If you’ve ever worked in stop-motion animation or created practical effects for a film, then you’ll understand some of the process that goes into building miniature models and their tiny life-like sets.
Interview by Nicole Boyd
The hours spent designing and creating each set-piece translates into them becoming their own fully fledged works of art. Often snapped up by devoted collectors, selling for mucho dinero (or you know, actual cash money) at auctions after theatrical runs, then proudly put on display for the wonderment of all.
As we’ve said before, working with miniatures certainly brings an oldworld aesthetic charm to film. Just ask Wes Anderson why he chose to use so many in his Oscar-nominated Grand Budapest Hotel. Sadly, more and more it seems to becoming somewhat of a lost art in filmmaking.
Iraqi miniature model artist, Ali Alamedy has a great love for creating these tiny sets, and this passion shines through each immaculately made piece.
We caught up with Ali to discuss his work, here’s what he had to say.
What inspired you to begin a career creating miniature models?
I’m originally from Iraq, but I’ve worked as a motion graphic designer and art director across the world; living in cities like Dubai, Cairo, Beirut and Istanbul.
My love of miniatures started when I was very young. I was an avid reader at the age of 5 and that enhanced my imagination a lot, even then I dreamed of creating the scenes I saw in my mind, but in a small scale. Six years ago, by chance, I stumbled across some kind of Balsa wood and immediately decided to build my first project – a small farm scene.
I tried Googling for how-to videos or tutorials to help, but I had no idea what the models were called. Once I finally worked out I needed to include the word “Miniatures” in my search box, I happily found there are quite a few miniature artists around the world. I began networking and making friendships with other artists, and gradually my work got attention.
A few years ago, I decided to create a Facebook account under the name Alamedy Diorama and now I’ve managed to accumulate over 5000 friends and followers from all over the world.
Where has your work featured?
As yet, my work hasn’t been used for films, but I currently have two projects on the burner – illustrating a Children’s book and I also have a project in the works for TVC in Turkey. Another project in the works is the possibility of creating a few minitures for one of the Star Wars films.
At the moment, sadly due to the unrest in my country, almost all of my projects are temperarly on hold. ISIS and other warring factions have made life in Iraq unbearable, so I’ve had to flee my homeland to Turkey. Which makes working on major projects difficult, at least until I’ve resettled in another country.
Although, in saying that, I am currently working on a miniature room box, inspired by the great miniature artist Charles Matton.
How long does it take to create a full miniture set?
That depends on the amount of detail required for each set. Some take a month or two, others a week or two.
What inspires to create?
I get inspiration from everyone, everywhere.
Before I start any project, I do a lot of research to help plan the build. I’ve largely created international pieces, I haven’t actually built any localised models or sets.
Mostly I create urban scenes and rusty places, I love the texture of rusty, old things and aged wood.
When I started working, I had no idea that there were names for tiny replicas, or that there were even words such as ‘Dioramas’ or ‘Miniatures’. I also haven’t had any tools or even materials to build with. But my passion to do build those mini scenes, pushed me to morph my environment to fit my work. I’ve used plaster of paris, aluminum foil, plastic rods and whatever I have in home or I can find to create with.
After six years of working in this way, I now record tutorials and how-to videos to help other people like me. People who really want to make miniatures, but have no idea how to go about it.
What advice do you have for those interested in a career in miniture models?
Keep doing what you love to do. And never let the lack of material and resources let you down!
You should be creative in how you distort and utilise different objects and things you find to meet your needs.
As I said, when I started making dioramas I didnt know even the word, because it’s something I’d never seen in my country before. So I worked so hard to do what I loved, and didn’t let the lack of materials or resources let me down.
If you get stuck, I’m always available on Facebook to answer any questions for beginners.
For more info on Ali, check his website: alamedydiorama.com
Behance : Alamedy_Diorama
Instagram : #Alamedydiorama
Feature image: Ali Alamedy’s son, popping his head over his Father’s diorama.