Scenes from Salvaged Scraps: Debbie Gill’s Miniature Rooms

June 5, 2018–August 26, 2018

Miniature artist Debbie Gill only uses materials slated for the trash to make her miniatures. Plastic lids, pieces of broken jewelry, fabric scraps, Styrofoam, small broken appliances, plastic packaging, catalogues, magazines, and salvaged cardboard are just some of the types of materials she repurposes. She has bins of donated recyclable material, which she transforms into miniature household objects like a TV remote, a lamp, an armoire, a lawn mower or bicycle. Her ambition is creating realistic-looking miniature rooms at zero cost.


Debbie Gill has always had a love and passion for interior design. At an early age she felt the urge to create, paint, and build small rooms so she could arrange furniture, and coordinate fabrics, color and textures. Her first dollhouse was a gift from her father. After building the dollhouse, he offered Debbie a catalogue of miniature furniture so she could select and order furnishings for it. Five-year-old Debbie thumbed through the catalogue feeling puzzled- none of the furniture looked anything like the chairs and tables of the 1960s suburban homes familiar to her. Since she couldn’t find anything that she recognized, Debbie decided to use her imagination and the wood scraps discarded from the making of her dollhouse to create her own modern dollhouse furniture.

miniaturist Debbie Gill

Debbie Gill

From then on, Debbie followed her passion for interior decorating by modeling miniature rooms. Her rooms represent the middle class homes of her era, the 1960s through today. In the beginning, she kept her passion for miniatures to herself and therefore developed unconventional techniques for building her tiny spaces. Her dad’s bulky dangerous tools did not suit her, so she experimented with kitchen utensils including butter knives, spatulas and thermometers, to create her miniatures.

Debbie Gills photos of process

Armoire from cardboard, process shots

Debbie still uses many of what she admits are, “seemingly crazy tools” to create her miniatures, but primarily she utilizes scissors, an X-Acto knife and pliers. She doesn’t use specialty woods or dollhouse kits like traditional miniature artisans, either. Instead, all of her roomboxes and furnishings are crafted from salvaged scraps. Furthermore, she creates everything free hand- no patterns or templates. Her approach is to eye a piece of furniture that she is interested in building, until she feels she understands how it is constructed. Then she just starts cutting out and fitting together pieces of cardboard until she has created a sturdy piece of furniture. Once built, she uses faux finish paintings techniques to disguise the materials. These days Debbie shares her work with others through social media. Her fans often send her items asking her to include them in her next room, which gives her great pleasure. Debbie says what motivates her to work toward the next level of realism is “hearing that there is no way my furniture could be cardboard and being able to create a realistic room despite being made (with salvaged scraps) at zero cost.”

Learn more about Debbie Gill's Mini World on her Facebook and Instagram pages.

Associated Events and Programs

Members Reception and Meet the Artist: June 7, 2018 | 5pm–6:30pm


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.