides with my friends (we were only about age 9-10 but there was never any talk of parents coming along), built elaborate forts with blankets, among other pursuits. Sometimes I read huge piles of “Archie” comics or just sat around daydreaming. Complaining to my Mom was a last resort–she could always come up with a bunch of household chores (none of which were particularly intellectually enriching or likely to help me get into a good college).

Interestingly, my parents had a book called “What to Do When There’s Nothing to Do.” I don’t really remember what was in it, or whether I ever followed any of its advice. But it inspired hope that someone had answers, and it was such a great title!

Famous Birthdays

James Joyce photo Portrait of the Artist

James Joyce. (b. Feb 2, 1882 – d. 1941). A sentimental favorite of mine. As an English major in college, I took a yearlong seminar on Ulysses where we read the entire tome aloud in class. At the end, we had to select one page as the topic for a 20-page paper. I developed a true appreciation for Joyce’s genius and am forever thankful to that professor for making us read the whole thing (I may never have done so otherwise). I also loved Dubliners and  Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (However, have never been able to get through Finnegan’s Wake...)

Langston Hughes

Langston Hughes (b. Feb. 1, 1902 – d. 1967). Born in Joplin, Mo., this influential American poet had a major influence on shaping the Harlem Renaissance in the 1920s, according to his bio on poets.org. Unlike many of his contemporaries who were writing obscure, esoteric verses, Hughes poetry was unabashedly for the people: “He wanted to tell the stories of his people in ways that reflected their actual culture, including both their suffering and their love of music, laughter, and language itself.” You can link to his poems here. I like this excerpt from “Dreams:”

Hold fast to dreams
For if dreams die
Life is a broken-winged bird
That cannot fly

Word of the Week

Coronal – a crown or garland. Originating in late Middle English, it’s also used in anatomy in relation to the crown area of the head, including the coronal plane and cornea of the eye. Here’s a sentence from Joyce’s Ulysses: “He encircled his gadding hair with a coronal of vine leaves, smiling at Vincent.”

Other Items of Interest

  • The New York Times published a photo feature about the history of ice skating in Central Park. I love the one of two sisters skating while eating ice cream cones at Wollman Rink in 1956 (I think I used to own a hat like the ones they’re wearing).
  • Flying squirrels can turn hot pink under ultraviolet light. No one knows yet exactly why but it’s a very cool thing to see!
  • Winterlude is in full swing in Ottawa, Ontario. The annual Canadian festival, which occurs during the first two weeks of February, features an international ice Carving competition and skating along the 4.8-mile Rideau Canal.
Winterlude Ottawa skaters on Rideau Canal
Skaters on Ottawa’s Rideau Canal (photo from Pinterest)

Weekly Web Roundup

6 links worth checking out this week

  • This week in history: Edouard Manet, a pioneer in the Impressionist movement, was born on Jan. 23, 1832. Quite controversial in his day, the painter ignited a public uproar with his depictions of nude women in “indecent” poses. Also of note: He married his former piano teacher, Suzanne, who previously had a child out of wedlock–possibly fathered by Edouard’s brother.
  • Pulitzer prize-winning poet Mary Oliver died this month at the age of 83. She was “a phenomenon,” says the NY Times obituary, “a poet whose work sold strongly.” I like the opening lines of this winter poem: In winter / all the singing is in / the tops of the trees. You can read more of her work here.
  • Intriguing quote from an article about Tibetan sand mandalas: “it is truly a metaphor for human life…nothing and no one ever truly dies but just changes, growing at the same pace as the universe.” (From Ancient History Encyclopedia).
  • What would an ad for FaceBook or Twitter look like if it ran in the 1950s? The ad agency MaxiMedia has some interesting ideas.
  • The first frisbee was introduced on Jan. 23, 1957, in Bridgeport, CT. Partners Walter Frederick Morrison and Warren Franscioni got the idea from watching college students play with pie tins–they went onto produce a more durable plastic version dubbed the Flying Saucer. The toy company WHAM-O bought them out in 1958 and changed the name to Frisbee.
  • In the 1960s and ’70s, all the cool kids wanted an Ericofon, created by the Ericsson Company of Sweden. It was the first commercially marketed telephone to incorporate the dial and handset into a single unit, according to Vintage Everyday (which has some very cool photos.)

