An exciting thing happened to me in July! Jimmy Landers, a master miniaturist, contacted me and after talking on the phone several times he commissioned me to make a needlepoint rug for his beautiful new Tudor dollhouse. This house is going to be exhibited at the Johnson County Museum of History in Franklin, Indiana starting October 8th through the spring of 2022.
Before I say any more about the rug and his house, I want to share the beautiful serendipity of how this came about. If you know me at all, you know I believe in the power of positivity and asking for what you want and then being open to seeing what comes your way. Well, this left me with no doubt about the path I should be on.
I had been wondering if I should get back to painting, even though I was having so much fun building my “covid” dollhouse. I really LOVE the building part. I love everything about miniatures, and saw all the people on Instagram making miniature things like furniture, flowers, food, shoes, and a host of other things to sell. I know myself well enough to know the fastest way for me to kill my enthusiasm for something is for me to have to make the same thing over and over again. So I KNEW that would not be for me, but I wasn’t sure WHAT I should be doing. And then Jimmy called.
The first day we talked for almost an hour. He lives in Indiana, BUT he grew up thirty minutes from Birmingham in Sylacauga. Now unless you live in Alabama you probably have never heard of Sylacauga, but I know it well because I grew up in Opelika and all my relatives lived in Birmingham and we were on the road between the two many, many times every year, and Sylacauga is on the way. And when I told him that I grew up in Opelika, he told me that is where his sister lives. Clearly my “paying attention” radar was on full alert.
Now let me tell you about Jimmy. He is a master miniaturist. He is one of the best in the world. He has built some of the most beautiful dollhouses and other miniature creations. Take a look at the cabinet of dollhouse rooms he built, it is magnificent. You can see all the pictures on his website here https://cr2s.com/jlsignatures.com/
Before I ever knew who Jimmy was I had saved a couple of pictures from a magazine, I have no idea where I saw it or what magazine it was in but I loved it. It was a two story library. I cut out the pictures and put them in my notebook (I actually have four notebooks) that hold all my inspiration both for my real house and more recently for dollhouses. Once I started talking to him I realized it was HIS library. I was talking to my miniature hero and I didn’t even realize it until after we talked the first time.
You really have to look on his website to see all the beautiful details. Real stained glass windows in the ceiling, four thousand books, that he made (with some help from his wife) and details, all the details. It’s amazing. I told him during our second phone call that I had realized after talking with him, that I had saved pictures of his library. It was during this call that he asked about some rugs I had posted on Instagram. I told him no way, I didn’t sell those, I was just learning how to needlepoint that small. He wanted something to go with the beautiful rose marble floors in the master bedroom of his new dollhouse, they are REAL marble and so gorgeous. I finally agreed that I would make one, but I had to find a design that would be true to the era of his house and I would use colors that would compliment the floor and the bedding in the room. I had NO idea what I had agreed to.
Once I found the pattern and chose the colors, I realized for the size he wanted I was going to have to make this on 32 count silk gauze needlepoint canvas and use silk thread, which is not as forgiving as other things. 22 count was the smallest I had tried so far, and I thought THAT was hard, 32 was a HUGE challenge. 22,545 stitches later-actually a lot more, because I started over four times, I finished his rug. TINY stitches, 1/32 of an inch. I wore magnifiers with lights on my head, and looked through a 10x larger magnifying glass and cussed A LOT!
So back to serendipity. He grew up 30 miles from me, his sister lives where I grew up, he was already one of my inspirations without me knowing it. As we talked, we both have built our own real houses. We love so many of the same things about building. I asked him a million questions and he answered them all. He has helped me find sources, helped me about sizes of things, everything. And while I was stitching that rug I had a lot of time to think.
One of the first things that I remembered is that several years ago I wrote down some things I wanted. I wrote that I wanted to sell a painting to a famous artist. I wanted my art to be in a magazine and I wanted “something” of mine to be in a museum. Now I didn’t write painting, I wrote “something”. Really weird, except maybe I was just assuming at the time it would be a painting. The first two things happened a little over a year later in 2017, I sold a painting to a famous artist and five pages of my art was featured in the Art and Fashion edition of Vie Magazine. I had forgotten about writing all that down until a few months ago when I was cleaning out and found it. And NOW “something” of mine is going to be in a museum. You just have to ASK!
I talked to Jimmy again the other day and told him I want to do what he does. I want to build dollhouses from scratch (there aren’t a lot of people that do that), and I want to sell them. These kinds of dollhouses are very, very expensive. I knew that the dollhouse I have been working on (and learning on) was NOT going to be the kind of dollhouse I could sell, at least not for the kind of money you would want after spending over a year working on something. I asked him if he thought it would be something I could do and he said yes, but it is going to probably take you a year or two. I am okay with that.
I want to create a masterpiece dollhouse and now that I have a mentor, the BEST I could ask for, I know what I want to do, so I am starting on my new dollhouse and using REAL materials and I am going to try to do things the way Jimmy and the masters do it. I don’t know if I will be able to pull it off, but I am going to try, no matter how long it takes.
Please check out his website and see all his beautiful creations. https://cr2s.com/jlsignatures.com and follow him on Instagram https://www.instagram.com/jimmy_landers_jhlsignatures/
And if you are near Franklin, Indiana in the next few months, go check out his dollhouse.