Welcome to Day 2
of a Nommy Miniatures extravaganza!
There are three days of fun!
Day 2: Interview with Darlene Dallas, the talent behind Nommy Miniatures
Day 3: GIVEAWAY!!!!
Today we're going to interview the creative mind behind
I was *SUPER* excited to find out that Nommy Miniatures is based right here in Michigan!
I am always so excited to find fellow 1/6 enthusiasts in the state!
Also... you're just in time to get in an order of some of her super cute Valentines Day items!
All photographs in this post are ©Nommy Miniatures
and used with permission.
If you're wondering where you can find the fantastic miniature work of Darlene (aka, Nommy Miniatures),
check out her Etsy Shop!
She is available for custom work,
and did a fast, speedy job with my special requests!
Nommy Miniatures is a shop that specializes in delicious, realistic looking 1/6 and 1/12 scale food!
1. How did you get started making miniatures?
I am a member of a contest site for artists. Years ago a friend and I each had a small amount of clay sitting around. She challenged me to a head to head contest where we had to make something from clay that was smaller than 1 inch in size. I made a little platter with a burger, fries, and a drink. After that I started working with clay regularly, competing often. I found that I enjoyed making things miniature in size.
2. What inspires you?
Food itself inspires me. It always has. I have a long culinary background. I started culinary education in high school and went on to college learning culinary arts. After that I worked in a bakery for a couple of my instructors doing specialty cakes and wedding cakes. I left that job several years back when I moved across the state. I still do specialty 3D sculpted cakes from home. Food is a beautiful thing, not just to eat but to look at. When I’m not cooking or baking, I’m making miniature food.
3. Who inspires you?
When I had first started making miniatures (and figurines, not yet fully into mini foods), I had come across a photo of Tanja Jensen’s (Sugar Charm Shop) miniatures and I was blown away. Her work is absolutely incredible and so realistic. Her work inspires. When I saw it I said to myself “I need to learn how to do that!” I have actually just discovered she has tutorials, I expect I’ll be spending some time looking for some tips and tricks to take my work to the next level.
4. How long have you been making miniatures?
I have been making stuff from clay regularly for around 5 years. Mostly figurines or other random things. I also do custom wedding cake toppers. I’d do random mini food from time to time through those years, but only the beginning of 2013 did I start doing food daily and decided to open up a shop.
5. Why playscale? So many miniature artists make 1/12 scale,
so why did you decide to go with 1/6 scale?
so why did you decide to go with 1/6 scale?
I do both 1:6 and 1:12 and sell both in my shop. When I work, I’m doing both sizes at the same time. I much prefer making the 1:6 scale though. It’s easier to work with and I feel that there can be better detail. I started with the 1:6 because I would make things for my daughter’s Barbies. Not to mention that it seems everyone does 1:12 only, 1:6 dolls need food too!
6. Where did the name of your shop come from?
Nommy! Came to me back when I was thinking about what I would call my cake business. Nommy is a word that people often use to describe something that tastes/looks good. Nommy, or Nom, nom nom nom ;) So I decided I wanted that to be the name. My business is registerd as Nommy! By Darlene Dallas. When creating an Etsy shop, I wanted the shop name to include my business name, obviously, but also something that would tie into what I was selling. So it became NommyMiniatures.
7. Do you have any advice for people interested in learning to make miniatures?
No way, you have no need to make miniatures. Come to me and I”ll make whatever you’d like! Haha, just kidding! Get some clay, pastels and get to work! Using food, or photos of the food as references. Keep the photos at your work area and look at it so you can see how your texture and colors are supposed to be. Searching online for tutorials is always a plus if you just can’t figure out how to get it right. Play, play, play, and keep playing with the clay.
8. You take great photographs of your product. Do you have any advice for folks on how to take good photos of small things?
I am also hobby photographer. I LOVE food photography (who would have thought right? haha). You can see a sampling of my work at http://darlenedallas.foliodrop.com/ The most important thing you need to get a decent photo is GOOD LIGHT! If you have good light, you can get a good photo. You don’t need anything fancy, get near a window. Natural light looks best. Stay out of direct sunlight, or harsh lighting because it creates ugly shadows that hide what you’re trying to show. Get close, as close as your camera will let you while still being in focus. A macro lens works great if it’s very small, but might be too close for larger sizes like 1:6. My camera is in need of repair at the moment so I’ve been having to use my phone. Again, as long as you have good light, even a phone camera can work for you.
9. What does your workspace look like?
I use a small desk that is built into my kitchen. It’s not fancy, but it works. I’m left handed so I keep my supplies, clay, pastels, and tools to the left of me. There are built in drawers that hold more supplies like paints and cutters, or other random things I don’t use as much. On the right I have corkboards where I hang up my inventory of finished items, ready for shipping. I used to have them stored in a box, but it was becoming a hassle to find items and there was too much. Hanging them up lets me have quick easy access for packing them up to ship. I have a dry erase board on the wall where I make note of what I need to restock or ideas of what new things to make. It’s also handy for when an order comes in, I write down who and what so it’s easier to keep track of.
10. Tell us a little about yourself... do you have another job other than making miniatures? Hobbies? Interests? Family? Pets? etc.
I work for myself. Doing the miniatures and the specialty cakes. The minis are the main thing I do now. Cakes come in randomly, mostly from word of mouth as I haven’t been advertising, it’s been put on the back burner. I enjoy doing cakes, but they take a lot of time and don’t bring in as much profit as you’d think.
I have two daughters, I’m lucky enough to stay home while one kid is in school and the other is home with me (until this fall when she goes to school too).