That’s it for this week! Hope you enjoyed these links. Subscribe if you’d like to receive these posts in your inbox every Friday, along with highlights of our latest listings in FindzShop.

Antique Lamps: A few fun facts

New technology, classic designs

Home lighting has changed dramatically over the centuries as advancing technology allowed for a dizzying array of options. However, earlier classic designs remain very popular today. For example, electric table lamps from the Art Nouveau and Art Deco periods featuring painted glass shades, dangling crystals, marble, alabaster, and gilded metals remain highly desirable. Of course, the history of lighting begins long before the invention of electricity…

The First Fuel: Animal Fat

Here are a few fun facts from lighting’s storied timeline:

antique oil lamp
A major advance: portable,
reusable oil lamps.
  • The first “lamps” date to around 70,000 BC., according to a post by Mayfair Gallery, made from hollowed out shells or rock. These early vessels were lit by sprinkling animal fat over a base of dried wood and grass.
  • Olive oil, beeswax, fish oil, whale oil, sesame oil, and nut oil used as fuels until the late 18th century, according to ThoughtCo.
  • The 18th century heralded the introduction of glass, crystal and mirrors. Bohemian and Venetian glass makers, on the island of Murano and elsewhere, produced some of the finest pieces.
  • Only the very rich could afford to try electric lighting after Thomas Edison invented the incandescent bulb in 1879. According to Mayfair Gallery,  a single light bulb required a personal home generator to run and cost the same as an average week’s wages.
  • Many Art Deco lamps were openly erotic, inspired by the showgirl culture of the Moulin Rouge in the Montmartre district of Paris, according to Collectors Weekly.
  • Fairy lamps–candle-burning lights made popular in the Victorian era by candlemaker Samuel Clarke–inspired a loyal following as well as a dedicated fan club formed in 1996. (The Fairy Lamp Club)
Vintage crystal chandelier
Fire Hazard? Antique chandeliers lit by candles.

Browse Our Latest Listings

We’ve got some great early electric lamps listed in our shop. Browse through when you get a chance. Thanks for reading! Subscribe to get our e-newsletter delivered to your inbox every Friday. Browse our Shop. Find us on eBay and Etsy

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FindzShop’s Vintage Holiday Gift Guide

In this year’s gift guide: unique vintage art, collectibles, jewelry, and more!

Antiques and collectibles make perfect gifts, particularly for the most important or hard-to-buy-for people on your list. These gifts say that you care enough to  venture outside the mainstream big-box stores and giant online retailers to find something a little more unique and personal. It’s virtually guaranteed that the recipient of a vintage gift has not received (or even seen) another quite like it. Give them something that they never would have bought for themselves but that instantly becomes a treasured possession.

Just about everything in our shop falls into this category. All of our vintage and antique listings are individually hand-selected, and no two are exactly alike. The following holiday gift guide features some of our favorite current listings in popular categories like art, collectibles, and jewelry. Browse through for ideas! If you’re a first-time buyer at FindzShop, make sure to use coupon code TAKE25 at checkout for 25% off any order of $20 or more (click on captions to see listing details).

Vintage Prints & Posters

Unique Collectibles

Vintage Jewelry for Her

Gift ideas for Men

Can’t decide? We have Gift Cards!

You can never go wrong with a gift card. Plenty of choices and no time limit to decide. Purchase in multiples of 10 from $10-$100. 

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The Art of Vintage Theater Posters

Recently, we acquired a small trove of  theater posters from the early 1900s. It’s one of my favorite types of finds! The colors and designs are exceptional especially when you consider that the artists generally had no expectation of recognition or fame. These promotional posters were made to draw people into the theater and might have spent weeks or months tacked to a wall before being casually torn down. Fortunately for those of us who love this type of art some of the best examples from that era escaped the trash heap.

