Sarah “Elaine” Scobey’s world got very big, when it got very small.
A girlfriend who correctly thought Elaine would enjoy attending an exhibition of Dollhouse Miniatures took her to a show in 1992. The micro-world piqued a huge interest from one of our newest residents that has never wavered.
“Love at first glance,” she said. “I was hooked. I’ve always enjoyed working with my hands and by all accounts I have the patience for putting together these miniatures—and it does take a lot of patience.”
Patient but eager. Elaine’s passion soon took her on educational trips to Chicago and Philadelphia for classroom time with famous “mini” artisans. She joined the Boca Raton-based Les Petits Collecteurs of South Florida and entered her works in numerous shows.
She began collecting the tools of the Miniaturist’s trade—X-acto knives, tweezers, squaring jigs, pins, needle, thread, small clamps and plastic baggies to protect her projects, among other items.
As easily as a chef discusses liquid measurements, Elaine can hold court on 1-inch scale—a widely accepted measurement whereby 1 inch in dollhouse scale is equal to 1 foot in real size.
“The bottom line is the items we work with are really small and they aren’t getting any bigger,” she joked.
The Freehold, NJ-native credits a personal and professional background of tiny type for paving her way to Miniature Dollhouses.
“My father was a printer. My husband (Russell) was a printer. I was a linotype machine operator for the Red Bank (NJ) Daily Register newspaper, so I was used to tiny work,” she said. “Russell was my boss at the newspaper, but my equal as soon as we got home. He was a wonderful, caring man and was as enthusiastic about working with miniatures as I was. He had his own workshop in our house, which was right down the street from John Knox Village in Lyons Park.”
A Christmas trip to the area in 1975 to spend time with her sister in law (who would eventually move into Heritage Tower), along with a devastating fire at the newspaper brought the Scobeys permanently to Pompano Beach.
“After such a pleasant visit for Christmas, Russell and I went home only to find out we were out of work because of the newspaper fire,” Elaine said. “Talk about going from a high to a low, but in the end it turned out to be the best thing we ever did. We both have loved being down here ever since.”
Now with her Cassels Tower apartment closet converted into a Miniaturist’s Workshop, Elaine spends considerable time taking her big visions and reducing them. Her fast-filling living room shows the results of her works.
Although a John Knox Village resident only since February, Elaine has been visiting family here and served for years as an election volunteer when our Auditorium becomes a Broward County voting precinct.
Because of her familiarity with John Knox Village, she had no apprehensions about exhibiting her minis during our 18th Annual Art Gallery held in August.
“It was great fun,” she said. “It’s a chance to see just how much talent our residents have here.”
Current projects for Elaine include a dollhouse she will donate to Broward County’s Kids in Distress.
“I built two dollhouses for them (already) and if someone were to try to sell them they probably would’ve paid around $1,000 to $1,100 each,” she said. “But the work the folks at Kids in Distress do is so important it gives me tremendous joy to hand them over.”
She has a big heart to go along with her little creations.
For more on the Les Petits Collecteurs of South Florida visit the Website (www.sites.google.com/site/lespetitsclub/home).