17.3 C
Niagara Falls
Monday, June 5, 2023
Life writ small: NOTL woman is downsizing her village of miniatures
Cindy Carter has been making miniatures for around 60 years, each project can take anywhere from weeks or months to finish. (JULIA SACCO)

As she walks through her hobby room, Cindy Carter can’t help but to gush over the details of her work with great pride. 

From mansions to hair salons, she has recreated scenes from her life and her dreams, at a scale that can fit into one room of the house. 

“Everything I do is at a 1/12th scale,” so one inch equals one foot.

Now, she is hoping to downsize.

She began her journey into miniatures about 60 years ago when she was just a child growing up in Dain City, now a suburb of Welland.

“My mother taught me how to knit and crochet, and my father, whenever we would go somewhere, he would buy me these dolls,” Carter reminisces. 

“It all kind of skyrocketed from there.”

Ever since then, Carter has made numerous houses, displays, dolls and furniture pieces representing things she loves and holds dear

Two pieces that stand out are a replica of her childhood home and a separate piece made as an homage to her late mother.

The home replica features tiny details cleverly constructed to recreate a feeling of childlike wonder.

Everything, down to a replica of her mother’s elephant statue from the 1940s, is as exact as it could possibly be. 

In the homage to her mother, Carter utilized old watches to create the storefront of a clock store, complete with a sales clerk and in-store cat. She finds it to be a great use of her mom’s accessory of choice. 

“I’m a very sentimental person that way.”

In order to create these elaborate scenes and memories, Carter says she uses “just about anything and everything.”

“Pieces of cardboard, you’ll see that my winery is made out of a piece of Styrofoam but you wouldn’t know that by looking at it. Play-Doh from the dollar store is great,” she says.

“And a little bit of paint goes a long way to disguise things.”

One of her more creative uses of everyday objects can be seen in an underwater display made for her now-teenaged grandchildren.

A scuba diver is underwater with what appears to be an oxygen tank, which the miniaturist fashioned out of a recycled tampon applicator. 

“There are so many things that people would just throw in the garbage, whereas I think ‘How can I use that,’ ” Carter laughs. 

Miniatures have been a staple in Carter’s life. From her beginnings in Niagara, to her time as the wife of a Canadian diplomat in Warsaw, she always found time for hobbies.

“We were there from June-July of 1984 and we came back in early September, Labour Day weekend of 1986.”

“I was one of the wives who would host cocktail parties and certain functions with the ambassador and diplomatic dinners,” she says.

Now, though, Carter cites some serious health issues as her reason for downsizing the collection.

“I’d rather do this now, so that I know it’s going to a good home and it is going to be appreciated,” she says. 

In her time selling off select pieces, Carter has amassed a regular clientele.

One couple travels regularly from Brantford. “They have bought a bit of furniture. There’s a box in there now with some stuff they’ve put away.”

“She’ll call and say, ‘OK, we’re gonna come up this weekend,’ and I’ll tell them how much it’s going to cost, because it’s cash only,” Carter says. 

Don’t let her plans to downsize fool you, though. This is not the end of Carter’s miniature making.

“I meet with a lady in town once a week and we work on a project. We’ve reached a point now that neither of us has any more room, so everything we make, we donate!”

Anyone interested in purchasing some of Carter’s pieces can reach her “the old-school way” on her landline at 905-468-5063.

Subscribe to our mailing list