"I'm a very multifaceted person and artist," says miniaturist Alice Zinn."I have wide reaching areas of interest in both my personal life and my art. I'm not sure that an artist can separate those two things anyway."
Alice was born in New York City, but grew up mostly on suburban Long Island and attended the University of Bridgeport in Connecticut. While in school she designed and made costuming for local rock and roll bands, made marionettes and hired out for children's birthday parties, and for a short time partnered in a designer golf and tennis clothing business with a friend. After her schooling she embarked on a several year long career as a graphic artist, something she still enjoys doing until this day.
She married in 1972 and divorced in 1986, and then she moved to Florida. She has no formal art education, and says that most of the skills she uses in her professional career in miniatures have been self taught through a process of trial and error. "The knowledge seems to have just sprung from me organically."
In the late 70s, Alice began creating miniatures professionally. She started with assorted contemporary accessories at a time when everyone else working in miniature was "doing" Victorian. Then she moved on to making pets. At first these were soft sculpture parrots, rabbits and guinea pigs. "But soon polymer clays came on the market. So I switched to those and began making all sorts of dogs, cats and every other animal you can imagine." She began making realistic animals that were furred or feathered. She says, " I didn't want a statue of a dog or cat in my dollhouse, I wanted the mini animals to represent pets the same way dolls represent people."
Eventually, she added lines of Egyptian, Art Nouveau and Art Deco accessories, taxidermy animal rugs and heads, safari and circus items and flocks of feathered birds, dolls and furniture from Ancient Egypt to contemporary. She says with a laugh, "I've already made and discontinued more items than I even remember making!" And she has plans for many more new lines on the drawing board Her workshop, the better part of a two car garage, she describes as "It looks like a craft store, a fabric store and a home decor store married and had a herd of offspring!". She says she can be working at 2 AM and need a particular supply and find it in her "stash" of fabrics, findings, beads, leather, plastics, metals and so much more.
Alice has also written and self published several "How-to" booklets and written magazine articles. Her work appears in more than 10 museums worldwide, including a whole circus in a shop and museum in Charleston SC, and private collections too numerous to count.
In 1980 Alice was a founding Board member of the international organization CIMTA, the Cottage Industry Miniaturists Trade Association. She has traveled all forty-eight contiguous states visiting miniature shops to sell or teach, and has also been to Japan and England to do the same. She makes and sells kits, offers workshops, and is available to teach groups and clubs.
Alice has used her miniature work as fund raisers for homeless pets after the Florida hurricanes of the early 2000s, and for homeless pets after Louisiana's hurricane Katrina. Her charity project last year was a piece for Habitat for Humanity, seen below. In the fall of 2013 she became involved in project, a children's book in both real-life and miniature sizes, as well as miniatures of Sassafrass herself, being sold as fund raisers for both the Humane Society and Canine Companions for the disabled. Here's a link to the web site for information on and ordering this book: https://sassafrassjones.com
When asked what her inspirations are, she answers,"Everything interests me. In fact, just about everything inspires me." A shape, a texture, or something she hears or reads. She defines art as a conversion of something experienced by one or more of the senses, reprocessed through the brain of the artist and translated into another medium."
Of course, sometimes inspiration comes from discovering a new art or craft product on the market, or from a customer request for a custom piece. Many times this designer makes something just because it has "occurred to me and love the challenge."
Alice says laughing, "I have more ideas than I can possible accomplish in my lifetime. I strive to always get just a "little" bit better with every miniature I make."