Dollhouse BRAZIL



DollHouse BRAZIL


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One of the pioneers in teaching and promoting miniatures in Brazil, Regina is a very talented artist. Her pieces reflect her care and attention to detail she pays to every thing she does. This is a golden chance to get to know more about her work and experience!

Regina Passy-Yip

Pictures in the end.

I’m a high school Chemistry and Physics teacher. I graduated from USP. Actually, Chemistry helped me understand better how to deal with materials like mixing glues, paints, varnishes… I even made a mini-violet and painted it with that salt that changes its color according to the humidity in the air – like those little “weather roosters”. Quite an interesting result: a violet that can ‘forecast’ the weather... (laughs...)

What is your professional background?

Yeah, sort of... But I can get inspiration from other sources too. I’ve been inspired by some pieces which didn’t come from my family – like this Gossip Chair [this kind of chair is known in Brazil as “flirting chair”]. I saw it at ‘Museu da Casa Brasileira’ some time ago, at its opening. It wasn’t this one exactly, but I thought the concept of this piece of furniture very interesting. Another room was based on a hall tree I saw at the art studio where I used to teach. I have to look at the furniture and like it. The swing bench I made was because of my daughter. She saw one for sale and, as we don’t have place for one here, I made a miniature swing bench.

Is it a way of keeping the family history alive?

I got a computer with Internet access in 2000. I remember it was mother’s day weekend. On that Saturday, I wrote to a Brazilian magazine “Faça Fácil”. Back then I was building the library. They liked it and asked me to send them a sample piece by mail so that they could take some pictures. I explained it wouldn’t be a good idea, as the pieces are small, made of smaller parts glued together, too delicate for mailing. In the end, I took the whole library to their studio and they wrote an article about it. Back then I was already teaching how to make miniatures, even though I didn’t use or know about 1:12 scale, which was mostly used abroad. In August I decided to build a website, as I got a lot of positive feedback from the article. It was a very simple website. I made the second one myself too, it even had some music. The third one was made by my son, and it came out very beautiful. Then I finally made the current one, a “”. Well, back to the group beginning: by November 2000, I got an email from someone who knew a lot about miniatures abroad and she told me that my website was the first one on the topic she had found in Brazil. She told me about the groups abroad and suggested we created one here. Even though I was really insecure about it, she went on and created the group where both of us are moderators. This person was Roselly Pizzolotti – and actually the idea for the group was hers, not mine; she’s the one who pulls it forward and has most ideas. The first members were my students, then more people interested in miniatures joined in, they were all looking for a “meeting place”. That’s why our first slogan was “a meeting place for minimaniacs”.We change the slogan from time to time, but our primary focus has always been teaching and learning about miniatures. We’ve already promoted exhibits, workshops... I’d really like to make some more workshops. Right now, the group is closed for new members. I have too much on my plate and I unfortunately don’t have much time to lead the group as I should.

How did you come up with the idea of creating MiniClube – the first discussion group on miniatures in Brazil?

first published on 09/16/2008

I had been thinking about it for a while, and many people had asked me to do it. But I didn’t feel prepared or ready to take on a project this big. At some point I realized I was actually ready! It was when I finished the house where I grew up. While making it, I already tried to take better pictures of the steps, make the patterns more carefully. I had already made some booklets for smaller projects with patterns and photos. But I walked extra an mile for the material from the house. I had already started thinking about the book structure – which isn’t so different from the foreign books. The main difference is that usually their books are either about miniatures, or about furniture, or about polymer clay. Mine has it all. As I like to make my own pieces and I believe this gives the room a personal touch…

What was it like to write the first Brazilian book exclusively about miniatures?

Well, I work hard on everything I do, I don’t stand still just waiting for things to happen. I learned miniatures by myself, by trial and error. It was the same with the book. But books run in the family. My grandfather had a book store. He used to bring books from Portugal to sell them here. My aunt Esmeralda was the first artistic bookbinding teacher in Brazil. I learned a lot from her. My daughter graduated as an editor, and by then she was having her internship at a publishing house. She taught me that ‘on-demand’ publishing wasn’t such a complicated thing to do. You must have money enough, of course! But in the end she was the coordinator for the book project, as she knows a lot about miniatures and knows well how I wanted it to be. Then we went through the process of making the book, lots of proof readings, taking better pictures... And they came up with several great suggestions on layout, fonts, colors, etc. The whole process took almost a year to be completed. At the end I almost gave up, due to health problems in the family – I couldn’t find time or peacemind to publish the book. But Pépp talked me into it and we ended up signing it at his studio. Which I really liked, as it was among miniaturists.

Was it difficult to have it published?

It’s got a lot better! And now people know more about it. Before, they didn’t even know what miniatures were – they’d think it was about ‘fridge magnets’, ‘wedding/birthday souvenirs’, ‘painted stones’, things like that. Now they know what’s all about.

Looking back over these 8 years on the Internet, do you think the number of people interested in miniatures is increasing or not?

Only people who already know about miniatures, buy it. But those who bought it at a bookstore often go to my website and post positive messages about the book, and tell me about pieces they made after my tutorials. This is very rewarding.

How has it been doing since then? Among non-miniaturists, I mean...

Several magazines have already published articles or special issues on miniatures. I’ve done it, Betinha has done some... But to sell a magazine at a newsstand on a regular basis… it has to have another focus. We still don’t have a miniature ‘culture’ in Brazil. People want “fast results”, like an income source. Many people ask me: “but can I make money out of this?” We know it doesn’t work that way, each piece takes quite some time to be finished. Their small size doesn’t mean they’re easy or fast to make. One has to care about details. Unless one buys everything ready-made and just puts the room together, with cheap wholesale pieces: MDF furniture, plates and glasses by Florbrás... They are cute… but the quality won’t be the same.

Do you think we could have a magazine on miniatures in Brazil, as they have abroad?

In the beginning I really enjoyed turning day-by-day objects into miniatures. Like once, on a New Year’s Day, walking along the beach, I saw a champagne cap and thought: “what if I turn this upside down? I could make a fern holder!” I used to go to button stores and ask to check their catalogs. They probably thought I was kind of crazy, as I’d see a button and say: “wow, what an awesome tray”, or “what a wonderful lamp”, or “oh, what a beautiful goblets set”… laughs…

But what I really enjoy working with is wood, especially cedar. I also like polymer clay; you can get fantastic results from it. I love to work with wood, though, to research old furniture, with all the details.

What are your favorite techniques and materials?

It’s 1:12 now, I’ve got used to it. And it’s also very convenient. If you need an extra piece to complete your room, you can find it anywhere in the world. I like to make all the objects in my rooms myself. But recently, as I had very short time to finish some displays for the book events, I ended up using some items from other miniaturists too.

Which is your favorite scale?

Usually, I find a piece of furniture that I like; and from it I make the rest of the room.

What inspires you to create each room?

Some pieces of furniture go back to my childhood. For example, there is one, which I always liked, that came from an aunt’s home. There’s a personal history to it. Besides, I’d love to have all of them here with me, but they’d never fit my home, I’d need a bigger house! (laughs…) It can also be a depiction of a room of my own house. There’s one room that I made because of a table, and another one because of a cabinet.

Does this piece must have a history behind it or can it be just something you liked?

As of rooms, there’s another part of my aunt’s house I’d like to reproduce. It’s a hall, a two-story one, connected to the family room – and it will be very big – that’s the problem. I also want to make pieces of antique furniture, and one for the ‘Louis XV Challenge’ – but I haven’t decided which one yet… laughs… And maybe go back to teaching miniatures, when things settle down here at home.

What’s on your miniature ‘to-do’ list?