By Chris Bavender
Years ago, before Cy Raduchel and her husband, Bob, had kids, she would redecorate her house on a whim. So, she asked for a dollhouse for Christmas to decorate and redecorate whenever she wanted in the style she wanted.
“Which was and still is classic mid-century modern and modern. The house was very traditional, but I managed to make some changes to it and make it more modern,” she said. “Once we had kids I never got a chance to work on it, so I sold nearly everything.”
But about six years ago Raduchel decided, since the kids were older, she wanted to resume her hobby.
“Dollhouses are pretty expensive, and there weren’t any on the market I liked, so I designed and built my own mid-century, modern-style dollhouse. My husband helped me cut everything out and I assembled it,” said Raduchel, a Carmel resident. “The problem was that there weren’t any makers of modern or mid-century modern dollhouse furniture, so I started making my own.”
Today, her work sells globally to collectors through her Etsy shop, Mod Pod Miniatures, and has also been featured in ads and commercials. Raduchel is one of the very few miniature designers who works exclusively in mid-century modern.
“Honestly, it blows me away people actually pay me for these miniatures. I make a majority of the mini furniture and accessories on spec,” Raduchel said. “I also get a lot of special requests. Someone might send me a picture of a real piece of furniture and ask me to duplicate it in miniature or want something to go with what they already have.”
She finds inspiration all around her, from magazines to TV to ideas that simply pop into her head.
“Some of the time I look up the measurements of a real piece of furniture or measure the real furniture in our house and scale it down. One inch in miniature equals 1 foot in life-size,” Raduchel said. “As for the tools, I started with a small miter box from the craft store, and over the years I’ve accumulated some smaller scale power tools. A couple of small table saws, small tabletop belt sanders, and about a year ago I bought a tabletop laser cutter from eBay which has really expanded my ability to make fine details.”
She works mostly with cherry, walnut or maple wood but also has a supply of exotic woods to make “more interesting pieces.”
“I have a weakness for beautiful wood,” she said.
After building a house, she decorates each room one at a time, including the furniture. But you won’t find any dolls in her houses.
“Honestly, dolls kind of give me the creeps. I also buy a few things here and there from other artists,” she said. “On occasion I trade or swap with some of my ‘miniature friends’ I have met. These I keep for my own personal collection. You would be surprised by what people make in miniature and how amazingly realistic they are.”
The work takes time and patience.
“I’m my own worst critic. There are times when things don’t quite come together as I’d hoped, and I want to chuck it across the room. That’s when I put it down and walk away until the next day,” she said. “There have been times when I noticed a flaw after a piece is finished that I didn’t see while I was making it. If it’s a cool piece I will still sell it, but at a discount and make sure it’s noted as ‘flawed.’ Making miniatures is probably the only thing I’m a perfectionist about.”
For more, visit etsy.com/shop/ModPodMiniatures.