Lakeland Miniature Guild: It’s a Small World by Meredith Jean Morris

Lakeland Miniature Guild: It’s a Small World
By Meredith Jean Morris

For a group of 863 hobbyists, it’s a small world, after all. They are the members of the Lakeland Miniature Guild, and their miniature structures include dollhouses, castles, tree houses, Japanese teahouses and fantasy scenes — all uniquely decorated to scale.

“Most of our members had dollhouses as a child and are intrigued by seeing and holding everyday items in miniature,” says Carol Kira, of the Lakeland Miniature Guild. “We are a collection of ‘would be’ interior decorators, architects, artists, fashion designers, jewelers, machinists and on and on.”

The club was started in 1985, by 15 local enthusiasts meeting once a month to share and learn new techniques, Kira says of the club that now has 30 members. They organized the first Lakeland Miniatures Show in 1985, which has run annually ever since. This year’s show will be held June 27-29, at The Hilton Garden Inn, 3839 Don Emerson Drive, in Lakeland.

While the Lakeland Miniature Guild started 30 years ago, the hobby isn’t a new one.

Miniatures, both for play and collecting, have been around almost since the beginning of history. Items can be found in Egyptian tombs and throughout the ages. At this current time period, miniatures are holding second place — railroading is first — as a global hobby, Kira says.

“I joined the club in 1989, as most members do, because I had built a dollhouse for my daughter,” she says. “This hobby allows the enthusiast to venture into every area of creativity. We are lucky to have members who want to work with wood, paper, fabric, paint, beads, clay, finishes, patterns and more.”

The structures completed by the members range from club projects to individual pursuits.

“Each year, the club project coordinator — currently Pat Gazie — finds or designs a project to complete for exhibition at our annual show,” Kira says. “We learn and work on, at our meetings, various parts to the project — perhaps building a shop, learning to wallpaper the interior and brick the outside. We may make the signs and window displays, create the door and awning.

“On the inside we may build shelving or other furniture, learn to electrify the shop, and perhaps dress a porcelain doll in the period costume, complete with wig and jewelry. We often create miniature flowers, shrubs, pathways, and trees. You see, there are endless possibilities.”

Predominately, the hobbyists work in 1/12-inch scale, but also sometimes shrink to 1/24- and 1/48-inch scales to create structures that would be too large otherwise, Kira says.

The club meets to teach new techniques and ideas to club members on the fourth Wednesday of the month at the Mulberry Senior Center, in Mulberry.

“Once a year, we do a club project, which is designed and developed by our project chairman, who for the last several years has been myself,” says Pat Gazie.

The projects change each year.

“Last year we did a scene from the movie ‘Mirror Mirror,’ with Julia Roberts,” Gazie says. “It was the bedroom scene, with a fabulous round bed with a elaborate high tufted headboard, a chaise lounge, a vanity and mirror.”

Gazie says she designed a laser-cut mirror similar to the Venetian-designed elaborate mirrors in miniature, actual glass was used in this, which has not been done before, along with a glass top for the vanity.

“I taught the club every month a project for this room,” she says. “The first month was the headboard and bed, a pattern was designed and handed out to each member along with instructions on how to tuff it. Everyone took them home and did their homework and brought them back. Then, I worked with them in decorating their beds, dust ruffle, coverlet, then the headboard. We added pearls, tassels and handmade miniature roses for embellishments.”

This year’s project is an Enchanted Child Shop, Gazie says of the upscale elite children’s shop the guild members are creating.

“We provided each member with a solid wood box ready for them to embellish with pillars, a stained glass front window, a decoupage doll medallion in the center of the front of the building, a custom wall unit was designed and made for the back wall, a beautiful mural highlights the center of the bookcase, a puppet theater was made as a gift, a basket filled with all kinds of goodies to entice the customers, an over-the-top cradle, complete with canopy, a pram embellished with a crown and other items to complement the shop are taught every month to our members.”

Gazie joined the club in 2003, after attending the annual show.

“I love creating and designing room boxes and accessories,” she says. “It’s so amazing that from an idea and a little bit of foam core and poster board you can create these amazing miniature items. But, the thing I love and enjoy more than anything is teaching. I love teaching and sharing and seeing the excitement in each person’s face when they complete a piece and love it.”

Terrie A. Schairer also joined in 2003.

“I have always had an interest in miniatures and the things I have learned in the club have allowed me to make so many miniature scenes come to life in a way I could never have imagined,” Schairer says. “The club is made up of 30 of the most wonderful, talented ladies and gentlemen that I have ever had the pleasure of knowing.”

Gazie says she would encourage others to check out miniatures because it’s a hobby that every budget can enjoy.

“Being a part of the Lakeland Miniature Guild has brought me so much happiness, not only in the craft itself,” she says. “Some of my closet and best friends and friendships were made through the club. It’s been a wonderful 11 years of sharing, caring, teaching, making and enjoying miniatures with this truly talented group of ladies.”

For details about the 29th Annual Dollhouse and Miniatures Show and Sale, call 863-647-0066 or visit