 As a result, it’s now possible to find a hundred-year-old paper poster in amazingly sound condition. Many have tears and creases around the edges and evidence of a few repairs, but the colors, images, and words are clear. You barely notice the wear after they have been framed. 

Who was Robert J. Sherman?

Many of the posters from our recent acquisition were created to advertise the plays of Robert J. Sherman, an apparently obscure early 20th century playwright. The Quigley Lithographic Co. of Kansas City, Mo. (known as Ackermann-Quigley Litho. Co. until about 1920) is credited for production. The company was known for printing playbills, posters, and other theater- related materials. My research turned up very little about the playwright other than examples of his plays. Sherman seems to have been somewhat prolific and popular in his day but largely forgotten by posterity. However, his plays inspired the artists behind these posters and they serve to keep his legacy alive.

Posters Promote Theater Experience

I have no idea about the quality of the plays themselves but these posters certainly make them sound intriguing. Besides the vivid colors and creative illustrations, they feature compelling descriptions of plots and what you, as an audience member, can expect inside the theater.  Here’s one example for a play called “Spooks,” shown below. It’s marketed as “the great mystery drama,” with the following warning: “regardless of what occurs during act one of this play–do not leave your seats positively no danger to you.”

spooks theater poster
“Spooks”

A few collectors must be keeping an eye out for Sherman memorabilia because “Spooks” was snapped up the day it was listed in our shop.

“The Balloon Girl,” described as “a comedy drama of circus life,” is another of my favorites from this lot. It tells the story of “a sweet little circus girl, her bad sister, a minister and meddling town gossips.” Sounds like the makings of an engrossing soap opera. (Not sure what the minister’s intentions are here but I think Balloon Girl should be very careful). The poster is shown below, along with two others for Sherman plays.

Turn of the Century Drama

Our collection also includes a poster for “A Modern Cinderella,” a musical comedy based on a book by Casper Nathan, who also wrote the lyrics for songs composed by Hampton Durand. It’s an absolutely beautiful illustration with Cinderella in the center and the caption “Dreams.” This is an earlier lithograph by Quigley dating to 1901, when the company was still called Ackermann-Quigley. It has a few tears in the margins but is in overall excellent shape considering that it’s been around for more than a century. The number in the lower right indicates that more were made but they seem to be quite rare today. Most examples I found online were reproductions.

modern cinderella  theater musical poster
“A Modern Cinderella”

Hope you enjoyed this journey into the world of early 20th century stage memorabilia! Finds like this have turned me into a fan and possibly a collector. I’ll definitely be on the lookout for more!

For those interested in learning more about these and other vintage theater posters, here are a few suggested resources:

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Christmas Collectibles: Byers’ Choice Carolers

christmas carol
Dickens’ A Christmas Carol is among the most popular Byers Choice series.

Among the most popular vintage collectibles around the Christmas holiday season are Byers’ Choice Carolers dolls, particularly those from the series based on Charles Dickens‘ A Christmas Carol. The story of their creation and rise to prominence is a classic rags to riches tale that would probably have impressed Dickens himself. The now-treasured group of characters began as kitchen table craft projects that caught on and became worldwide bestsellers.

Joyce Byers first started making Carolers figures in the 1960s as Christmas presents for friends and relatives, according to the company’s website. Weary of the commercialism surrounding the holiday, she set out to craft figures that captured the true spirit of the occasion and could be passed down through families as treasured keepsakes. Over the years, more and more people admired the dolls and demand grew well beyond what Joyce could handle on her own.

Modest Beginnings

christmas carolers dolls
Characters from A Christmas Carol.

To meet rising demand, Joyce enlisted the help of her family and soon their entire house was filled with Carolers in various stages of construction. When she took them to a few stores near her home they sold out immediately, prompting sellers across the country to take notice. Eventually, her husband, Bob, joined her in the business full time and in 1978 they hired their first employee. The company  now employees 80 artisans at its Chalfont, PA, headquarters.