Photography is the other passion of mine. I love it. Back in highschool when figuring out what I wanted to be ‘when I grew up’ it was between photographer and chef. I thought it would be awesome to combine the two things with food photography. I have made that a reality as a hobby. I would love to do it professionally, but haven’t branched out there. There are too many things I enjoy doing and don’t want to stop any of them!
11. What is your miniature making work routine like?
Once I get the oldest kid on the school bus, I get to work. I figure out what I’m going to do that day and do it. There isn’t much of a routine as just ‘doing’. I can never work solid until it’s done because of the needs of the younger kid. Plenty of distractions It seems I stick to an 8:30-3:30 working schedule. Once 3:30 hits I’m finishing up to get my daughter off the bus. I don’t generally work after then because there are other things to do, like dinner and spending time with the girls. There are nights when I will spend time working, but that’s generally when I have a custom order come in. I love custom orders! Being able to bring to live someone’s ideas to life is awesome. I’ve had some pretty cool custom orders that were a blast to make.
12. What do you enjoy most about making miniatures?
Seeing my vision come to life. I picture how I want it to be in my head, and it’s just a pleasure when it turns out how I saw it. One of the downfalls of real food is that your ‘masterpiece’ gets eaten and can’t be seen anymore until you do it again. With miniatures, it’s there to stay. It’s relaxing, and so much fun to create tiny food. I very much enjoy what I do. Not many people can say they love their job, but I love mine!
13. What are your goals for Nommy Miniatures in the future?
I haven’t really thought about that. I take things day by day to see where it goes. I have thought about how nice it would be to have to take a bag for packages to the post office to carry all the orders. (I’ve never had that many orders at once). I strive to be someone people come right to when they have a thought of something they have a need/want/vision of.
14. What are your favorite materials to use? (clay types, accessories, etc)
I use Sculpey brand clay. The colored clay I use is Sculpey’s Premo. They also make colored Sculpey III, but I don’t like it. It’s much too soft to hold details and handling. Premo holds up nice and is firm enough for my taste, but soft enough not to kill your hands kneeding. The clay ‘pasta’ roller is the best thing EVER. It makes working so much quicker, kneeding, mixing colors, rolling out sheets as needed. I also use random things often, like foil and toothbrushes for texture and toothpicks.
15. What are some sources (for the reader who might be interested in trying to make their own miniatures) that have helped you along the way?
I don’t really have any to list. Googling, or any internet search, for help when you’re stuck is truly helpful; whether it be photos of food or a tutorial.
16. Do you collect dolls, or have doll houses? If so, what kinds of dolls?
I actually don’t collect any dolls! There is one dollhouse though, and it’s one that I made for my girls for Christmas a couple years back. I had given them a huge box of Barbies, Barbie clothes, Barbie furniture etc, that was mine when I was a little girl. They wanted a house for them. So crazy, craft loving me decided to make one for them. I made the whole house (a 3 story house with an attic), all the furniture and appliances, all the decorations, everything. It turned out really awesome! Their Barbies have a nice supply of food though, for sure! I’ve made them special items, but mostly when I make something I’m not happy with I give it to them to play with. My little one comes to me often while I’m working making requests for her Barbies, so cute! While I don’t collect them, I still yearn for the imagination that I had for a long time playing with Barbies. My imagination has changed and comes out in ways of art and making things for Barbie instead of pretend play now. I even have an urge to sew clothing for them. I want to, I just haven’t gotten around to actually doing it. I even did a 30day photography challenge where I used Barbie as my model. That was fun as I got to ‘play’ with dolls again. If you’re curious you can see the photos here - http://ddallasdd30dcjan12.blogspot.com/ . There are a couple photos from inside the Barbie house! I know you said your readers like to do photostories, I guess that counts as a series of photo stories with a Barbie. I can totally relate to doll collectors and the want of creating these really cool room scenes with them.
17. Do you plan everything out in advance for the year, when it comes to holiday items to make?
Not really. I think about ideas for seasons/holidays as they approach, but definitely not for the year. Once one holiday passes I start thinking about what comes next and go from there.
18. How far in advance do you start making holiday items to prepare for a holiday?
Depends on the holiday. Smaller holidays, maybe a month before. I’d like to have them listed a month prior since that’s about when people start thinking about that holiday and shopping for items. For big holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas, I start a couple months ahead. I believe I started in August last year for Thanksgiving and Christmas, to be sure I had what I needed done and ready for when people would want them, and to stock up on popular items. Christmas time was actually my slowest time of the year, shockingly.
Nommy Miniature's First Mini Ever!
19. What was the first miniature item you ever attempted to make? Was it a success?
My very first miniature was this burger and fries *picture attached* It turned out cute for a first time. Kind of a cartoony look to it. I didn’t use colored clay, it was all done with Super Sculpey (which is a flesh color). Once it was baked I painted it. My first works were don’t with painting the items. Then I went on to coloring my own clay. That was a pain, took way too long and the clay ended up way too soft. That’s when I dived into working with purchased colored clay. It saved my sanity.
20. What is your dream project to work on?
Doll related? I’ve wanted to create individual foldable rooms for Barbie for the girls to play with and that I can use for some photos. It would, of course, probably feature foods too. It seems like a lot of fun. I just love making things! Baking, crafting, sewing, building, sculpting, photographing, miniatures…everything. I love it all and want to do it all, if only there were more time in the day!
A HUGE thank you to Darlene for taking time from her busy
schedules to answer my questions!
International buyers, if you're interested in buying from Nommy Miniatures,
send her a message on Etsy.
Her shop says she doesn't ship Internationally,
but it's not true, she will...
she just wants to work out the details of International shipping with you first :)
If you're interested in ordering from Nommy! Miniatures,