I fell in love with my first dollhouse at the age of 4.  It was a metal hand-me-down from my sister with plastic furniture and I played with it every day until my parents gave me a lovely wood dollhouse for my 5th birthday.  I remember the enchantment of playing with my make-believe family in the little rooms.  The walls were bare but the tiny house came alive every afternoon after I raced home from kindergarten to serve mini tea and cake to my tiny dolls.  That dollhouse was my favorite toy until it broke beyond repair when I was a teen.  I cried for days and though I didn't realize it at the time, my fascination with the Land of Lilliput had just begun and it's remained with me ever since.  When I discovered there were adult collectors out there, people like me who loved everything tiny, it inspired me to build a grown up dollhouse!  In 1981 my father and I built the Tennyson by Greenleaf together in the family basement.  Little did I know it would be the first of many.

Bitten by the miniature bug, I built and sold several dollhouses including the Cambridge by Dura-Craft and several shops by Real Good Toys.  Then I started 'kit-bashing', which is the art of altering kits to make them unique.  I 'bashed' two Cambridge dollhouses by joining them together, creating a fabulously large dollhouse like the stately homes I read about in romance novels- but I still wasn't satisfied.  I needed a dollhouse that was more like a mansion than a house.

During a lucky trip to my local dollhouse shop, Dollhouses Plus, I began chatting with the owner, Millie Smith, and she was so impressed with my enthusiasm, she hired me as a consultant for dollhouse interior design!  Millie taught me all the ways to transform my kitbashed dollhouse into the mansion of my dreams and I'm forever grateful for her generist in sharing skills and advice.  Before I knew it I was helping customers coordinate wallpaper, tiles, molding, wood, wainscoting, lighting, textiles and other various architectural elements to achieve their miniature dreams!

When the owner of a local hair salon (John L. DiMenna) asked if we were interested in selling his handmade bird houses I could not have imagined he would, eventually, offer to build my dream dollhouse- a custom design from scratch!  Armed with only a few photographs of The Elms in Newport, RI for inspiration, John was commissioned to build Crown Jewel Manor.  The only dollhouses he had built until then were a few kits for Millie but you can see the wonderful job he did here: Crown Jewel Manor!

I loved my job and Millie and I went to all the shows, trade shows included, to scout out tiny treasures but meeting fellow miniaturists was the most rewarding experience of all.  Random people would pop into the shop with handmade minis, sharing techniques, asking for advice and selling some of the most incredible miniatures.  Barbara Par brought in her amazing Victorian gazing balls, Cheryl Riello shared her magnificent character dolls and the parade of talent went on and on!  Dissastisfied with the unrealistic dollhouse food on the market, I began making my own and our customers began to ask for custom orders.

It was a sad day when Millie closed the shop to retire.  I still cherish the people I met, the places we visited and the knowledge I gained.  Over time most of the brick and mortar dollhouse shops in New England, and then across the country, closed due to their inability to compete with craft stores and online shops with no overhead.  Energized with an "If you can't beat 'em, join 'em" spirit, I decided to launch my own online business. 

In late March of 2010 I created an Etsy shop, registered with eBay, built a website and joined various social media sites- and Crown Jewel Miniatures was born.  My initial creations were random- jewelry, furniture (from scratch and kits), accessories, a little food and even a Crown Jewel Miniatures Market shopping cart!  I was all over the board until custom request began coming in for more miniature food.  With a pile of polymer clay and a fierce determination to make the most realistic 1:12th scale food available I whipped up enough bread and cheese to fill almost every dollhouse in New England... and that's where it all began.   

I am a self-taught miniaturist but I gratefully acknowledge Angie Scarr who pioneered a disciplined approach to 1:12th food making.  Her invaluable books were an inspiration as I began crafting my own tools and repurposing various mediums.  

Ultimate realism has been the cornerstone of my art since Day 1.  Food is not 'perfect' and neither are my creations. I have no affinity for 'cookie cutter' miniatures or food that looks as if it came from a mold.  When a collector says "It looks good enough to eat" my inspiration is through the roof!  It's the very best feedback a miniature food artist can possibly receive.

Over the years I was encouraged to apply for Artisan status from the International Guild of Miniature Artisans.  I'd been a general IGMA member, on and off, for several years and attended many Guild shows, but I never believed my food art was good enough to submit for evaluation as Artisan.  My husband did however, and at his urging I applied and was certified as an IGMA Artisan in May 2014 in the category of Food.  It's an incredible achievement on my journey as a miniature food artist and I do my best to honor the distinction with each new piece I create. 

I owe my husband more than words can say.  He's my hero, the love of my life and his belief in me as a person and a miniaturist never fails- it's a daily example of the power of true love.  His support and encouragement of my art encouraged me to reach one of my dreams.  With a champion like him beside me the journey ahead seems much less of an uphill climb.  As I said on my Blog when I announced my Artisan status- when my hand isn't making miniatures, it's in his.

With support, love and mutual encouragement we can all achieve our dreams if we try.  Dream big, make it small and never give up mini friends! 


E-mail me with your story!  I would love to know how you became interested in miniatures!


Robin Brady-Boxwell, IGMA Artisan


Still have questions? Please contact me at anytime! I look forward to hearing from you and I'm here to help!

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