Posts tagged
with miniature

Animation Colossal Design

Interview: Production Designer Liz Toonkel Describes Creating the Adorable Universe of ‘Marcel the Shell with Shoes On’

August 16, 2022

Christopher Jobson

A tiny mollusk with a big personality, Marcel the Shell with Shoes On is famous for quirky antics and endlessly entertaining use of human-sized objects. In a new interview supported by Colossal Members, production designer Liz Toonkel discusses building the universe the adorable character occupies in the feature-length mockumentary released this summer from A24.

All of those little details that you wouldn’t think about, when you watch it they give it an inherent truth because everything feels like it does in our real world. Same thing with the garden. Those are real plants. That’s so rare in stop motion that you have real organic materials. It’s pretty much impossible to stop-motion animate with them because they decompose. There was a lot of thought put into how to bring organic, real life to the things around Marcel.

Colossal editor-in-chief Christopher Jobson recently sat down with Toonkel to discuss building a realistic micro world within a macro setting, the challenges of blending live-action with stop-motion animation, and why the tennis ball scenes are as impressive as the internet thinks. Read the full interview here.





A Temporary Sanctuary at Hitokotonushi Shrine Provides Fresh Water for Japan’s Honeybees

July 11, 2022

Grace Ebert

All images courtesy of Hitokotonushi Shrine

Established more than 1,200 years ago in 809, the historic Hitokotonushi Shrine just outside of Tokyo becomes a secondary sanctuary for local pollinators each summer. The on-site water basins, which are designed to hydrate humans, undergo a miniature makeover complete with moss, tiny architecture, and climbing surfaces so that the spaces are hospitable to the region’s bee population, offering a clean source used for drinking, feeding their offspring, diluting honey, and helping to stabilize the hive’s temperature. Just like humans and other animals, bees sometimes struggle to find clean water in hot weather, and when they do, they risk drowning if there aren’t enough spots to land. According to the shrine’s Twitter, this year’s oasis is already buzzing with visitors, which you can see in the video below. (via Spoon & Tamago)



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Art Craft

Turtles, Ducklings, and Pheasants Comprise an Adorable Menagerie of Miniatures by Fanni Sandor

July 1, 2022

Grace Ebert

All images © Fanni Sandor, shared with permission

Hungary-based artist Fanni Sandor (previously) expands her already minuscule menagerie with even tinier creatures. Using polymer clay, feathers, fur, and other materials, Sandor sculpts biologically accurate miniatures at a 1:12 scale, and many of her recent pieces include newborns and adolescents: a trio of joeys cling to their mother’s back, a chick slurps a worm, and a duckling grasps a monarch in its bill. Sandor shares more of the adorable animals and information on which are available on Instagram.





Deceptive Stone Sculptures by Hirotoshi Ito Unzip to Reveal Surreal Scenes in Miniature

June 15, 2022

Grace Ebert

All images © Hirotoshi Ito, shared with permission

Stone isn’t naturally malleable, and yet, Japanese artist Hirotoshi Ito (previously) carves his sculptures to make the material appear as if it can be unzipped or sliced with a butter knife. Using rocks he finds near his home in Matsumoto City, Ito chisels tiny caverns that he lines with clasps or simple fasteners. He then tucks miniature objects like teeth, a collection of seashells, and futuristic scenes into those pockets, creating surreal and intriguingly deceptive scenarios in the span of a few inches.

Ito’s family has worked in stone sculpting since 1879, and although he planned to take over the business, his experience studying metalsmithing in college prompted him to begin an art practice instead. Some of his sculptures are on view through the end of the month at Tokyo’s Gallery Little High, and keep an eye on his Instagram for news about upcoming shows.




Craft Illustration

Curious Squirrels and Rambunctious Hares Form a Miniature Menagerie of Felted Wildlife

May 4, 2022

Grace Ebert

All images © Simon Brown, shared with permission

From a shy baby fox to toads donning crowns, the felted miniatures crafted by Simon Brown and Katie Corrigan are adorable, whimsical renditions of forest creatures. The Northumbria, U.K.-based creative duo transforms thick rovings of wool into wildlife that can be found perching on a snowy branch or creeping up on a mouse through the grass-like bristles of a wooden brush. Brown tells Colossal that he plans to incorporate more found objects into the newer sculptures, which are increasingly illustrative in style, and is also working on developing automata to add a liveliness to the realistic characters. See more of the pair’s process on Instagram.





Jewelry Boxes Encase Curtis Talwst Santiago’s Elaborately Constructed Narratives of Nostalgia and Identity

April 28, 2022

Grace Ebert

“The Apprentice, the fish, the cat, the crow, and the oranges” (2018), mixed-media diorama in a reclaimed jewelry box, 5.7 x 7.6 x 6.4 centimeters. All images © Curtis Talwst Santiago, shared with permission

Within the confines of a tiny jewelry box, Canadian-Trinidadian artist Curtis Talwst Santiago (previously) nestles miniature scenes imbued with in-depth narratives of home and intimacy, diasporic identity, and memory. The elaborately built dioramas are part of Santiago’s ongoing Infinity Series, which he began in 2008 and has since expanded to include dozens of pieces replete with lush foliage, architectural features, and minuscule figures preserved in time.

In recent years, the artist has referenced his childhood and family life in the mixed-media works, including in the “Soca in the Suburbs” collection that incorporates replicas of his parents’ basement complete with thick shag carpeting and a distinctly ’70s aesthetic. These environments, Santiago explains in a statement, reflect on the necessity of private gatherings in 2020 and the importance of sharing histories across generations:

This theme of ‘Soca in the Suburbs’ emerged during Covid with the closure of clubs in the contemporary sense, dancing at home, and quarantine discos at home started popping up, and I started thinking of the family members I couldn’t see, and the parties from my memory… I’m also thinking about what I want to pass forward to my son when photographs fail. I want him to have an archive of his family history, of his cultural heritage. I want him to know where his family came from, not just ancient ancestors but his grandparents, and see the clothing they wore, and those polaroids that a lot of Caribbean people have from their rumpus room adult activities.

Some of Santiago’s works are on view as part of the Atlantic World Art Fair through May 5. You can follow his practice that spans painting, sculpture, and drawing and see more of his process on Instagram.


“Artist as Knight (self-portrait)” (2018), mixed-media diorama in a reclaimed jewelry box, 5.7 x 5.1 x 6.4 centimeters

“Party Can’t Done” (2020), mixed-media diorama in a reclaimed jewelry box, 9 x 8 x 8 centimeters

Detail of “Party Can’t Done” (2020), mixed-media diorama in a reclaimed jewelry box, 9 x 8 x 8 centimeters

“Olokun in Fancy Dress” (2018), mixed-media diorama in a reclaimed jewelry box, 5.7 x 5.7 x 6.4 centimeters

“Visions of Touba 1” (2021), mixed-media diorama in a reclaimed jewelry box, 5 x 10 x 5 centimeters

“Modern Nubian enjoying Ancient Dogon technology” (2021), mixed-media diorama in a reclaimed jewelry box, 7.6 x 14.6 x 14.6 centimeters

“Soca in the Suburbs” (2021), mixed-media diorama in a reclaimed jewelry box, 7.6 x 14.6 x 14.6 centimeters

Detail of “Soca in the Suburbs” (2021), mixed-media diorama in a reclaimed jewelry box, 7.6 x 14.6 x 14.6 centimeters

“March of the Jab Jabs” (2021), mixed-media diorama in a reclaimed jewelry box, 5.1 x 5.7 x 6.3 centimeters