Appeal for Collectors & Decorators

Today, we would probably say the Carolers went “viral.”  But they’re far from a passing fad. Fans of Carolers consider them part of their holiday tradition to be passed down from one generation to another. Collecting can border on obsession. For example, one couple featured by The Reading (PA) Eagle in 2016 amassed more than 1,500 dolls valued at $175,000, then sold them in a two-part auction.  The couple bonded with other avid collectors as they traveled around the country building their collection over a period of 20-plus years.

Christmas decor: Byers Choice dolls displayed on a buffet are a nice added touch.

The dolls are perfect for decorating mantles, shelves, and other display areas around the holidays. Some people like to place them in small groupings around a room or throughout their home, as shown in the photo below taken from a 2015 article in Columbia Metropolitan magazine, based in Columbia, SC. 

The Tradition Continues

Byers Choice dolls are still handmade in the company’s Chalfont, PA, workshop. Each doll starts out as plain coat hanger on a plaster base. Joyce Byers then personally sculpts the original heads from clay, which are recreated using plaster molds, and designs the clothing. Individual artisans add painting and finishing touches, ending with the characteristic green felt ring and dated gold seal on the base. The process ensures that no two dolls are exactly alike, which makes them all the more collectible.  Check out this page on the company’s website for more details and photos.

Recently we acquired a large group of Carolers that had been lovingly cared for and displayed by a collector near Hartford, CT. Many are first or second editions from the Dickens series created in the 1980s and early 1990s. Some are from other popular series, such as Cries of London, Christmas Waites, and Williamsburg. Click on the links for more details on individual dolls.

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Early Victorian Jewelry: Age of Romance

The Victorian era is known for producing a wide variety of elegant, ornate jewelry that is still quite popular today. It’s a style that is both recognizable and difficult to precisely define. That’s because the era is divided into three periods aligned with distinctly different phases in the life of Queen Victoria, whose reign lasted from 1837-1901. Historians divide her 64-year reign into the Early or Romantic, Middle or Grand, and Late or Aesthetic periods. This post will look at styles that emerged during the first of those eras.

The Romantic Period (1937-1860)

Victoria ascended to the throne at the tender age of 18 after the death of her father. Soon after, she fell madly in love with and married Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, her first cousin. It was a time of youthful optimism and happiness for the young couple, a mood that quickly infected the country and was reflected in popular fashion.

At the same time, England was going through a period of tremendous change and upheaval marked by the Industrial Revolution and the Great Reform Act, a major overhaul of the electoral system that created a representational Parliamentary system and extended more privileges to the middle class. While all in the name of progress, these changes created huge economic and physical hardships for the poor. Working conditions in factories were abysmal and many poor people lived under deplorable conditions in workhouses and orphanages. The novelist Charles Dickens vividly portrayed their suffering in works like Oliver Twist, Bleak House, and many more.

Such rapid and monumental economic and political changes understandably led to mixed sentiments among British subjects. There was optimism and excitement for the future as well as nostalgia for the past and longing for simpler times. Romance was the prevailing mood in the early period as people celebrated and admired the love of the royal couple. Jewelry was ornate, sentimental, and feminine. Mass production meant that jewelry was no longer exclusively for the rich and became very popular among fashionable women in the middle class.

Romantic Era Jewelry

The early period is marked by some common styles and motifs. According to the Gem Society, there was renewed interest in Gothic and Medieval themes; Ancient Greek, Roman, and Egyptian cultures; Moorish motifs, such as knots and tassels; enameling; and symbols such as hearts, hands, eyes, anchors, crosses, etc. Snakes and serpents became popular as signs of eternal love after Albert presented Victoria with an engagement ring featuring a serpent with an emerald at its head.

Popular Styles

acrostic ring
Acrostic Ring found on Etsy.
Hair Locket found on Etsy.

