James Heuser: Wee Woodworking

August 29, 2017 – December 17, 2017

This temporary exhibit features miniature woodwork created by Green Valley resident, James Heuser.

This exhibit is included with museum admission or free for museum members.

Exhibit Overview

James Heuser was introduced to woodworking in his high school shop class. The class was significant to James because for the first time he found himself excelling in a school subject. James grew up dyslexic in an era when dyslexia was misunderstood and often went undiagnosed, causing students like James to be labeled as poor students. The shop class gave James a new outlook and self-confidence in his abilities. He discovered that he was adept at using tools and could understand the project plans, allowing him to create beautiful things from wood. This positive experience nurtured a life-long love of woodworking.

In 1999, James and his wife Carol were living in a modest condo in New Jersey, and he was busily making plans to build a decorative wooden wagon. Carol pointed out that they really didn’t have room for a full size wagon and suggested he build a miniature version, instead. The creative challenge of carving something small and intricate, with multifaceted moving parts, excited and intrigued James. The entire process opened his eyes to the pleasure of working in miniature scale, and from this time forward he became absorbed in small-scale woodworking.

Although initially crafting in his own modified scale, James soon began producing in the standardized 1:12 scale, ensuring that all of his pieces could inhabit the same setting. Through a process of trial and error, he quickly found that the right tools and lots of fine grit sandpaper make all the difference. A customized 6” x 6” table saw and a tiny lathe allow him to carefully cut and turn tight-grain woods to create his pieces.

After the couple moved to Green Valley, Arizona, in 2002, James was delighted to discover that the Community Center has a woodshop, providing access to a variety of tools as well as refreshing comradery. His fellow woodworkers, designing full-size pieces, will frequently offer up leftover pieces and odd scraps of their fine-grade woods such as cherry and maple – just the right amount for a miniature dresser, chair, or maybe a tiny turned bowl.

James Heuser

James is always seeking to improve his skills, selecting new projects with ever-increasing difficulty. His most ambitious piece has been the Wells Fargo Wagon, created in 2012. Working strictly from historic photos of Wells Fargo’s iconic stagecoach, he designed and reproduced the wagon, chasse, and luggage from wood, metal and fabric. Currently, James strives to miniaturize contemporary designs by recognized artisans. Inspired by designs featured in Fine Woodworking magazine, he is especially drawn to those with complex and sophisticated structures.

Related Programs

Meet the Artist I: Meet James Heuser and watch him demonstrate some of his techniques. Saturday, October 21, 2017 1pm–4pm. Included with museum admission.

Meet the Artist II: Meet James Heuser and watch him demonstrate some of his techniques. Saturday, November 25, 2017 1pm–4pm. Included with museum admission.

About the Community Corner

The Mini Time Machine Museum of Miniatures’ Community Corner, opening May 9th, 2017, is an exhibit space located in our Exploring World Galley dedicated to featuring the work of talented Tucson-area miniature artisans, or artists who use miniatures as their medium. The space will host three exhibits annually. Exhibits will demonstrate the diversity of miniature artwork that is being created in our community, from traditional fine-scale craft to cutting edge artistic expression, that takes shape on a miniature scale.

Exhibit Support:​

This exhibit is supported in part by the Arizona Commission on the Arts, which receives support from the State of Arizona and the National Endowment for the Arts.