Is there anything better than a miniature? Whether it’s the attention to detail or the satisfaction of watching a hamster go to town on a tiny burrito, miniature versions of everyday things can warm even the coldest of hearts. Unsurprisingly, the quarantine has awakened the long-dormant hobby gene in many around the world, and thankfully, a few miniature makers are sharing their masterpieces with the rest of us.
Earlier this week, game designer Melissa Kay posted videos of MK Video, an adorably welcoming video store, complete with snacks, magazines, flashing neon signs, and a legit-as-hell horror section (from our view, we spot copies of C.H.U.D., The Gate, Evil Dead, and other video store classics). Of course, what cinephile church would be complete without an Elvira cutout to oversee the proceedings—Kay knows what she is doing. MK Video is the perfect balm for those nostalgia itches, and you don’t have to buy some expensive Blockbuster merch to enjoy it.
Kay says this is her first book nook, a “tiny dioramas that fit neatly on your bookshelf between books” that are undoubtedly “very cute.” The whole thing took Kay about four weeks, and the devil is in the details. “The tapes alone probably took me about a good week and lots of trial and error,” she wrote via Twitter DM.
I sculpted a few of the toys, radio, etc, constructed some shelves, made mini magazines with real magazine pages, and picked up the cool ‘blinking’ open sign on eBay. Learning how to make the neon vhs sign was probably the biggest challenge—I had never worked with LEDs before. Overall, I’m pleased with how it turned out—I know my next ones will be even better. I’m learning how to incorporate sound and video in a futuristic cyberpunk one as we speak!
Sitting right next to MK Video is the “Haha Hole,” comedian Sara Schafer’s incredibly true-to-life tiny comedy club. Schafer has spared no expense on construction, building a little green room (with charging iPhone, veggie plate, and cheese and crackers, of course), show posters, setlists, and a beautiful wall of fame of autographed headshots from “Haha Hole” regulars.
Schaefer is a lifelong lover of little things but became obsessed with the idea of building a comedy club that is 1:12 the scale of a normal one. That would take time. “It took me about one month, putting in long days (sometimes 14 hours) to complete the project,” she wrote via Twitter DM. And much like, Kay, who let her love of VHS tapes drive the project, Schaefer reflected on her own life in comedy for inspiration.“As I worked on it I found myself meditating on my own comedy career, the comedy club system, and my place in it.”
The comedian also allowed the miniature to provide some overdue corrections to today’s club scene. “When I started working on the headshots, I thought it would be great to feature comedians I love. Dioramas and dollhouses are, after all, a type of fantasy,” she wrote. “But then I realized it would be funny to do all-female comedians, except for like two men. The reverse of what you see in many clubs across the country. The men I chose were Carrot Top and Jeff Dunham because I kind of wanted to make men feel the way women do when they scan the club wall for the ‘token’ women. Are those two women people you relate to? Two people you think are funny?”
As the HaHa Hole project grew, Schaefer filled in the gaps of the club’s backstory, creating a club owner named Teensy, “a gatekeeper, with her own erratic tastes that everyone must reckon with.”
The gratification of scanning these miniatures for the smallest details is only matched, Sara says, by the understanding gleaned from building one:
It made me think about how comedy clubs are, by their very nature, small boxes incapable of fitting the vast universe of talent out there. Hopefully, that doesn’t sound too philosophical but when you’re spending ten hours trying to get microscopic hinges on a mini minifridge to work, you start thinking more deeply about what you’re doing and why. I plan to do more with the mini club, and I’m excited about that! It’s been one of the most inspiring things I’ve ever create.
The only thing left to do is hope that one of the quarantine hobby hounds built a shrinking ray that would allow us to enter these little locations for real. Or, maybe they’ll post a video of a hamster eating a piece of popcorn in them, whichever comes first, really.