As someone who fondly remembers her childhood hobbies, I am comforted when I meet fellow Lawrentians that have continued to act on their non-academic passions while in college.While many have fallen to mislabeling practice time and reading 18th century literature as hobbies, freshman Emily Blair, a self-proclaimed hobbyist, makes up for the rest of us. Blair is not only a miniature enthusiast but also does origami, scrapbooking, and beading.
Her dedication and talent for the art of miniatures was recognized this past January when she was awarded a $500 scholarship to attend this year’s National Association of Miniature Enthusiasts (NAME) convention. The scholarship will not only cover the $215 registration fee and lodging while at the conference, but will also leave her ample spending money to support fellow crafters.
Upon learning of Blair’s hobby of “miniatures,” I couldn’t help but question “miniature what?” I soon found that the world of miniature is about as varied as the Croc color palette.
“I look at everyday life and ask myself, ‘could I make that in miniature?'” explained Blair, who last year taught a group of fellow miniature enthusiasts how to make a sushi set 1/12 the size it is in real life.
As one could imagine, the world of miniatures is pretty complex. While 1/12 is the average miniature scale, some deranged souls take pleasure in creating miniature scenes at small as 1/625 of life-size, the result of which can fit on your fingertip.
Blair’s interest in miniatures piqued when she was just eight years old and received a hand-built dollhouse from her grandparents. “I started making extra accessories and furniture out of paper,” said Blair. “I didn’t really think beyond that until I saw a polymer clay book at the library when I was 11.”
She promptly checked out the book, at the encouragement of her mother the librarian, sparking an aptitude for working with polymer clay that she still holds today. While most miniaturists favor woodworking, textiles, or toothpick painting, Blair is the polymer clay expert in her club.
As one of 25 people in the Small Passions Miniature Club in Plaistow, N.H., Blair holds the place of youngest member with little threat. “The next youngest person is around 35 and after that, the age of the members goes all the way up to 80 or so,” said Blair. Each month, a different person teaches a new project, ranging from mini suitcase sets to beaded purses, providing each member with a corresponding kit.
Upon finding out about the convention, which had not been held in New England in Blair’s lifetime, she knew she had to find a way to get there. Blair saved her Christmas and birthday money to use towards the registration fee for NAME’s “Castles and Cottages” convention, which will be held July 24-27.
When she fell short of saving the $215, Blair began selling some of her crafts at Kindred Spirits, capitalizing on the Fox Valley craft market. In the midst of this, Blair told her friend Jean — a fellow miniature enthusiast back home — of her difficulties.
Recognizing the opportunity the conference represented for Emily, Jean notified NAME’s second vice president. At NAMES’s last board meeting, the second vice president read this e-mail to the board, detailing Blair’s determination to garner funds. It was through this meeting that NAME decided to award $500 to Blair’s mission.
“Supposedly before she even finished reading the e-mail, the members had passed a cup around and collected $180 towards my cause,” Blair relayed with a smile.