Born two months premature, Tina Mitchell began life quite tiny—just over three pounds. She would later become obsessed with the smallness of things. Her mother remembered her toddler’s fascination with the undersized, how she would crawl around the floor, examining what no one else could see—“the tinier the better,” according to Mitchell.
Now 31, Mitchell is a mother of three, a motivational speaker, and the current Ms. Boise Idaho. But she hasn’t forgotten her micro-sized past. Instead, Mitchell has created one of the quirkiest and entertaining stores on Etsy’s massive handcrafting marketplace: TinyTinaCreations, a commercial temple to the miniature.
These aren’t garden-variety miniatures. We’re talking really small. Her “tiny fancy decorated cake” isn’t much bigger than a dime.
The “tiny turd” (my personal favorite and her hottest seller) boasts only a half-centimeter of brown stuff, which is half the size of the accompanying tiny toilet paper.
You’d expect Mitchell’s workplace to be loaded with speciality tools: a giant magnifying glass, a precision laser. But her work, guided just be her naked eye, is done either entirely by hand or with the aid of very simple tools. “I use my fingers, a razor blade, and a needle,” she said. Her husband once bought her a magnifying glass, but she’s never used it.
“The only reason I don’t sculpt smaller is that it gets stuck in my thumbprint. If I were to drop it on the carpet it would be gone forever.”
The sculptures can be used as dollhouse props or just tiny standalones.The humble store has already been running for about seven years, and Mitchell estimates she makes about one to two sales a week.
Mitchell’s only explanation for her singular obsession is simply that she was born with it. “I think that liking tiny things must run in my family,” she said.
Her two boys, 5 and 8 years old, seem actively intent on proving her right. “The kids love it,” she said. “They’re always asking me to sculpt things for them. Make a car make a dinosaur!”
If you want something truly small, the smallest that Mitchell can make using her seemingly supernatural micro-sculpting powers, you’re out of luck. She created her online store only when she ran out of space for her own private collection. She still keeps her tiniest sculptures all to herself, including a series of nearly microscopic babies—her prize possession.
If you’re looking to build your tiny sculpture collection, now is a good time to start. Mitchel just launched her ever popular nativity collection, just in time for Christmas.
Photo via Tina Mitchell