Below are a few of the most popular jewelry items during the Romantic Period:

  • Large Brooches. Ornate brooches with gemstones and engraved details were extremely fashionable. Many featured miniature portraits as well. 
  • Acrostic Jewelry. These pieces spelled out a word according to the first letter of each gemstone. For example, a ring with a diamond, emerald, amethyst, and ruby spelled the word “DEAR”.
  • Cameos. Jewelry made from coral, shell, and lava stone carved into portraits in high relief.
  • Slide Chains. A long chain with a decorative slide.
  • Girandoles. Drop cluster earrings with gemstones. 
  • Hair jewelry.Lockets, watch fobs, and brooches containing a lock of hair from a loved one. Hair brooches were often worn during mourning. Victorians also used hair in the formation of the piece itself, such as a knot made of tightly woven hair in the center of a brooch.

A few Victorian brooches we have listed in our shop:

If you love vintage fashion check out my previous posts on popular styles and fashions in the Art Deco and Midcentury Modern periods.

Resources

The following sites helped in researching this post and are recommended as resources on the Victorian Era:

Ancient Greeks: Nature Holds Key to Self Knowledge

I’m always amazed by the accomplishments of the ancient Greeks. As early as the fifth century BCE, they had established scientific laws and philosophical principles that shape how we live in and view the world today.  Hundreds of years later, we still look to the Greeks for guidance in areas ranging from architecture to government to theater, to name only a few.

What Greeks Gave the World

Consider the following extremely impressive list of “Greek contributions to Western Civilization” (compiled by the education site, Owlcation):

  • Democracy
  • The Alphabet
  • The Library
  • The Olympics
  • Science and Mathematics
  • Architecture
  • Mythology
  • The Lighthouse
  • Standardized Medicine
  • Trial by Jury
  • The Theater

The Greeks’ relationship to the natural world is particularly fascinating. Unlike our modern drive to gain control over the earth, Greeks believed in living in harmony with nature. The revered philosopher, Aristotle, came up with a model of the natural world that laid the foundation for astrology and heavily influenced modern psychological thought. Under this model, each of the four elements—air, fire, earth, and water—corresponds to different personality types, and every type comprises varying combinations of opposites: hot, cold, wet, and dry.

Precursor of Mindfulness 

Even if you don’t put much credence in astrology, explaining personality types in terms of elemental qualities makes a lot of sense. At the very least, it’s interesting to consider the traits associated with your element. Although each element is linked to both positive and negative qualities, none are inherently evil or bad. No one is perfect, after all. As a Taurus, for example, my element is earth. I’m likely to be conscientious, perseverant, responsible, and reliable, among other “positive” traits. But I might also be stuffy, superficial, lazy, and indifferent—in other words, I’ve got nothing to be smug about. Recognizing my “darker” side might help me be a better person and turn negatives into positives.

The approach fits perfectly with the current interest in mindfulness as a path to happiness and well-being. “Mindfulness is the basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing, and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us,” according to the web site Mindful. The ability to see ourselves objectively as inherently flawed beings, as Aristotle suggested so long ago, seems like a step in the right direction.

Discover Your Element

Following is a brief summary of each element and its associated astrological signs and personality traits, both positive and negative. It’s based on a list created by the web site Gaia. (Other sites used in researching this post are listed below).

What Element Are You?

  1. Earth

    (Taurus, Virgo, Capricorn). The earth is stable and reliable yet constantly working and moving. Strengths: practical, hard working, loyal, creative, nurturing, and empathetic. Weaknesses: Lazy, scornful, stubborn, rigid.

  2. Air

    (Gemini, Libra, Aquarius). Air is invisible yet constantly moving. Strengths: Thoughtful, witty, charming, carefree, independent, flexible. Weaknesses: inconsistent, insensitive, selfish, flaky, dishonest.

  3. Fire

    (Aries, Leo, Sagittarius). We’re drawn to fire because it provides heat and light but it cannot survive alone. Strengths: passionate, bright, charismatic, focused, decisive, daring. Weaknesses: Prone to anger and rage, obsessive, unfaithful, jealous, easily irritated, vindictive.

  4. Water

    (Cancer, Scorpio, Pisces). Water appears steady on the surface, always flowing, while much is happening below. Strengths: understanding, trusting, devoted, forgiving, flexible. Weaknesses: unstable, prone to depression, irrational, gullible, lack of self.

