Barbie Andreason has a big talent for creating miniatures, having crafted miniature scenes for more than 50 years – and she’s brought her love of tiny things to Trillium Woods. Straying from traditional miniatures such as Victorian settings, Barbie has created a variety of miniature scenes, many dioramas or room boxes the size of a shoe box, including a 3-story hospital with a working elevator, jail, auto repair shop, campsite, dog park, nursery, her granddaughter’s bedroom and more.
Barbie stumbled onto the art of miniatures when she was given a handmade dollhouse as a young mother. Barbie’s mother anonymously paid for the dialysis treatment of a young girl in El Paso, Texas, and the young girl’s grandfather was able to find out who Barbie’s mother was and thank her for the kind gesture.
“The man came into her place of business bearing a huge, white handmade dollhouse,” said Barbie. “He tearfully explained that he was a poor carpenter and had no idea if she had a daughter, but it was all he had to offer in thanks. She brought it to me and laughingly said, ‘Do something with it!’ So, I did, and that was where my passion was born.”
Barbie’s inspiration often starts with finding a piece and building around it, or from reading a book or watching a movie. Miniature items have always fascinated Barbie, and she jokes that “miniature mania” is a real thing, and it’s quite an addictive hobby.
“Getting to work with tiny things and creating them has given me great joy and peace,” said Barbie.
Barbie started out by making everything herself, and as the years went on, she began traveling and buying from local artisans at shops and miniature shows all over the world, mainly England and British Columbia. Barbie moved from Texas to Minnesota in 1984, and since then her work has been displayed at the American Swedish Institute, the University of Minnesota, the Minnesota State Fair and the Minnesota Historical Society, as well as shows for the National Association of Miniature Enthusiasts and the Midwest Miniature Guild. Barbie has also written for American Miniaturist Magazine.
Since moving to Trillium Woods, Barbie has gifted several personalized miniatures to her Trillium Woods neighbors to thank or honor them, carrying on the tradition of paying it forward like the carpenter giving the dollhouse to her mother. A few of Barbie’s miniatures have been on display throughout the community – watch out for “Nail Salon” the next time you visit the salon.
Barbie’s favorite miniature project is the little world she designed for her wedding reception in 2011. She designed 30 centerpieces on records topped with different miniature scenes and floral arrangements, each representing a different musical style or hobby beloved by Barbie and her husband, Tony Andreason. Some represented classical, rock or bluegrass music, others were scenes of fishing or mahjong – now Barbie leads and teaches mahjong here at Trillium Woods!
“At the end of a phenomenal evening, each table had the opportunity to win their centerpiece, which had been placed according to their special interest group,” said Barbie. “The seating chart was a small nightmare.”
Barbie enjoys living amongst the community of artists at Trillium Woods and is thankful for their talents.
“There are amazingly talented artisans at Trillium Woods, each with unique abilities,” said Barbie. “I don’t paint, quilt, sew or anything, but I do appreciate talents of others.”
Keep up with the Trillium Woods Artist Series on the Trillium Woods blog, where we’ll continue to feature talented resident artists in the coming months!