When visitors come to our museum, they may find themselves astonished by the skill and craftsmanship of the artisans, or swept up in the romance of the love-worn antiques, or simply intrigued by the ancient history of humanity’s fascination with miniatures. But there is something else at play within our walls – an inescapable feeling of nostalgia, a persistent tingle of fond childhood memories that trigger unexpected pleasure. This is a place that can make a person feel like a kid again, that proverbial state of mind of the blissfully young at heart. The world of miniatures by its very design allows us to look at the world through the fresh eyes of wonder. Our Museum Founder, Pat Arnell, is known to tell curious museum-goers that she’s “just a kid who never grew up,” always spoken with a little grin. The Museum is filled with her playful touches, the most beloved of all being our mascot, the fairy Caitlin, who hides throughout the galleries in her many disguises. Pat loves fairies and the rich traditions of fairy lore, making it no surprise that she was drawn to the work of Sue Ann “LadyBug” Thwaite.
Sue Ann Thwaite, known professionally as LadyBug, is regarded as a kind and fanciful spirit in the miniature world. Her miniature scenes and creatures are born from the realms of imagination, deeply rooted in a love for nature and the joyous mischief of fairy folk. In her article, “The Lady Bug Spell,” Marta Bender writes of how Thwaite works primarily with found objects from her environment, assembling buildings just as she did as a young girl during her summers in the Appalachian mountains.1 Thwaite tells Bender of how her “Pap didn’t believe in store-bought toys…he believed that you lived off the land. On a rainy Saturday afternoon, he’d give us a box of toothpicks that we’d use to make log cabins. We would walk along a path and pick up sticks and leaves. When our hands got too full, we’d stop and build little fairy houses.”2 This sort of creative process comes very easily to children, which is why Thwaite has such a wonderful rapport with the children who stop by her booth or attend one of her workshops. Continue reading a pdf of this article >>