By Timothea Haider
In the U.S. the requirements for a miniature book is that it must be under three inches in width, height and thickness. Aside from this one requirement, a miniature book can come in any form. In the library of Queen Mary's dollhouse are roughly 200 perfect miniature replicas of all the most popular literature of the time all bound by the company Sangorski & Sutcliffe. All these books are perfectly rendered and functional, but were never made to be read by a real human. It is quite the undertaking for such a futile purpose. A tiny copy of Arthur Conan Doyle's 'How Watson Learned The Trick' sits on a minuscule desk next to a remarkably diminutive tin of tobacco, all painstaking made for a resident who can't read, sit or smoke. One of these rare books is especially unique. 'J. Smith' by Fougasse is a fairy tale written specially for the dollhouse and exists only in miniature. It's the story of a fairy who falls into London and has many adventures before returning home to fairyland. This fish out of water story suits the format well as it is a real book in a fake room.
The tradition of making tiny books continues today through places like Pequeno Press in Arizona and The Creative Zone in Washington. These independent studios create work covering topics as diverse as the royal barges of Thailand to the life of Galileo. They all have different approaches to what a miniature book should be and what stories they'd like them to tell. Crane designs, operated by Marian Crane of Arizona creates particularly interesting works as most of them are not made with paper or bookboard. They tend to be embroidered and embellished with beaded tassels. Her book "Twilight Arc" is written in embroidery on turquoise cotton and illustrated with scrimshaw on mother of pearl disks, giving it a magical, whimsical feeling that is very different from what you might get from the standard hardcover. The title of the book refers to the shadow cast on the atmosphere during sunset or sunrise, but it's contents don't explain to us the scientific details of how this happens or give us a diagram, but suggests a feeling through the colors, materials and the mysterious poetry inside.
Where the books in Queen Mary's dollhouse aren't meant to be read, the books made by Marian Crane are not just meant to be read. Their fabric pages are meant to be felt, the tassels are meant to be dangled and toyed with, the size compels you to keep it in your pocket and show people. Crane Designs makes books meant to be experienced fully. Over the years, miniature bookmaking has become more than simply making existing books really small. It's growing into a way for bookmakers to innovate and try new ideas
Mario Munguia Jr.
11/20/2017 06:47:26 pm
I really enjoyed you taking us on a journey into this miniature world. In my opinion if the art is done right, it should continually ask questions, and I have so many questions about this whole movement. There's a wing in The Phoenix Art Museum that is dedicated to miniature rooms, I could easily spend all day looking at them in fascination. What gets me about these works is that everything is still readable yet not meant to be read...I think it's a perfect use of its function. In that process we then have to ask about the future of this practice, the need, and how everything else revolves around it because of its existence. It's also just fun because the outcome allows itself to open up to bigger imaginations such as whether bugs can read them, whether they belong in a miniature room, whether we will create a shrink ray to shrink them further, and so on. These products lend themselves to the open door of mystery letting them be incredibly successful and making all the possibilities attached to them endless, well done.
11/21/2017 06:31:47 am
Oh my gosh, this tiny library is too much! I want to explore and read these tiny books! I had seen tiny books of course, in bookbinders forums and the like, but I had no idea this tiny library existed. What a great treat to see it. Are you going to try your hand at making a tiny book? I can see the binding process being challenging enough but the content seems particularly difficult to me. Thank you for sharing. This was completely in to read.
11/21/2017 06:51:51 pm
This is really interesting. It reminds me China has kinds of book like this. It is called comic strip (Lianhuanhua).It is really tiny so that people can put them in the pocket. It was originated from Han dynasty and getting popular in the 1950s. It can be classified as different topic: New Year paintings, cartoon,television drama and so on. And it is amazing there is still some place are making these books today. Because most comic strip are collected by some private collectors. Did you ever read these tiny books before? My parents don't have collection, so I don't have chance.
11/21/2017 07:29:13 pm
I think the idea of shops making miniature books is interesting because there is no use practical use for them as far as reading goes. I wonder about the logistics of tiny bookmaking, who makes this? why do they do it? who buys the tiny books?
11/21/2017 08:46:17 pm
Very interesting about the library of miniature books!
11/21/2017 10:43:23 pm
Wow, miniature anything intrigues me! I am amazed there are businesses that specialize in miniature books in different regions of the US and the world. My childhood nostalgia longs for building barbie libraries or them reading bedtime stories amongst themselves. There is an implication of a secret message or hidden code due to the impracticality of actually reading these books. I am always intrigued when function seems inaccessible or impractical, and become curious if the audience is more the artist than others in these situations. There is also an association to pocket bibles or poem books, as reminders of carrying a message about behavior or beliefs. Thank you so much for sharing this information!
12/7/2017 05:34:17 pm
It's so interesting how these are not meant to be read by humans yet there can be so much detail and effort put into them! The dedication is unreal but it shows in the works! I have always been into everything miniature and have fortunately had the opportunity to hold one at ASU's special collections!
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