Monday, 22 February 2010

February Maker Profile: Kay Burton

Your website mentions that your career has always centered around you being artistic in some way, were you artistic and creative as a child, did you always know you would work in this way?

Yes, as a child I was always painting and drawing and in my teenage years when I wasn’t drawing, I spent all my spare time designing and making clothes for myself; both dressmaking and knitting.

Why did you decide to channel your creative talents into dolls house and miniatures hobby?

In August 2003 whilst having a boating holiday on the River Thames, that we decided to moor up and visit Windsor Castle. It was here that I saw Queen Mary’s Dolls House, all in 1/12th scale, designed by Sir Edwin Luytens in 1924. I was absolutely blown away by the detail and craftsmanship and in particular the paintings, I immediately wanted to try my hand at painting in miniature and I couldn’t wait to get home and start painting and investigate more about miniature craftsmen and indeed the possible demand. To my delight I discovered the miniature industry was thriving with very many talented people engaged in such a fascinating art form.

How long on average does it take to create a miniature painting?

This really does depend on the subject. If I paint a very tiny picture of a flower say, it may be take me about 15 minutes to paint, plus making the frame. If I’m working on a fairly large reproduction of a great master I can be working on it on and off for days, coming back to it as I see things in it that need altering…..maybe 12 -14 hours in total.When I take on commissions, I try and get them painted within about 3-4 weeks; I don’t enjoy work piling up too much for me, as it kills my creativity. When I have a commission to do it takes me a while to sink into the job in hand, I have to be in the mood to paint it, or it can all go horribly wrong and I have to start again.

Do the paintings always work out first time?

No, if I am under pressure or not in the mood to paint, I sometimes go all wrong and I have to start completely from scratch. It doesn’t happen that often though. If I am painting a commissioned portrait for someone, I occasionally have to make adjustments to please the customer, this, I think, is because I am working from a photo and am not seeing the person in real life.

What are your favourite sort of paintings to create and why?

I like painting cats, purely because I’m a cat lover, but I do enjoy the challenges involved in recreating an old master (particularly a portrait) in miniature. It is fascinating to examine the different brush, form and colour techniques that have been employed over the years during the numerous art movements.

Your website also mentions that you have a keen interest in historical buildings, does this influence your miniature work ?

I just love all things historical and really enjoy visiting buildings when I can. I love to see art that is contemporary with the castle or house I am visiting.I’m not sure that it influences my miniature work greatly, but I suppose my interest helps me to advise customers of the sort of art they should be hanging in there dolls house. If example, have recently painted quite a large painting that was to be hung in a miniature 15th century Scottish castle, in the painting the customer wanted the castle and its occupants depicted in some way and I with my knowledge I was able to create a scene for her.

Apart form the beautiful miniature paintings that you create, what else do you sell from your website?

I like to keep a broad range of paintings in stock to cover all time periods and to appeal to all tastes.
As a cost effective alternative, I produce some high quality framed prints of my paintings along side a really cheap alternative and for the DIY enthusiast, some sheets of themed prints in different sizes/scales and handmade picture frames. The frames I quite often make to order, made to the size the customer requests. Also individual miniature poster prints in three scales 1/12, 1/24, 1/48 for the more modern house setting.
Victorian and Edwardian framed miniature photographs. A small range of Art studio accessories
As a trained textile designer, I’m quite keen to apply my knowledge into the soft furnishing side of things. I’m hoping to produce a huge designer collection of luxury silk cushions and cushion kits and hopefully some coordinating fabrics. Hopefully this area will grow in time, but I’m finding it quite exciting to work on textiles again.
What do you like most about working for yourself and the dolls house hobby?

To be able to work when I choose and the challenges that working in miniature brings. Every day is different, and I have lots of ideas, it is just finding time to put it all into practice.

You can buy the stunning luxury silk cushion kits that Kay creates directly from or  Please visit the Kay Burton website for further interesting reading, DIY items, prints, special miniature paintings and much more.

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