There’s something curiously magnetic about tiny things. Looking at an intricate dollhouse, we’re drawn into imagination. What it would be like to shrink, Alice-in-Wonderland-style, and be transported to that wee world? How did the artist find the patience and craft it took to create such detail?
Lovers of fine tiny things will find bliss at Miniature Works.
Lovers of fine tiny things will find bliss at Miniature Works in High Falls among the endless variety of tiny furnishings and household items crafted by Brigitte Nagle. Her jam is crafting artful items that look as though the fairies—or perhaps the Borrowers—have just stepped out for a moment and will be right back. And if there’s a miniature item or particular vignette you’d like to have, as a special keepsake or gift, she’ll build it to your specifications. “This place is so cool, and the artist is a dynamite human,” reads a five-star review on Google. “If you’re in High Falls, this place is a must-see.”
Nagle grew up mostly in Ulster County, but spent time in Astoria, Queens and Bakersfield, California, where her father worked rodeos as a bull rider. “I spent rodeo days playing make-believe under the grandstands, and I loved building shoebox troll houses at recess,” she says. “And I’ve always loved the fine details: of architecture, of interior design, art, and history. I love miniatures. Those passions, combined, are at the core of Miniature Works.” Her early dream of growing up to be a circus clown failed to come to fruition, but she found that teaching social studies—as well as being half the team responsible for the legendary Spy Social Eatery and Bar in High Falls—made for a satisfying life. But her love of making little things never faded, and in July of 2022, she opened her gallery and shop.
Since then, her fellow fans of small perfections have been gathering round. “There have been a variety of curious shoppers since opening,” she says. “Some heard of me through word of mouth, and some stumbled across the shop by chance. I love finding out why and how they came to stop in! There have been other miniaturists and makers, model train collectors, writers, CEOs…all sorts of diverse people are drawn to these. There are also young people just attracted to all things small.”
Some have heard of her custom services and realize they can order a bespoke piece as a truly one-of-akind gift for that friend who has everything. “When I first opened the shop, I consciously set it up to have something for everyone,” she says. “We have a vintage collection, kits, handmade and manufactured dollhouse furniture to furnish a dollhouse in multiple scales, classes, and the service that sparks the most joy—the making of a place, a moment, or event to salute someone’s life using photographs.”
Nagle’s passion is creating works that tell a story as unique as the humans behind it. “I’ve always found that the deepest connections were made in my classroom through storytelling,” she writes on her website. “Sharing not only facts and dates, but the stories that provide depth. My favorite part was always learning which stories my students connected with and how different their interpretations were from mine—and that is what I seek to create in my miniatures: stories that I share, to which the viewer can attach their own personal connection.”
“I’ve always loved the fine details: of architecture, of interior design, art, and history. I love miniatures. Those passions, combined, are at the core of Miniature Works.” - Brigitte Nagle
Inspiration comes from the world around her, from found objects, and sometimes straight from her imagination. “I often find myself looking at a discarded scrap of some sort and saying, ‘I can turn that into something!’” she says. “Often an experiment, or an inspired design, will end up becoming three or four pieces that undeniably form a recognizable room in a dwelling. And the history teacher in me comes out when I make a scene. I love scenes that elicit lots of questions: What were they reading? Why is the phone off the hook? Where were they going in such a rush?”
It’s a quirky business and a great fit for the quirky little town of High Falls, known to locals with tongue (partly) in cheek as the Center of the Universe. “This has been our community for the past 30 years as the Spy Social Eatery,” she says, “and our customers are now our friends. Because we are connected to the community, it only seemed right to stay in High Falls. When our current location became available, I drove by it every day and longingly peered into the window, imagining it as Miniature Works. It was meant to be.”
Some have heard of her custom services and realized they can order a bespoke piece as a truly one-of-a-kind gift for that friend who has everything.
As a largely self-taught artist (“I’m a visual, detail-oriented person, and I learned through research, practice and then more practice,” she says), Nagle is very aware of the joy of making, and wants to spread the fun as widely as possible. Miniature Works hosts a variety of classes; in early 2023, you could sign up for an evening of learning how to make your own tiny paper flowers or craft miniature food items from polymer clay, working with clay, or building a diorama kit to tell an entire story.
Nagle’s passion is creating works that tell a story as unique as the humans behind it.
Years of thriving in not one but two very people-oriented fields, restaurants and education, have polished Nagle’s hostessing and entertaining skills, and whether you’re signing up for a class, thinking about a custom project, or just stopping in to marvel at her teeny tiny world, you’ll find a warm welcome. “My goal is, of course, to build this not-so-common business that supports itself,” she says. “Perhaps even more so, my goal is to restart or unleash the creative in everyone. We all have it; it just might be deep within. We could all use help to bring it to the forefront, maybe in a new, uncharted genre.”
High Falls, NY