What started off as a hobby is now a passion for Esther Marker. Esther ,makes tiny works of art that she sells online to a global market
Esther Marker firmly believes that small is beautiful. This woman crafts delicate miniature figurines which she sells on her website. A marine lawyer who practised in the Bombay High Court for seven years, Esther left her job when she met her husband, Martijn Van der Spek, a Dutch who was working in Thiruvananthapuram. The duo got married and moved to the city. “In Thiruvananthapuram I found little scope to practise the branch of law I loved so I started developing myself creatively and learning things that always fascinated me. The pace in the city allows for a lot of quiet time, which is perfect for art and sculpture,” says Esther.
Books were Esther’s teachers in the art of miniature making. She also joined forums, searched for online material and experimented. She also started taking online classes for other members of the miniatures community. “I did a class on the creating of miniature Venetian masks in 1/12th scale. How this worked is, I sent material packages to my students in advance, and on class day, we all logged into a chat room and I took them through the process of creating a mask step by step. Pictures detailing the steps were given and explained and by the end of an hour long class, most students had enough knowledge to complete their masks.”
She started her website, www.magicminiatures.com in 2002 as a hobby site, to showcase her work as she grew as an artist. One thing Esther loves about her field – miniatures, is that it’s a small and close community. Says Esther: “There are several forums and groups one can join, to have email contact with members. These are great communities where members share pictures and other information. I never really thought of these fora as a means of promoting my work, but to invite constructive criticism as an artiste. But when I share my photos, I would often get requests to purchase those items. To make things easier for potential buyers, I then started adding prices on my website.”
The first item she sold was a miniature ship called ‘The Star of Malabar’. “It was barely an inch long, but had sails made of thin silk and rigging from fine thread. A lady called Gay Wilhelm bought it. Although my initial contact with Gay was through its purchase, we have remained friends. In fact, Martijn and I visited Gay and her husband, Jerry, in Florida.”
But why miniature creations? “Miniatures are amazing to work on because I enjoy challenges. For an article to fit into a dollhouse, it needs to be a perfect 1/12th scale. There are even smaller scales, but I like 1/12th because it’s small yet with the correct skills and tools, one can add considerable detail,” says Esther who has experimented in miniature paintings, furniture, dolls, doll jewellery, tapestries, ships, cars and more. “In fact, I recently began working on masks.”
What Esther loves about the little world she has crafted for herself is that there are no rules or boundaries as an artist. “So, the world is my canvas, actually make that a miniature globe sitting in the palm of my hand.”
At start the only people who were interested in Esther’s works were mainly members of the miniatures community. But when she started creating dolls and sculpting fairies, she started attracting the interest of doll collectors internationally. “I was interviewed by The International Doll Collectors’ Magazine and received the ‘World of Froud, Froudian Artist Award’ for September 2006. This is a prestigious award given by Brian and Wendy Froud, who have worked on films such as Star Wars, Labyrinth and Dark Crystal. Wendy was hired to create and sculpt Yoda from the ‘Star Wars’ series.”