Break out the marmalade, Paddington Bear turns 60 this year!
On October 13, 1958, Michael Bond published the first book about our favorite ursine from darkest Peru, A Bear Called Paddington.The novel was inspired by a stuffed bear Bond rescued from a department store shelf on Christmas Eve, and it took all of ten days to write.
Today, Paddington boasts an international following with some 70 titles translated into 30 languages, with 30 million copies sold. A beloved British institution, Paddington shows no signs of slowing down with two very successful feature films, oodles of merchandising, and commemorative coins issued by the Royal Mint.
We can’t think of a better way to celebrate than by chatting with award winning author/illustrator R.W. Alley, who’s been drawing Paddington since 1997. Though there have been several other Paddington artists through the years (Peggy Fortnum was the first), to my knowledge only Mr Alley has illustrated Paddington quite as long, and in all formats — novels, picture books, board books, and early readers. He’s also the only American among the Paddington artists.
I was delighted to see so many of my favorite authors and poets (Jane Austen, Louisa May Alcott, the Brontë sisters, Emily Dickinson, Laura Ingalls Wilder, James Joyce) in miniature form, and impressed by the quality of workmanship, attention to detail, and amazing quantity and variety of figures available (600+ items currently listed at Etsy).
Debbie is an artist after my own heart. In addition to creating lots of writers, she also features the characters in their stories (Scarlett O’Hara, Anna Karenina, Anne Shirley, Sherlock Holmes, Mr. Darcy!). And just as fabulous as her literary dolls are her artists, musicians, singers, historical figures, movie stars and TV personalities (love the Three Stooges, Lucille Ball, Willie Nelson, Aunt Bea, Captain Kangaroo, The Marx Brothers, the Royal Family!).
You’re just in time to meet Stéphanie Kilgast, the supremely talented artisan who creates all the amazing miniature food sculptures at PetitPlat. 🙂
A couple of years ago, while browsing for food art on Etsy, I chanced upon PetitPlat and instantly fell for Stéphanie’s meticulously crafted, truly splendid banquet of French pastries, breads, cookies, fruits, cakes and candies. The realism and level of detail were so incredible I couldn’t believe my eyes. How did she do it? I immediately ordered Oreo cookie and submarine sandwich earrings which arrived on my doorstep lickety split, and have had so much fun wearing them ever since.
Stéphanie currently lives about 280 miles southwest of Paris. She was born in Frankfurt, Germany, speaks fluent French, English, and German, and has a Master’s degree in Architecture. While on summer break in 2007, a bored Stephanie looking for a new hobby discovered the world of miniatures and hasn’t looked back since.
She hand sculpts and assembles all the jewelry and 1:12 scale dollhouse miniatures she sells from scratch. Her work has been featured in international publications such as the New York Times, The Telegraph, BBC Brasil, Europa and American Miniaturist, and just last year she exhibited her work in Hong Kong. Crafters who work with polymer clay will be happy to know Stéphanie is currently working on a bilingual French/English tutorial book, hopefully to be released in May.
We thank Stéphanie for taking time from her busy schedule to tell us a little more about her love for food miniatures. Hers is a delightfully inspiring story of someone finding success by following her true passion, which is evident in every micro-mini baguette, St. Honoré, fruit tart, croissant and rainbow cake. She says colors and textures are her companions; “making you smiling and happy is the goal of my work.”