There’s something magical about miniatures, especially when they are strikingly lifelike! We’ve seen how artist can take life-sized landscapes and create tiny models through the use of tilt-shift photography, so now let’s look at a talented artist who creates miniature replicas of people’s dogs.
Introducing Lucy Francis, an amazing artist from Hastings, Minnesota (my home state). I had the privilege of interviewing her for this story.
Lucy was a stay at home mom, raising three boys and a girl, along with several dogs. She started working with yarn to create an ornament for a gift package for a Cairn terrier breeder. Shortly after that she attempted to make her parents deceased Yorkie using her real dog Ted’s fur to make it a bit more realistic.
“I was quite pleased with the result, “Lucy said. “It started me on my way to new ideas to make them as real as possible.”
Lucy works in a studio in the main part of her home. This allows her to work whenever she wants to and be in touch with her real dogs, Bob, a cairn terrier, and Fred, a Chihuahua terrier mix. She is inspired by dogs and everything about them. Her miniatures are created by using pieces of fur, fiber, wool and wire, often incorporating bits of dog hair. She uses magnification and has a passion for getting the true expression for each animal.
“It never takes less than two weeks and often a month or more, Francis said. “I never stop working on a piece until it leaves my home. Always something can be improved.”
Lucy presented her miniatures at Tom Bishop International show for 13 years. She sold well at the show but people came with photos and hair to have their dog made. Soon she could not keep up with inventory and custom work. Currently she has her dogs in 17 countries from Japan to South Africa. She sold many pieces to the Puppenhaus Museum in Basel Switzerland. The animals start at $300.00 and go as high as $2,400. She does not charge more for custom pieces.
“Each pet comes with its own unique challenge,” Francis said. "Real fur, which is important to most people, can be difficult to work with in small scale and the animals all have their own special essence that must be captured. Cats are harder for me since I have not spent my entire life focused on them. I’ve owned several and love them.”
She also uses bits of camel’s hair, silk, cashmere and leather to make her miniatures basing the models on photographs of people’s real dogs.
“I like people,” said Francis. “The animal owners that come to me, share an intense love for them. Being involved with people about their pets is very rewarding.”
I asked Lucy “Why do you do what you do?
“My art helps heal some of the missing we all go through when we lose a beloved pet,” she responded. "I give a physical reminder that can be touched and seen again. Often making owners feel they have a bit of them back home.”
“I think there is a need for people to continue to see their pets after they pass,” she added. “Dollhouses and miniature settings wouldn’t quite be complete without an animal. I also love doing it because it gives me purpose and reason to keep studying dogs.”
See Lucy Francis miniatures at http://www.lucyfrancisminiatures.com/