Introducing to Brazilians - and sharing with the world... - the IGMA Fellow, also creator and promoter of the IMA (Independent Miniature Artisans) Show, Thelma Lewis DeMett. From costuming dolls to show dealer to show owner, this really nice, friendly and welcoming artisan and her family have the talent to make you feel welcome and at home in her show.
Pictures in the end.
I have made miniatures for 20 years. My specialty is Costuming. I do 1” scale costuming, contemporary, I’m an IGMA Fellow.
DHB: Thelma, tell us a little bit about you...
Sometimes I do. But after 20 years I needed a change… Because when you work as it was for me, my sole job - I was working 24/7 - and after a while it kind of wears you down. And sometimes you’ll reach a mental block of creativity as you try to come up with new concepts.
DHB: Do you miss costuming dolls?
first published on 07/18/2010
I did the shows as a dealer/exhibitor for 20 years. And I’ve been promoting this show (IMA) in conjunction to being a dealer, for the last 12 years. But in the last 4 years I had to give up being an exhibitor because I have too much work to do, too many details…
DHB: And how did you decide to create your own show?
Well… what I wish I had is more time! (laughs…) I’d like to do some creative displays. I’ve had the concept of doing a thing with cupid dolls, I like cupid dolls. I’ve been collecting those in miniature over the years, and I’d love to do something in honor of the person who created the cupids, but I just don’t have the time to sit down and work on the project.
And I have another special project, which I’ve been collecting for over the years: I love birds, I love the wild birds. But I also love the birds that are pets. So I was thinking that I might do a pet store one day, but the one that just does birds.
DHB: Is there any doll or room that you still haven’t done or worked on, like a dream?
Before that I was involved in education, as an assistant director of a private school, and I did a lot of volunteer work in Chicago public schools.
DHB: And what did you do before that?
I started sewing when I was in 3 grade, from the Home Economics classes in Junior High and High School. I learned to sew in continuing to try and perfect my workmanship in tailoring and that kind of thing. When I decided to get involved in dollhouses with my daughter, which was 10 at the time, we were going to build a dollhouse together. But it turned out to be my dollhouse… But when I started, I really didn’t enjoy the construction part, working with the wood, painting the walls… I know about fabric, so I thought: ‘how about if I try to make something, some clothing in small scale?’ So I tried a small dress and it turned out ok! I thought: ‘It doesn’t look too bad…’ So I tried making some lingerie and that turned out very nice. Then I took the pieces to a miniature store and I asked them what they thought. They said I had done a very decent job and they asked if they could take the things on consignment. And they started selling my work. From there I decided I’d try my first show… And so I did. And here we are!
DHB: And how did you find out you had this talent to create dolls?
IMA website (IMA shows have been cancelled from 2013 on)
Thelma's website (where you can see her work as miniaturist))
DHB: Most people seem to like other eras in miniatures, was this a problem at first?
As my work was contemporary, it was an educational process to the costumer, as they used to be more interested - when I first started - in Victorian. So it took a while for them to ‘see’ my work and how they could use it. Now there are more people who are interested in contemporary.
In fact, I heard this weekend that some company has come out or is going to do some very modern dollhouses and contemporary roomboxes, and that will be good for those people who’d be looking for modern things.
It typically is a year work of planning. You’ve got to go through hotel details, dealers’ details to go on the web, and all the publicity, name badges, the programs for the customer, so it’s an ongoing project for the entire year up until the show day. For the last 10 years we’ve offered transportation, we provide the free buses, and that also is part of the planning: scheduling, getting the contracts with the bus company to provide the service, coordinating with the other shows…
DHB: How far ahead do you have to plan for each show?
This is the only show we have now. We plan to add a show in May 2011, we’re going to New Orleans.
DHB: Do you take this show to other cities too?
We usually have 50 dealers or a little bit over that, but I try to keep the number at least 50.
DHB: How many dealers do you usually have on the show?
I’m not sure they enjoy… but they’re willing to help! We’re a very small family, and the three of us are only children. So we do work together because it’s just the three of us. My husband has always been very supportive, whatever project that I tried. And my daughter, maybe she’s a little hesitant sometimes, but she usually comes through, for me, and she’ll do what she can. So, we work pretty well together.
DHB: I noticed that your family helps you a lot in the show… Do they enjoy all this too?
Yeah, she really is. She’s watched me work over the years, the various things that I’ve tried to do, and she knows that whatever it is that I take on, I’ll give it 100% of myself. And it’s not a selfish thing; it’s usually a bigger issue. So she definitely comes to me for advice. She’s trying to move forward with her own business and interests, and she believes that I can give her some sound advice.
DHB: I watched the special video Ashdown made about your show, and she seemed really proud of you.
Yes. What I like to say is that it gives it, for everybody that attends it, they feel very comfortable, they feel like you care about them. It’s not about how many people that you bring through the door, but that you actually care about them: that they’re enjoying it, that they’re having a good time, that they’re finding what they need. Everybodyseems to like that kind of atmosphere. It’s a positive atmosphere, it’s not faked, it’s genuine and everybody knows that. When they come in, they want to get a hug, they want to get a ‘hello’, a welcome.
DHB: Also, seeing you all together gives the show a very ‘family’ atmosphere…
DHB: E isso faz toda a diferença!And that makes all the difference!
Todas as fotos deste álbum são cortesia da Thelma DeMett