Sunday, May 16, 2010

Big and Little

This was the second year in a row (and the third time altogether) that Lana and I were able to attend the Texas Miniatures Showcase in Dallas. Despite the heavy workload that I get hit with every May, I hate to miss one of the few opportunities we Texan miniaturists get to mingle with the true artists in the field of miniatures. I worked overtime last week in order to get caught up with the work crush so I could head to Dallas with a clear conscience.

We headed out Friday morning, bound for Big D and the anticipation of three hours that evening to roam two large hotel ballrooms of miniatures displayed by artists who had traveled from all over the country to show us their work.

We took our time along the way, stopping to explore a big antiques mall in Bellmead, just north of Waco. Shortly after we resumed our journey, we began to watch dark blue storm clouds starting to roll in from the west. I had hopes that we would be able to outrun the storm, but it hit us broadside about 40 miles south of Dallas. It was, in the words of Andy Griffith, a real frog-strangler. We slowed to a crawl and debated whether the smarter thing would be to continue on and possibly drive out from under it, or to pull off and take our chances on finding a place to sit it out.

Unfortunately the rain was coming down so hard that we had no idea where we were and we didn't know if the exits would be flooded. We decided that it would be best to continue on, so we followed the example of our fellow travelers, turned on our emergency lights to increase our visibility to others, and kept moving. Slowly. The rain came down in sheets and continued without let up until we had almost reached the Dallas city limits. Thankfully it finally eased up as we joined the Dallas freeway traffic. With the able assistance of the GPS system in Big Red, we located our hotel and got checked in with enough time for a rest before the show began. I, for one, needed it.

We were glad we were staying in the same hotel as the show and there was no need to get back in the car until we were to leave the next day. A little bit of rest and some food and we were ready to shop big for very tiny things.

Oh, the temptation. You see things at a miniatures show that you never see in shops or in catalogs. The vendors are true artists and most are selling one of a kind items only available at shows. Exquisite dolls, beautiful pieces of furniture that cost almost as much as the full-sized equivalent, unbelievable needlework, miniature food that looks good enough to eat, hand thrown pottery smaller than a thimble, flowers and plants and tiny oil paintings were just some of the wonders we saw. Along the corridors were displays of finely crafted roomboxes that almost make you throw up your hands in dispair at your own efforts.

The only flaw in the proceedings is that the older I get, the harder it is to inspect these tiny treasures. After the first hour my back was protesting loudly in response to the continual "stoop to see, stand to move, stoop to see" routine. I was having to whip off my glasses to get a good, clear look at the displays. And I wasn't alone. Dollhouse enthusiasts who frequent these shows are like genealogists. The majority of both groups are middle-aged. It takes some disposable income and getting the kids out of the house to be able to really indulge in both hobbies. There were a lot of us whipping off glasses and groaning as we struggled upright.

The first time I attended the Dallas show, I passed on an item that I really, really wanted because it was really, really expensive. I've long regretted that spurt of willpower and have been looking for that item ever since. Nowadays when I see something that really pulls at me, I am more likely to indulge myself and live with the guilt. After cruising the main room this year, I was beginning to think that I was going to escape that guilt this time around. I even made it most of the way around the second ballroom before I knew I was in trouble.

There was a gentlemen from Spain who was displaying some really fine furniture pieces. My eyes zoomed right into a display of tiny lace-making pillows with tiny wood bobbins. The paper patterns were pinned to the pillows, the pins were just barely visible, the lace was in progress, a few loose wooden bobbins were scattered under the table and each of them had a cat thinking about messing the whole thing up. One of those little pillows would, I knew, look absolutely wonderful sitting in the corner of my knitting store.

They were way, way, way too expensive and I talked myself out of buying one. I went to bed, congratulating myself on being sensible, but feeling a little disappointed. By morning, my willpower had taken a powder. I did not want to regret passing up this opportunity, so I decided to take another look and see if they were as great as I had thought they were the night before. I managed to fight the impulse for another hour, but I finally gave in. It's a little hard to see the incredible detail of the piece in this picture, but let me just tell you that the little porcelain bowl is full of tiny little pins, the wooden basket on the floor is full of incredibly small, turned bobbins and spools, and the lace pillow is perfect in every detail. I refuse to feel guilty about indulging myself, even if I end up having to eat beans and macaroni all month.

We decided to visit the local dollhouse store before we left town and found some additional items we just had to have. It was a little after noon when we turned Big Red for home. The drive south was much less stressful than the trip north. We took in another antique mall on the opposite side of the highway in Bellmead, and got back in time for me to spend a little time in a small bookstore in Georgetown, where I found 3 new local history books to add to my collection.

I got home to a joyful greeting from Boo and Scout, who spent the evening enjoying their rare opportunity to sit in Mommy's lap and curl up beside Mommy in bed, without two dogs fussing at them. The house is way too quiet without Mojo, Coco and Dixie prowling around. I was driving into the parking lot at Collie Cottage on the stroke of the hour they open on Sunday. Now we are unwinding from our respective weekend outings. We are all happy and content.

I really can't wait until the May work madness dies down so I can find the right place for all these new miniatures that came home with me.

And I can't wait until next May when we do it all over again.


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