Resources:

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Why We Love Miniatures

Miniature:
A copy on a much reduced scale; something small of its kind.

Miriam-Webster.

People love to see the world in miniature. Remember creating those shoebox dioramas back in elementary school? I loved those projects: You could make the inside of the box look like your living room, your town, your country, or the world. When complete, you put the cover on the box and carved out a small hole in one end. The result was a micro-scaled version of how you saw the world–if everything was perfectly arranged and immune to change.

miniature kitchen
Everything in its place–until you move it.

As adults, we often don’t allow ourselves to indulge in such projects but the allure of miniatures is still there. We might channel that desire into collecting small figures or art objects that mirror a particular passion, such as animals or nature, or hobbies like music or reading. It’s a satisfying feeling to see these collectibles displayed on the shelves or walls in our homes. They’re so reassuringly present and unchanging. 

chihuahua puppy
Humans are hardwired to love tiny creatures.

A blog post by The Hustle, notes that part of the appeal of miniature houses and their accessories is that they offer an alternative to real life, “giving people places to build the lives they will never be able to experience in full-size. A Rembrandt in the living room is perfectly achievable when it’s the size of a postage stamp.” An article in Popular Science magazine, adds that miniatures give us a chance to appreciate the smaller things in life. From an evolutionary perspective, humans are hardwired to love babies so that we protect them. Psychologically, that protectiveness and fondness extends into all baby creatures, as well as tiny inanimate objects.

springer spaniel puppy
Personal favorite: Piper, our springer
spaniel, as a puppy.

I’ve been thinking about miniatures lately as we acquire them for our vintage shops and learn more about the kinds of things people like to collect and create (like vintage pill boxes, the subject of last week’s blog post).  It prompted me to create the following list, which is totally subjective and in no particular order.

10 Reasons We Love Miniatures:

  1.  Get Control. Going back to the diorama idea, imagine a tiny perfect kitchen with dishes neatly stacked, counters cleared, and a steaming hot pie cooling by the window. Extend that to any room, place, or other compartment in your life: it never gets messy, never changes unless you want it to. It’s a comforting thought when other things in your life might not seem so stable.
  2. Escape from Reality. Allowing yourself a brief escape into fantasy can make a huge difference to how the rest of your day goes. You may find yourself suddenly able to tackle problems that flummoxed you only a few hours ago.
  3. Relieve Stress. Indulge in making miniatures or arranging a collection whenever the real world gets a tad overwhelming. You’re not avoiding problems but simply taking a break to clear your mind. 
  4. Be Creative. Discover the artistic side you might not know you have by curating a collection, arranging a display, or making tiny crafts.
  5. Find your inner child. You don’t have to be young to spend time making things that aren’t necessarily useful. Consider the recent popularity of coloring books for adults, giving us permission to enjoy coloring even with no kids around. Getting older doesn’t make you less creative.
  6. Start a conversation. Collecting small objects is a great way to spark up conversation at a party or connect with others who have similar interests or passions.
  7. Pursue a hobby.  Do you feel compelled to justify all your leisure time activities?- ie, you must take yoga to relax, go the gym to stay healthy, volunteer at your kids’ school to help out, etc, etc, etc. If that sounds like you, try taking up a hobby for no other reason than you like the sound of it.
  8. Start a collection. Similar to the above, collecting is personal. It’s something just for you and reflects your own individual taste. (Plus, it gives your friends and family a whole new set of gift ideas).
  9. Test out ideas. Making or buying miniatures usually doesn’t require a huge investment of time or money (although it can get very pricey depending on what you collect). Generally, if you don’t like what you make or buy, it’s very easy to start over or change course. As any successful entrepreneur will tell you, there’s no such thing as failure, just opportunities to learn and grow.
  10. Spend time with your kids. Collecting or making something that appeals to both you and your child is a great way to spend quality time that you both enjoy. It gives you an excuse to carve out creative time (if you need an excuse).

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