Great talent runs in Fiore family, specially when it comes to miniatures. I had the privilege and pleasure to visit them at their Studio. Each little spot you look at grants great discoveries! And here I share what I learned from them.
Pictures in the end.
Regina: I’m a retired CSI.
Anna Helena: I retired as a Social Worker, I was a director at Iprem (Social Security Department of the city).
Qual a formação original de vocês?What is your professional background?
We’ve always liked to play, every since we were little girls. When we retired, we decided to keep on playing!...
Anna Helena: When I retired, I tried to find something to keep me busy. Those who lead an active life can’t get used to doing nothing. I found some cold porcelain courses and took them. But I had this tendency to make everything smaller…
Then I saw a magazine with an article about Chu’s works. She’s a fantastic miniaturists. One of the firsts here to work on 1:144. I contacted her and had some classes - amazing ones! There, I also met Vivian Bick and Cristina, who makes water fountains. I became interested in miniatures, searched on the internet, and joined an Italian group, "Mini Italy", as my family is originally from Italy. There, Roselly, from a Brazilian group, MiniClube, invited me to join it here too. Here I met Pépp, Humberto, all the “gang”. I also learned a lot from my classes with Ivani Grande.
Regina: I joined in because Anna wanted to take her flowers to a show in Argentina with her friends, long before we got into miniatures. Argentina has great cold porcelain flower artists. Meanwhile, she had already met Chu and she took me to her classes, as she knew I loved small things. Back then I didn’t do anything, I just lurked. I didn’t have any patience for that kind of stuff. I’ve always been a little clumsy! But I liked Chu very much and I joined the classes. There we made a small house and a miniature flower shop. Anna Helena made all the flowers with cold porcelain and I made the display in wood. We took it to Argentina and ended up winning a prize! We came back all wound up. Chu “challenged” me one day. I can’t wait much to see things finished. And one day she made a small chair and told me that “one day” I’d be able to make one like that. I just couldn’t wait and started working right away. By the evening, my chair was ready! My father, who was a great and resourceful artist - he was good at different techniques, from painting to sculpting, I learned a lot just from watching him work - was very impressed. And this encouraged me. From then on I’ve been helping Anna Helena with her roomboxes.
How did you get into the world of miniatures?
I like to make plants with Japanese paper.
Anna, you started making miniatures with cold porcelain. Which is your favorite technique now?
We were visiting the country and we went to one of those shows. We were fascinated! For the next show we went to, we prepared a Halloween roombox. Actually, it was made under Chu’s guidance. But we love to add some humor to our work. For example, we added a parking lot for the witches brooms, things like that. The Americans loved it and we got first place in general category and second place for creativity. We got addicted! As we have a relative in the US, we go there as often as possible. And to the shows, of course.
From then on we’ve been making some friends there. We met Tom Bishop, who organizes the largest show there. But it’s way too expensive for us. We do sell some of our work to the dealers there, though. We also joined some American internet groups. In them, we met Alice Zinn, who always reports the shows in a way we love to read. Those new friends, that knowledge exchange is so good! We’ve already had Shirley Tague here, she stayed with us and even gave some free workshops to members of MiniClube!
At some point, we met some Italian miniaturists at those shows too. They invited us to take part at their shows in Italy and were very receptive. We took mainly typical Brazilian things like parrots, “Bahianas”, etc and we sold almost everything. We came back almost empty handed!
I already know you both go to several shows in the USA. When did it first happen?
No way! Quite the opposite! Precisely because there’s no miniature industry here, we need to come up with almost everything, from tools to materials. Thanks to that, Brazilians’ creativity is phenomenal!
Actually, we are pretty sure that Brazilian people are the greatest inventors. For everything they need, they’ll find a way to achieve it. “Necessity is the mother of inventions.”
As you know both worlds so well, are Brazilian miniaturists so far behind the foreign ones?
As we deal with small items, we have never had any trouble. But it’s important to keep in mind that we have business visa to the US and European citizenship.
Is it difficult, is there too much red tape to sell there (customs, visa)?
first published on 08/22/2008
Some friends of ours here do take commissioned works and send abroad, but we don’t do that. We’d rather take our items there when we travel. It not only helps pay for the trip costs, but it’s also a lot of fun! We meet people, see lots of miniatures…
Do you sell over the internet or only when you go to the shows?
That’s because we have too much fun here in Brazil! (laughs…) We have lots of human contact. It’s something that Europeans and Americans don’t have much. They isolate themselves in their houses, each one in their own place. Here, if you say: “You should come over some day”, even if you didn’t give them your address, they will find it out and WILL go! They’ll come, bring a friend, who’ll bring some food, and the party is on! This would never happen there. You must schedule a time to visit, confirm everything first… So miniatures and shows are a way to supply that need for human contact, to get closer.
Besides, they have tradition with miniatures.
Why hasn't the miniature hobby caught on in Brazil as it has in other countries?
People like miniatures, but they’re not used to it. We have some roomboxes at an exhibit called “Arte sem Tamanho”. Many people like to see it. But they often come to us and ask things like: “Oh, that’s so beautiful! But what would I do with something like that?...” We tell them that it could be used as an ornament at home, like a painting or a sculpture, but this kind of questioning shows how little people know about miniatures.
Do you think that miniatures will eventually take off here or things will remain always the same?
Regina: I dream of going to Tokyo’s show, in Japan.
Anna: I’d love to go to Birmingham show, in England. According to Angie Scarr - a lovely miniaturist - it’s the best show in Europe.
And what are your plans for the future (besides going to lots of shows in the US, :)...)?
Visit Minifiore 's website and see more pictures of their wonderful work.