At Unique L.A., miniature worlds steal the craft show

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Last weekend’s third annual Unique L.A. spring show at the bustling California Market Center was full of scenes, but some were of the quiet, contemplative sort.

Look closely and you will spot the tiny figures that stole the show in whimsical works crafted by Lisa Swerling of Glass Cathedrals and Bianca D’Amico of Terri Planty.


‘There is something about extreme smallness that people really love,’ said Swerling of the German toy railway figures she uses in her shadow boxes. ‘The little figures have the sense of owning the box.’

Swerling’s narratives begin at $350 and include the humorous (a woman sweeping up pink glitter) to the touching (a couple sleeping soundly together underneath twinkling stars with the simply typed title, ‘May we grow old together’). All are arresting.

Especially popular were her custom family tree shadow boxes. ‘People describe their families and pets to me, and I tweak them and carve their names into the family trees,’ she said.

Los Angeles-based artist D’Amico’s booth featured playful terrariums and plantings made up of tillandsias, succulents, cacti, rocks, feathers and seemingly anything else you could think of. Starting at $22 and averaging about $60, her one-of-a-kind pieces had a delightful cadre of carefully placed characters hula-hooping or teeter-tottering, as well as mermaids and assorted critters.

‘I see it as a way to create environments that flirt with your imagination and make a statement without being too aggressive,’ D’Amico said.

See more of her terrariums on Sunday when she hosts a pop-up shop and sale of vintage modern furniture with Morgan of the Brick House and Modernhaus from noon to 5 p.m. at Elephant Space, 3325 Division St., Glassell Park.

Look for D’Amico and Swerling one more time at the Renegade Craft Fair on July 16 and 17.

-- Lisa Boone

Photo credits: From top, Glass Cathedrals, Glass Cathedrals, Terri Planty


Miniature dioramas at Goldbug in Pasadena